Saturday, I drove up to New Hampshire to the Harpers Retreat SCA event. A little too much traffic on I-93, but once I was off 101 it was beautiful. Winding empty roads and lots of greenery. I spent a long time at the event talking with a friend ( druidharper) I don't see much, and bought a couple of interesting pieces from the merchants to use in jewelry. I hadn't reserved for the feast, so I left around 6 pm when that was getting started. On the rocky road back to the main roads, I slowed down to a crawl to pass a small group, the girl holding a young and hooded horse close by its halter, the guy standing behind and keeping an eye on the small collie that was in a obedient sit by the side of the road. The people smiled at me as I eased past, and I smiled back. After, through the rear view mirror, I saw them continuing on their way, the horse unhooded again, the dog trotting along.
Sunday, I drove down to Connecticut to take a few forgotten things to my daughter and to bring back some empty boxes and the hermit crabs that she'd decided wouldn't appreciate the draftiness of this year's dorm room come wintertime. As we came out with the boxes, one of her roommated was coming back from a trip with her parents to a neighboring pick-it-yourself vegetable farm. We said hi to her and the parents, continued to our car, and my daughter went back for the hermit crabs. Before she came back, the roommates parents had made a circuit around the parking lot and pulled over beside me. "Would you like some vegetables? Please, take some!" and they opened the back of their minivan and started putting together a bag of produce for me, of peppers and eggplant. I laughed, accepted (they had about a dozen more bags there, there was no worry of depriving them), and hugged the mother, shook hands with the father, and waved goodbye, all before my daughter's return, to her confusion of how I'd suddenly picked up a bag of vegetables in her dorm's parking lot.
Monday, I rested. Hey, it was my birthday. Slept late, a lazy breakfast and reading the paper, a long shower. In the afternoon, I put together a hodgepodge of beef shanks and vegetables to simmer in the oven while my husband, son, and I went off to see "District 9". Great movie! Or, great for those who can handle the violence and grittiness and downright nastiness of most of the characters. There's been a discussion about how to play evil on an RPing board I frequent. The movie had a nice range of it, from unseeing racist (species-ist?) disgust and dismissal, to hard corporate bottom-line "practicality", to gang-type be-badder-than-anyone-else swaggering. After that, a good dinner and later, cake and ice cream and presents, including a beautiful shaped-wood bracelet, but most with a decidedly Cirque du Soleil theme: CD, DVD, and book. Lovely gifts, wonderful day!
End-of-Summer Beef Not-Quite-Pepperpot
3 large beef shanks, or about 3 lbs. chuck roast
2 medium onions, chopped coarsely
6 to 8 peppers of various sorts (amount of heat up to you), at least 4 cups worth, sliced/cubed
2 small eggplant or 1 large, cubed
1 lg. can (28oz?) diced tomatoes
1 lg. can (28oz?) crushed tomatoes
(or lots of diced fresh tomatoes)
4 to 6 lg. cloves garlic, minced coarsely
1/4 c. olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons each of rosemary, thyme, marjoram
salt & black pepper
This is going to simmer and soften for a long time so don't cut the vegetables too small or it will cook down to a paste instead of a stew. If you're using a roast, cut the beef into pieces the size of a small thick steak about 1-1/2" thick. It will fall apart into bite-sized pieces on its own. To cook this, use a large Dutch oven, or transfer from pot to casserole, or from pot to slow cooker.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. On top of the stove, brown the beef in 1/2 of the olive oil (2 Tablespoons) over medium-high heat. Remove beef. Add the onions, lower the heat a little, and saute till translucent. Add the peppers and garlic, and more oil as needed, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant for another 5 minutes, then stir in the beef, tomatoes, and the herbs. Add salt & pepper to taste. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. Serve over noodles, with dollops of sour cream, and have a good red wine to drink with it.
Picture of peppers left over, but the same sorts as used in the stew:
My son says the odd-shaped convoluted red one on the left is an Escher pepper, or what happens when a regular red bell pepper gets too near a black hole.