I am no expert in dealing with snowstorms. In fact, I typically do quite poorly when it comes to inclement weather situations. I lived in Chicago for one year and the weather really took its toll on my personal freedom. I wasn’t willing to dig out my car from its parking spot and I didn’t dare take a clear spot from a neighbor for fear of revenge. I was privy to all sorts of stories of tire slashings and neighbor brawls over snow-free parking spaces in the dead of winter. The work that goes into a clearing a space is notable and, thus, the spots are prized possessions.
I managed to get around without too much difficulty. I took the train. I trudged around in weather proof boots. However, I didn’t cook. The grocery store was an unreasonably long trek. I worried I might just freeze dead in my tracks with my sorry lot of vegetables and tortillas. It wasn’t worth it. I was lucky, however. Chicago is a city where you can order whatever you want whenever you want. Snow? Blizzards? No one, apart from a sad little Californian with a tiny beater pick-up truck, is inhibited by 10 inches of snowfall in a day. They deliver it all right to your door. It’s a beautiful thing.
Seattle is a far cry from Chicago. We have no idea what to do when it snows here. It’s mayhem. Bus drivers nervously pull over in the middle of their routes unable or unwilling to continue. Cars are abandoned everywhere you look. The city stops dead. Everyone is a delirious home-bound wreck. Hungry too. No one has the guts to drive to the grocery store and no restaurants will deliver you anything apart from a doughy pizza pie.
Around this house, we don’t take our chances any more. When the weather gods warn us a snowstorm is near, we hit the grocery store and stock up on essentials. I learned my lesson when, at 9 months pregnant, I was stuck in a car for 3 hours on the drive home from our studio. Imagine the horror! Imagine my bladder!
This year, I wasn’t about to starve or get stranded. I am breastfeeding. I eat billions of calories daily to keep up with the demand. I hit the store the night before the storm and nabbed all I would need for a good hearty stew. I am so glad I did because I am sitting here at this computer while the world falls white and silent around me. I’m trapped in this house temporarily, but I don’t care one bit. There is a big pot of delicious beef stew in my refrigerator that is ready to be reheated and enjoyed. A snow day for Maeve is just another day to play about the house and enjoy her first tidbits of beef stew. It’s anything but a day of meager meals and spinning tires.
I hope you are all keeping warm this week. What do you do when the snow is headed your way?
3 lbs. boneless beef chuck
2 Tbs. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 carrots, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
6 cups beef stock or broth
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried sage
1 bay leaf
1 cup cooked white beans (I prefer cannellini beans)
1 cup barley
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325°F. Cut the beef into 1 1/2-inch cubes and set aside. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper. In batches to avoid crowding, add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the beef to a plate.
Using the same pot, add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Gradually stir in the stock, and then stir in the tomato paste, the 1 Tbs. rosemary and sage, and bay leaf. Then add the beans and barley. Return the beef to the pot and bring to a boil. Cover, place in the oven, and cook for 2 hours.