I spent much of this morning finishing a book for one of my classes. As I sat down to lunch and was ruminating over what I read, I looked back over the class syllabus to find that I read twice as much as needed! Of course, I was a little irked at myself, but then again, the book was so good, encouraging, and challenging that I am glad I finished it. I'm not sure I would have the self-control to finish it had I not assumed the assignment entailed as much, at least not in the middle of the semester.
The book was stimulating, and really spurred me to think about how much I pursue joy in my life. How often do I proverbially "stop and smell the flowers?" I go through phases in life where I rarely slow down for weeks on end, and I forget to enjoy life. I forget to enjoy the flavors, the colors, the sounds, and bits of sweetness that are a part of life. They are there, I just overlook them!
The book reminded me that we pay attention to these gifts and details of life because they are signposts. They point us to greater gifts. I think that's one reason why I love celebrating and feasting so much; our feasts point to a greater feast. Our fellowship points to a greater fellowship.
Right now, we're enjoying this Irish-inspired meal of Beef and Guinness Stew, Roasted Cabbage and Apples, and Raisin Stout loaves. The past few weeks have been busy for all of us around here; mid-terms and papers and such. How sweet is it to stop, even for a few moments, and enjoy a good meal? It really is a cause for joy.
Beef and Guinness Stew
Slightly Adapted from Cooking Light
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 pounds chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups beef broth
12 oz Guinness
1 tablespoon raisins
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 carrots, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
3-4 parsnips, peeled and sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 turnips, peeled and cubed 3/4 inch thick
parsley, for garnish
Pat the beef cubes dry. Combine the beef, flour and salt in a large zip-top bag. Shake to coat the beef.
Heat half of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add half of the beef and cook for six minutes, until the beef is browned all over. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the remainder of the oil and beef.
Once the beef is removed, cook the onion in the empty pot for five minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Add the broth, beer, raisins, caraway and pepper. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes. Add the vegetables, cover and cook for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, raise the heat to medium, and cook for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.