Beef & Bay Leaves
This year our beef club members will receive a jar of Adelaida Springs Ranch bay leaves in their club box. We have dozens of large, fragrant Bay Laurel trees growing alongside shady creeks and near the natural springs on our ranch. The leaves were picked, dried and packed by Lisa & Courtney. Here's a classic beef stew recipe (adapted from the New York Times) that puts the fragrant bay leaf to good use!
Grass-Fed Beef Stew
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1 lb. grass-fed beef stew meat, cut into 1" pieces
3-5 teaspoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large baking potaotes, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen peas (optional)
1. Combine flour and pepper in bowl, add beef and toss to coat.
2. On medium setting, heat 3 teaspoons olive oil in dutch oven or large pot. Salt the beef and then add to the pot in batches; don't overcrowd.
3. Cook, turning until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more oil as needed.
4. Remove beef from the pot and add wine vinegar and red wine. Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat, scraping to loosen any browned bits.
5. Add beef, broth, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
6. Cover and cook until beef is tender, about 1.5 hours. Check occasionally and add more broth as needed.
7. Add onions and carrots and cook 10 minutes. Add potatoes and cook about 20 minutes more until all veggies are tender. Add peas if using, and cook another 5 minutes.
8. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-5. Pair with a good bread and any Rangeland wine!
Late in the afternoon I decided to walk to our little rental house to check on the garden. I pulled my cowboy boots on (baby snake season!) called Silver the dog and we set off on our 2 mile jaunt. The clover and vetch on the way down to the lake was thick and buzzing with bees. We came right upon a huge ground squirrel mound with the squirrel sitting right at the “door”. Silver couldn’t quite believe his luck; in his second of hesitation the squirrel dove into his hole. Silver went after him, squirrel squeaking, Silver digging and tossing aside clumps of sod with his mouth. I kept on down the hill and finally had to call him off the hunt.
Right in the middle of the road I found two halves of a fragile, palest blue bird egg. I put a half on each of my thumbs, so I wouldn’t crush them while I walked.
The grass on the flats was tall and green, and the wind was blowing slightly. I took a shortcut to the house across the field and over the little creek. The grasses were soft and waving in the breeze and came up to my thighs. I was reminded of the scene in Gladiator when Maximus is walking towards his home, through the golden grain fields, haunting music, his hand brushing the grass. It felt very sacred and still as I walked with my fingers spread. But with my thumbs up---the egg shells! At the little house the garden had gone wild with weeds; the roses, left unpruned this year, are going nuts too. Maybe the secret to the perfect garden is a little bit of neglect?
As I walked back home up the big, big hill, huffing and puffing a little, the rams and young male lambs in the pasture below the house greeted me. On the very last push, up the bank to the patio, I saw my one and only snake. A baby king snake about 6 inches long, starkly black with white bands, the width of a pencil. He squiggled up the hill as my shadow crossed his path.
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