Engagements and Irish Beef Stew

Our engagement was almost ruined by the Russians.

We were on a trip to Ireland as a very belated birthday present (we tend to get each other experiences as a gift, and mine was a round trip airfare to Europe). That morning, we had raced through the streets of Galway to make sure that we made our scheduled bus trip to the Cliffs of Moher. I’ll be honest- I sort of thought that something was coming, since he had insisted on bringing his backpack (when I already had a purse that fit everything we would need, including 2 jackets) and was chugging water like a champ.

We started hiking along the Cliffs (which, by the way, some of the path is absolutely terrifying since you’re literally right along the end of a mountain) and fairly soon found what we thought was decently quiet place to sit down.

Then we were joined by a family of Russians. By “family”, I mean about 10 people of assorted ages who were all yelling and cursing at each other. They sat down RIGHT next to us and promptly started a food fight.

You read that right. A food fight on the side of a cliff.

We managed to get up, duck the flying sandwiches, and not fall off the side of the cliff (though most of the food did go over the side).

The next place we found was decidedly safer, and I said yes.

 

Irish Beef Stew

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You won’t want to throw any of this around.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef, cut up
  • 3 pieces bacon, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 can tomato paste (4 oz)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 can mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bottle Guinness or similar stout
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 1 c frozen corn

How-to

  1. Saute bacon in a large dutch oven or similar pot. When cooked, removed bacon with slotted spoon, reserving fat.
  2. Dry off beef with a paper towel, then season with salt and pepper. Add to pot and brown on all sides, approximately 3-5 minutes. Don’t crowd the pan- if you don’t have enough room, do this in a few steps!
  3. Removed beef from pan, leaving fat behind. Add carrot, onion, celery, mushrooms, and garlic. Season again with salt and pepper. Saute until soft.
  4. Stir tomato paste into vegetables and cook until the tomato paste gets slightly brown. Add tomatoes.
  5. Slowly pour in bottle of stout, stirring constantly. Pour in beef broth.
  6. Bring stew to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 1-2 hours, until vegetables are soft and meat is tender (cooking time will vary based on your size of your ingredients).
  7. Turn off heat and mix in frozen vegetables. Cover for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve over Colcannon or Mashed Potatoes.
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Almost Jobs and Beer Jelly

Once upon a time, I was hired as a gogo dancer.

Now, I should probably start off by stating that I have never taken a dance lesson in my life. Therefore, all of my dance skills come from theater or high school dances. That roughly translates into skills that are quite classy (waltz and swing) and the total opposite of classy (which means I’m quite good at dancing like a whore).

Those slutty dance skills led to me applying to be a gogo dancer during the summer between college and med school. I couldn’t find a job in Michigan, so I up and left and moved to Phoenix for three months and applied for pretty much any job out there.

That’s why I then applied to work as a gogo dancer. The place of course had a name that sounded like a stripclub, but was in fact quite a respectable lounge (I would have had to dance AND serve drinks and food, thank you very much).

Anyway, I passed the test (did you really think I didn’t have to demonstrate my dance skills? my ability to take drink and food orders? AND look good in tight black dresses?) and was hired. And then they told me the bad news:

I had to work every Tuesday through Saturday night from 6pm-4am. And I was never allowed to drink at work.

Let’s get one thing straight. This was my last summer of freedom before starting med school. I moved somewhere totally random. And I wanted to have FUN.

Which is why I promptly quit and decided to work at Macy’s instead.

On later reflection now, though, I wish I had kept the job. It would have made for an even better story.

Dance Inspiring Beer Jelly

you’ll want to make this ASAP since I use it in a ton of recipes to follow

Ingredients

  • 24 oz warm beer (I used Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss and thus would recommend any good beer with a honey taste for this particular application)
  • 6 tbsp regular powdered pectin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3.5 c white sugar

How-to

  1. Open beer and dump it into a large bowl. Stir vigorously. Leave out overnight so it can get extra flat (I apologize for making your house smell like the remains of a frat party, but I promise it’s worth it).
  2. The next day, get out a large stockpot. Place jelly jars (you can have up to 40 oz of jelly, so use your desired jar size combination) on the bottom and fill with water. Bring to a boil.
  3. In a separate soup pot, mix together warm, hopefully now-flat beer, pectin, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add in sugar. Return to a boil and cook for 1 minute (timer required).
  5. Turn off heat and let rest for approximately 5 minutes. For clear beer jelly, spoon off any foam. For bubbly beer jelly, don’t.
  6. In a small saucepan, boil jelly jar lids.
  7. Remove jelly jars from boiling pot. Continue to keep that water boiling. Dry off jelly jars with paper towels. Ladle in beer jelly and top with lids and rings. Wipe off jars.
  8. Place jars back into huge pot of boiling water and process (aka just let them hang out) for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove jars from boiling water, making sure that the top of the lid is sucked down and doesn’t pop back up when you press on it.