About Me

I am a techno/gadget freak. I love almost anything that has to do with computers and software. I have an engineering background, but I haven't worked in that field for over 10 years. I married my wonderful husband in September 2004 and look forward to spending every single day of the rest of my life with him. I love cats and even call myself "Cat".


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Disappointed and a bit of a rant...

Rob and I went to a restaurant Friday night to celebrate my new job.  It use to be (emphasis on "use to be") my favourite restaurant.  The last time we were there was about a year ago.  My husband's meal at that time was not good.  He usually orders the mussels in tomato sauce as an appetizer and he had so many dead ones and lots of broken shells in the sauce that he almost chipped a tooth on one.  As his main course, he ordered the special (which sounded really good). It was mixed seafood in a phyllo pastry.  Well, the seafood was so over cooked and it was way too salty.  He ate about half of the entree because he really hungry because we had to wait about 45 minutes for our meal, but that's all he could stomach.  He mentioned it to the owner's wife when we were leaving and the waitress was like "well, he ate half of it" thinking we were trying to get the meal for free.  We ate at that restaurant at least once a month and it seemed every time we went, the food quality dropped each time. For my husband, that was the last time he wanted to go.  On the flip side, I hadn't had a bad meal there at all. Up until Friday.  I'm so disappointed.  I loved the stuffed Calamari in champagne mustard sauce.  I loved it so much, that rather than order it in the appetizer size, I decided to get the full entree size this time.  Well, it was so over cooked, it was like trying to eat a rubber band.  And the sauce didn't have any mustard taste at all - and I highly doubt they used champagne in it too.  All I could taste was pepper.  The stuffing was originally made with ground chicken, pinenuts, and leeks.  There were hardly any pinenuts and no leeks at all.  As an appetizer I had the dolmades.  It had a sauce (I can't remember the name) that was a creamy lemon.  It was good.  But, my soup was a greek chicken & rice, which is usually a cream soup with lemon.  Well, it tasted like they used the sauce from the dolmades as the soup base and just threw in some chopped chicken and rice and watered it down a bit.  Rob ordered the mussels in tomato sauce again, and of course, he had a whole bunch of dead ones and 3 or 4 pieces of broken shell - AGAIN.  Even after we told the waitress what had happened the last time. His meal was ok (mousaka), but again, they changed the recipe and it wasn't as good as the original.

I understand trying to cut costs, but really, if it means that you're providing lesser quality, is that really what a restaurant wants to do.  I don't think this restaurant is going to last much longer. The clientelle was slowly building, and the time before last when we were there, they had a full house.  Friday night - not so much. They had three tables (including us) and 5 wait staff.  It irritates me a little, since we would talk to the owner's wife all the time when we were there and let her know that we weren't complaining and wanted to just give them some feedback so they could make it better and that we actually really liked the food for the most part.  Just seemed the last few times, all she had was excuses each time we mentioned something that was a little off. The only reason Rob agreed to go was because the first restaurant we went to had too long of a wait time to get a table and because I really liked the food at the greek place. Well, unfortunately, I didn't enjoy my meal this time and I won't be going back and they've lost a couple of patrons.

That's it for today.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

So, I haven't had any crafting juice lately....

I just haven't felt like doing anything with my paper and stamps lately.  What I have been doing is reading a few blogs and websites about sustainable living and making/growing your own food.  I got the bug last year in the fall when I decided to try my hand and canning some jellies made from fruit grown in my neighbourhood.  It was a blast.  Over the winter, I've learned to make bread.  Its really easy and now my bread turns out every time.  I've also been reading on how to try and cut my food costs.  Some of you might know that I'm not working right now.  I've been unemployed since early last spring so anything that I can do to reduce my household costs is something I need to look at closely right now.  One thing I've been exploring is cheaper cuts of meat.  The methods I've learned are so easy.  Most of the time its either marinating or long, slow cooking, so this has become a way to prepare tasty meals with the less expensive, and usually tougher, cuts of meat. I happened to be watching the food network this afternoon while taking a little break from my cheese making (that will be another post in the near future), and watched two different programs.  The first program was Michael Smith's Chef At Home.  He made a stew that look so good with a chuck roast.  The one ingredient that was highlighted in the stew was beer.  Then I watched another show right after that called Glutton For Punishment (can't remember the host's name) and they were highlighting Hawaiian coffee.  They showed a recipe for braised short ribs using coffee and cocoa.  It looked so good. Well, to make a long story short, I had a huge blade steak in the freezer that I was wondering what to do with.  So I decided to make a stew incorporating the ideas from the two shows.  How did it all turn out you ask?  It was delicious.  I  paired it with the dark rye bread I made today.  The dark flavour from the rye bread matched the stew perfectly.  Here's a little picture to get your taste buds going:

Too bad you can't smell it because it made the house smell so good.  My husband was super impressed with the meal.  Here's the recipe for the stew:

Cat's Beef Stew
1 large blade steak or two small (about 1.5 - 2.0 lbs meat) cubed into about 1" chunks and patted dry (you can use whatever cut of meat you have on hand - I just happened to have blade steaks)
2 large carrots cut into bite size chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large potato, peeled and grated
2 celery stalks, chopped
2-3 Tbsp canola oil (for searing the meat)
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp dried thyme
1 cup beer (dark beer or stout is best, but I just used a lager that I had in the fridge)
2 cups beef broth/stock (mine had salt so I omitted adding any more salt)
1 cup cold left over coffee (make an extra cup in the morning and use it for the stew)
1-2 bay leafs
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 can tomato paste or 1/2 cup leftover tomato/spaghetti sauce (which is what I used)

In a heavy bottom 4qt pot, heat 2 or 3 Tbsp oil on medium high heat.  Add the beef to the pot making sure it is only a single layer.  Brown all sides of the meat cubes.  Do the meat in batches if necessary, making sure the pan stays at medium to high heat to sear and brown the meat. You want the meat juices to caramelize and leave those little brown bits in the bottom of the pan.  Keep the meat aside in a separate bowl once browned. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium.  Sweat the onions so that it picks up all the brown from the pan.  Add the garlic, tomato paste, carrots, and celery and cook for a minute or two to cook the garlic.  Add the meat back to the pot along with the shredded potato, the liquids, and your spices.  The shredded potato will cook down and sort of dissolve into the stew and thicken the liquid.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally as the ingredients will sink to the bottom of the pot.  Once it has simmered for about an hour, stir 2 Tbsp of oil into 2 Tbsp of flour and slowly pour this into the stew while stirring so that you don't get any lumps.  This will thicken the stew if the potato hasn't thickened it enough. Cook another 15 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked and serve.

I think this is such an easy and versatile recipe since you can use whatever cut of beef you have on hand; you can switch up the herbs & spices; and you use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.  I was going to add some kale (collard greens), but I forgot.  I think next time I make it I'm going to add a little worchestshire sauce and maybe a little dijon mustard just to see how that tastes.

I really hope you try this stew.  It was so delicious.  And if you do, let me know how you liked it. :)

Talk to you later...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...