This week I turned to my dear friend Jody, who blogs at and baby makes six. Jody lives on the third coast and captures in photographs the beauty of the ocean, her gorgeous children, and her unabashed love for her husband. Her writing inspires you to appreciate the little things in life. I always leave her blog feeling like my soul has been nourished.
She gave me this fabulous harvest beef stew recipe. Oh my, I am making this stew this week. Bless her heart she thinks 70 degrees is cold. I am not sure whether I should laugh or cry at that.
Living along the south Texas coast has its many perks. The weather is very mild, flip flops are the shoes of choice year round, and you will frequently find our 4 kids building sand castles in November…wearing bathing suits. And tans. Not kidding. I can say the same for most of December, some of January but February is our winter. Basically one month of very cold weather and then comes the month of March, where we get about 2 weeks of spring before summer hits hard.
This is heavenly if you are summer addicts like we are, but the one drawback is the fact that Fall just sort of skips over us. As much as we love the perpetual, endless summer, seeing the leaves change would be a welcome sight. Palm trees and Live Oak just don’t have what it takes. So we invent Fall. One way I do this is by leaving in our trailer and heading for the hills for some Autumn color and camping. The other is creating a Fall menu of sorts.
As the weather here cools a bit (today’s high will be 70, low 51…brrrrr) I find myself making lots of stews and hearty soups. The best one I have found, hands down, is a harvest stew that has some unusual seasonings for a stew….allspice and cloves. It sounds odd, but the flavors all come together to make a soup that just warms your soul and makes your house smell like the holidays. It also has sweet potatoes in it, which makes it a perfect stew to serve for the early part of Thanksgiving week, while you are busy planning your Thursday feast.
So, here you go!
HARVEST BEEF STEW
You will need:
2lbs of stew beef (I used 3lbs…I’m from Texas, what can I say)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes
2 cup chopped, peeled acorn squash
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon allspice (I added 1/4 tsp, for extra flavor)
1/8 teaspoon cloves (again, I added 1/4 tsp, but if you like your flavors more subtle, stick to the recipe)
1 can (28oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
In a large stew pot, cook the beef, onion and garlic over medium heat. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Drain well. Set aside.
Peel and cube your sweet potatoes and squash. Have you ever cut and peeled acorn squash? No? Well, it is a bit like trying to peel a coconut…..or a rock…. and you will curse me. You will need a very sturdy and sharp knife. I found, through trial and error, that the best way to peel one is to use a vegetable peeler to do the “humps” of the ribs like this:
then slice it along the grooves like you would a cantaloupe. Use your muscles. After making the slices, continue peeling the squash with your veggie peeler, but try not to break yours like I did mine. Are you cursing me yet? Trust me, it is worth it. The taste of the acorn squash is fabulous.
Be sure and make the cubes large so they don’t get mushy as it simmers.
Now pour yourself a glass of wine (it’s 5 O’clock somewhere!) and after you rest a bit, return your beef to the stove and add the water, cubed potatoes and squash, beef bouillon and spices. Have adorable children practice using measuring spoons to measure out the spices. Don’t be surprised it you end up with a huge dusting of allspice on the floor.
Bring this yumminess to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the tomatoes. Leave on low heat for 30-60 minutes. I tend to let it simmer on very low heat for 1 hour so that the veggies soak up a bit more of the tangy tomato flavor and the beef becomes really tender. You may need to add a bit more water, depending on how you like your stew.
Serve with warm French bread lathered with butter.
And if you are in the south, dream of Fall.