Thursday, August 14, 2008

My winter of (fat) contentment

The installation of our slow combustion wood heater has had a few negative impacts.

The first is that it is now very hard to leave our house on the weekends. Example one. Lets check out Movida next door tonight. Actually lets eat something from the freezer and stay in front of the fire and watch Buffy DVD's. Example 2. it is raining and howling outside, should we a) go to the gym or b) curl up with a good book in front of the heater?

The other rather bad impact is that eating and sitting in front of the fire seem to go hand in hand. Why, I am not sure but it might help explain the sudden weight gain. Sigh. And now I can take that one step further and combine the heat from the fire with the actual cooking of food! Just like in the good old days (which were not actually my good old days, but you know what I mean).

After reading Neils post on jacket potatoes in his fire I was just itching to try it in my fire. Unfortunately it worked too well and I am now blaming him for my weight gain. Ok that is probably not fair and my husband is loving the whole potato in the fire thing so I really should be thanking him.

The winner so far has been serving the potatoes with a slow cooked chilli con carne. I made way too much of it and froze some batches so we have been pulling it out for easy dinners. So easy! And gives me more time to watch Buffy. I didn't say that. We have also popped some spuds into the fire to have with roast chook and just for snacks. All good!
The recipe below is rough and I probably added more stuff to it (as I usually do) but it is a hardy recipe, and using cheaper cuts of beef is the only way to go here as they tenderise with long cooking times and allow a richer flavour to develop.

Chilli Con Carne (makes a fair bit)

1kg chuck steak
diced onion
crushed garlic
diced carrot
diced celery
diced leek
ground cumin
ground corriander
cardomen pods, bashed lightly
bay leaf
cinnamon stick
chilli powder and fresh chilli (to taste)
tinned tomatoes
frozen corn
tin of red kidney beans
salt, pepper, etc

Basically, gently saute the onions, carrots and leaks in some oil, add the spices and fry for a few minutes until fragrant, season, add tomatoes and stock/ water. Bring to simmer and add chuck steak (not diced) and simmer gently for 2 hours or until tender. At this point, i remove the chuck steak and shred with 2 forks before returning the meat to the pot with some corn and kidney beans and simmering for 10 more minutes until cooked.

Serve over potatoes, in a burrito or over rice and with guacomole, sourcream and grated cheese. Eat in front of fire and follow up with chocolate. Or worse, a chocolate pudding.

For the potatos, we pierced them with a fork a few times, wrapped them in foil and put them at the front of the fire box (not in direct flame). After about 40 minutes we put them directly over the coals for 10 minutes so that the potatoes develop a nice jacket. And dont have the fire roaring as you dont want to incinerate the spuds.

I need to take a better photo of our fire but you can see the two big foil wrapped spuds in the left front corner there. mmmmm spudy goodness.
I am going skiing at thredbo next week and have been coming up with meals we can cook for 7 people (hungry after a day of skiing) that is easy and nourishing to cook. so far i have come up with spag bog (with kangaroo mince of course), a chicken stirfry, a veg curry, a dahl and some frozen soups for lunches. Any other ideas for good dinners that are simple and scaleable for many hungry people?

1 comment:

Jenaveve said...

Curled up in front of the fire (with jacket potatos a-cooking) and watching old Buffy DVDs sounds like a fine example to me!