Category Archives: Cooking

Dyed of Natural Causes

Hanging out with kids gives childless adults a good excuse to get crafty.  This weekend, I had lots of time with my littlest sister and even-littler brother, and in order to take full advantage of kid time, I made it a priority to come up with an Easter project.

Enter natural egg dyes:

I remember enjoying the result of egg dyeing adventures of my childhood… but I don’t seem to remember the actual process of dyeing them.  Hopefully, as Littlest Sis grows up, the sweet aroma of boiling cabbage, hardboiled eggs, and onion skins will bring a wash of memories (if not nausea) over her.

Red cabbage, which is actually purple, produces blue dye. Color confusion!

To achieve this remarkable blue, we chopped and boiled a head of red cabbage in 3 or 4 inches of water for a good 20 minutes.  Strained it, added a couple glugs of white vinegar, added hard boiled eggs, and left it in the refrigerator overnight.  For orange, we did the same as above, only substituted skins from a couple yellow onions for the cabbage.  For a mottled grey-brown (which I had expected to be pinkish-grey), we emptied a bottle of cheap red wine along with some white vinegar into a bowl and added eggs.  I wonder if vinegar is necessary for the wine dye… a weird curdled-looking film gathered on the eggs dyed in wine, and I think it may have been the addition of the vinegar that caused this.

As an egg dye, I give wine a two thumbs meh. Although I love the way this particular flower turned out.

For the super-awesome shell-tattoos, we “borrowed” a pair of my Not So Little Sister’s stockings, some flowers and confetti, and string.  We placed the flower / confetti against the undyed egg, put the egg in the stocking (after cutting the stocking so it will stretched tight around the egg), and tied it off.  The stockinged egg went into the dye and WA-BAM:  overnight eggshell excellence.  (Littlest sis had the great idea to try the confetti.  Way to go, smartie pants!)

The most impressive color came from the unassuming yellow onion skins.  Who knew yellow = orange?

Cuteness overload. This is Littlest Sis and Even-Littler Bro. Awww!

Craft-time success!

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Lamb Stew on St. Patrick’s Day

I admit that when The Old Man and I went to Ireland and Spain last year, I was planning on writing many detailed posts about every meal, every adventure, every milestone.  Instead I wrote two posts (this one and this one), neither of which detail the delicious food we experienced.  So, let me take this opportunity to talk about Ireland’s lamb stew.

IT IS SO GOOD.  Especially when it is freezing and raining outside (which it was) and served with soda bread (which everything is) near a hearth fire (of which there are many).  Our favorite place for stew in Dublin was a pub near Trinity College called The Duke.  It is two stories tall with nooks and booths to hide away in, there are several hearths crackling, comfortable seating, lovely servers, and – of course – delicious lamb stew.  It was so perfectly warm and welcoming in The Duke, and the stew was hearty and flavorful; a happy combination perfectly suited to weary travelers on a chilly afternoon.

In honor of all things Irish, on St. Patrick’s day whilst pining for beautiful Ireland, I made my own version of Lamb Stew.  See below for the recipe.

And since I neglected to snap any photos of my stew, please accept this Instagram shot of Ireland instead.

Galway

The Domestic B’s Lamb Stew
Makes almost enough for 8 neighbors in your backyard on St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients:

4 to 6 pounds of lamb (Ask your butcher which cuts he / she recommends for stews.  I like to make sure at least one bone is included for flavor.)
1/2 pound end cut bacon pieces
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
flour (enough to coat pieces of lamb)
a handful of carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
5 to 7 small red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 leek, chopped
5 cups of water
3 beef bouillon cubes, dissolved
1 can / bottle Guinness beer
grapeseed oil
2 bay leaves
thyme

Instructions:

1)  Fry bacon pieces in a pan.  Remove from pan, cut away as much visible fat as possible, cut into bite-sized pieces and add bacon to empty crock pot.  Discard fat, or toss a little back into the pan.
2)  Re-heat pan (using the bacon fat that still remains), and add whole pieces of lamb, lightly browning the outsides.  Remove from pan, cut into pieces and remove as much excess fat as possible.
3)  In a bowl, add plenty of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and flour to a bowl.  Coat pieces of lamb.  Re-heat frying pan and add the lamb pieces.  Fry until cooked medium rare.  Add to crock pot.
4)  Sautee chopped leek and minced garlic in pan for a few minutes (use a drizzle of grape seed oil if all bacon fat is gone).  Add to crock pot.
5)  Add 5 cups of water and beef bouillon to the crock pot.  Cover and turn on high.  Allow to cook for 1 hour.
6)  Add Guinness beer, carrots, celery, potatoes, barley, and bay leaves to the crock pot.  Sprinkle a pinch of thyme on top, stir and cover.  Cook for 1 hour.

For best results, serve on a cold and rainy day with soda bread near a crackling fire.  Have lots of craic.

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The Beef

I am part Argentine. Also I am quasi-vegetarian, or at least a fish or chicken preferer. (My ancestors curse my name.) So, needless to say I do not normally purchase red meat for co-consumtion in our household. BUT. I walked into the lions den that is Whole Foods and saw lovely slabs of red-meated dead quadrupeds and decided to bite the BULLet.  (Ha! Ha?)  According to supporting signage, the cattle are given constant access to outdoor areas and play things.  For mental stimulation.  I figure, “hey. they were interested. in things. let’s eat them.” I asked the butcher to slice a pound of prime beef loin (I think?) into the thinnest slices possible, and got out of there for under $9.
Amazing, I know.
Upon arriving home, I plucked parsley, basil, and garlicy-onion-chive from the apartment-complex-garden and mashed up a chimichurri-esque herb topping. (With gads of rosemary olive oil and garlic.) I let Bessie marinate for a couple hours in the fridge in olive oil and some of the aforementioned herb mash, meanwhile cutting up green apples, coating them in balsamic glaze, white wine, olive oil, and tossing them with feta, walnuts and baby lettuce.  YUM!

Once the table was set, the wine poured, and the husband properly washed, I grabbed my previously-unused-Williams-Sonoma-wedding-gift griddle, heated that mo’fo up to burning, and threw those lil’ cow slabs on there.  I let them cook for less then a minute on each on side, tossed them on the plates, added more herb mash, and served it up yummy.

APPARENTLY this is an old Argentine trick.  Slice your meat thin.  Cook it up quick.  Impress your guests.

It was a big hit with the old man.  And with myself.  We both suffered serious garlic breath, but at least we suffered together.

(Please pardon the picture.  I almost didn’t post this because it looks so un-appetizing and gray.  Blah!  I will be learning photoshop or aperture shortly and will make more delicious-looking photos.)

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