Catchin’ up! It’s been weird…

Hi. Sorry. Been busy. My house is mine until the 21st. Then it’s occupied by the daughters and husband/significant other and son and son’s dog until the 1st.

Daughter number one’s visit caused us all extreme stress. She was on edge with the whole best friend got his leg blown off by a sawed off shotgun wielded by his own father who then tried to finish the job with a handgun thing. This was a difficult visit. She always holds herself together when tragedy strikes then takes it out on us. (We’re her safety valve.) Once she got back home she called and apologized. It all started in high school. Her high school years consisted of one tragedy after another. First her dearest friend’s brother was hit and killed by a car. Six month later this same dearest friend died in an avalanche in Utah, as it happens on a trail where I’ve cross-county skied, a trail known for avalanche danger. Yes, it was as bad as you can imagine for the family. Two of her best girlfriends lost their brothers, one when a cement block wall in a construction area collapsed, another when he was stabbed to death in a parking lot in San Diego by a gang wannabe. Then a friend on her high school soccer team committed suicide. Her high school class became known city-wide as the walking wounded. My daughter once told me she’d come to expect everyone she loved to die tragically.

We’re still helping our son with the condo – unpacking, putting away, finishing up last minute paperwork. The mortgage company really ‘effed up. Annoying as hell. Still waiting for the final paperwork although we closed nearly three weeks ago. Everyone is waiting – seller, real estate agents, etc. We paid but nobody got their money yet. Yesterday I had to drive in to prove to the city of blah-blah that we own the place so we could get water, garbage and power in our son’s name and then go to the post office to prove we own the place so they could re-key the mailbox and get him a new set of keys. It was kinda funny because they wanted a power bill to prove that he is the resident but of course it’s in the mailbox! To which nobody has a key! The weather was complete shit – driving rain, heavy winds, insane freeway. And I tend to drive fast. Yikes!

Youngest daughter (college/Johns Hopkins) has been sick with food poisoning so we’ve been doing our best to help her from afar. It’s very very tough. At least her boyfriend’s father is a doctor so if all else fails…

Today was catch up day for me – mailing stuff, getting stuff framed, got Jake out for an exceptional hike in the rain. He loves puddles. And he loves nothing more than dropping his ball in a puddle and sticking in his entire head to retrieve it. And he finally made a new friend, one who understands German Shepherds – Rupert – a 2 year old half GSD-half Malamute. They are perfect for each other. Chase chase chase chase chase chase chase. And nobody got pissed off when one of the dogs nipped at the other dog’s back legs or tail. (I get screamed at a lot because Jake herds other dogs. Retrievers just don’t get it.)

So… I am making a super good stew. I shall post the recipe here along with this letter!

2 Tbs. duck fat (or butter or oil) (I am so into duck fat these days!)

1 1/2 pounds ground brisket or ground round (Ground brisket is exceptional!)

1 large onion, chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped

3-4 large carrots, sliced

3 turnips, chopped

handful of fresh parsley, chopped

2 large tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp nutmeg

3 Tbs flour

1 tsp sugar

1 cup white wine (or beer)

1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

2 Tbs Ponzu sauce

2 Tbs soy sauce or Tamari

1 Tbs bourbon

2-3 heaping tsp cornstarch mixed with cold water to make a paste

Saute the onions and celery. Sprinkle sugar as you saute to help caramelize. Add meat and saute until just barely done. Mix together flour, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme and nutmeg. Add to the pan and saute until all the flour is incorporated. Mix together wet ingredients except cornstarch and water. Pour the wet ingredients into the saute pan and use the liquid to scrape up all the browned bits. Pour everything into a slow cooker. Add carrots, turnips and tomatoes. Add 1/2-1 cup water or stock to cover. Cook on high for 2 hours, then decrease the heat to low and cook for another 2-4 hours, until the vegetables are perfectly tender. Before serving, add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering stew. This will thicken the stew. Taste to check for seasoning. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.

All right… We shall talk soon! And I will get all your links up on my sidebar… eventually! Love, Julia

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