If you still your mind and listen very carefully, sometimes you can hear your body speak. Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it screams. And sometimes, when you don’t listen at all, it will throw you to the floor and force you to heed its warnings.
I’ve finally figured out that my body is attuned to the the seasons, and if I would just listen, instead of arguing, we’d get along a lot better. I’ve been in a sluggish, funk the last week, I’m not sleeping, and I haven’t been able to drag myself out of bed at 5:45 to walk and I can hardly wait to crawl under the covers at night. Nothing’s changed in my routine. It’s the change of seasons. Summer carries the double-edged sword of leisure and relaxation, heat and lethargy for me. I think I might be a reverse hibernator, and I’m ready to emerge from my humid cave.
So fall is here, though in Southern California, even though we don’t really feel it until November, the light is already different, the air is beginning to change. But it’s subtle. You need to put your ear to the sky and listen, ever so carefully to the wind, to feel the breeze speaking.
The ebb and flow of the ocean, the waxing and waning of the moon and the change of the seasons, I think our bodies are attuned to nature and react to those changes. I recognize these changes now, and instead of fearing them, accept them as something I cannot change. It is somewhat comforting to know this, as I have experienced it for so many years and know this feeling, will pass. I am ready!
Autumn speaks to me in comfort food…soups and stews, just as Summer speaks to me in salads and fruit. So the first day of Autumn I felt like stew, Boeuf Bourguignon, to be exact. Solid, comforting, just what I needed to bring me out of my end-of-summer doldrums. A classic French recipe, with many variations. Bottom line? Beef, vegetables and red wine (Burgandy). Classic Boeuf Bourguignon has just carrots, onions and mushrooms. Julia Childs’ recipe has half as many vegetables as I like and uses canned tomatoes. I’ve left my version, with just the three vegetables and omitted the tomatoes. Pearl onions, require peeling. Use sliced onions if you prefer and cubed or fingerling potatoes.
3 1/2 lbs. beef stew meat, cubed into 1 1/2″ pieces, like chuck, trimmed of all gristle and fat. You should end up with about 3 lbs. of cubed meat.
2 cups of coarsely chopped carrots.
3 cloves of garlic, whole, lightly crushed.
1 bottle of decent red wine, burgundy or zin
1 sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf
2 or more cups of sliced or pearl onions, peeled.
3 cups or more of quartered crimini or button mushrooms
salt and pepper
Beurre Manie to thicken
equal parts softened butter and flour
- In a large sauté or fry pan heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium high heat. Add meat in small batches and brown on all sides. Do not crowd meat or it will braise and not brown. As it browns, remove pieces to a large casserole or Dutch oven. Continue until all the meat is browned, adding more oil if necessary.
- When all meat is browned, add chopped carrots and sauté carrots for a couple of minutes until lightly browned. Add to casserole.
- Deglaze pan by adding about 1 cup of red wine to pan and stir to remove browned bits from bottom of pan. Pour into casserole.
- Add the rest of the wine, bay leaf, sprig of thyme and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the Dutch oven or casserole and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender.
- Wash and quarter mushrooms, peel pearl or boiling onions. In a large pan heat 2-3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute mushrooms and onions, browning, then add to stew. Continue cooking for an additional 1/2 hour until vegetables and meat are tender.
- Finishing the stew. Separate the stew from the liquid. Return the liquid to a boil over a medium-high heat. Whisk in Beurre Manie, to thicken liquid, adding more if necessary to achieve desired consistency.
- Return stew to pan, check for seasoning with salt and black pepper.