Ben and I have always struggled with Sundays – the depression, the sloth, and, many times, the lingering hangover. Sunday is the perfect combination of regret for your wasted weekend and dread for the coming week. A sadly ticking clock.

But – a year or two ago we started Sunday Dinners. On Sunday night, we decided, we would cook, eat, and forget about how we would inevitably feel in the morning. We would relax and celebrate the freedom of the weekend until the minute we went to bed, filled with delicious comfort food.

Cooking is something that I’ve become increasingly interested in as I’ve gotten older. My mother, my aunts, and my grandmother are all accomplished southern cooks bursting with recipes that have been fine-tuned through the generations. And although I try to hold off on the gravy during the week, Sunday is the day to break out the sausage, the flour, the beef, and the butter.

Even the most depressing act of Sunday night, making your Monday work lunch, is transformed into lovingly placing some leftovers in some Tupperware and whispering to yourself, “it’s always better the second day.”

Cooking is also very relaxing for me – a creative outlet that doesn’t, for a change, involve me weeping in front of a keyboard. I get to chop and grind and mix and I get a finished product in a few hours that doesn’t ever get workshopped. Just eaten.

In any case, I thought I’d share with you my recipes each week and see if I can’t start improving Sunday nights everywhere. I’d also love to hear about your favorite recipes. This week I made my mom’s beef stew (Ben made garlic bread and cleaned the kitchen afterward). It’s hard to screw up, cheap, and awesome for the first real week of fall. And – your apartment smells like stew all day (which I think has been proven to have the same effects as Prozac).

BEEF STEW

1.5 pounds beef
2 large potatoes
2 carrots
1 celery stock
1/3 cup of flour
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 capful Kitchen Bouquet  (you can find this old school product in any grocery store, usually in the instant gravy section even though it’s more of a spice)
other veggies (whatever you feel like or have around – green beans, corn, peas)
spices (salt, pepper, bay leaf, parsley, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic, whatever you feel like, fresh is always better)

Heat oil and garlic in a large Dutch oven or pot. Cut beef into bite-sized cubes. Dredge cubes in four, salt, and pepper. Add to pot along with chopped onions and finely chopped celery. When the beef is browned but not cooked through, add water until the beef is just covered (add more water if you like a thinner stew). Add the Kitchen Bouquet and spices. Cover and simmer for about an hour. Add diced potatoes, carrots, and any optional veggies. Cook on low for another hour or two – longer if you like it mushy and thick, shorter if you like the potatoes and carrots firm and completely intact. If you like your stew really, really thick, take your spoon and mash some of the potatoes against the side of the pot.

Serve with warm, buttery garlic bread made by your boo. Watch Sunday night football. Whatever you do, don’t check your work email or think about Monday morning.

Advertisements