I love cold, gray, wet, and dreary days.  They’re the perfect excuse to bake some bread, make a soup or stew, light a fire in the fireplace, and, generally, be a slug.  All of my favorite things to do.  Especially the slug part.

And today was the perfect cold, gray, wet, and dreary day to do a couple of the above.  I got home too late to make bread, but I had plenty of time to make stew and be a slug.  And the fireplace is being lit as I type.

Life is good.

When I make soups and stews, I somehow think I’m still cooking on an aircraft carrier.  I don’t know what it is, but small amounts just do not compute.  There are two of us.  I do not need several pounds of meat, and even more potatoes, celery, carrots, etc…  But I break out the pot and need to fill it.  And we then have enough to feed the neighborhood.

My solution tonight was to just use a smaller pot.  (I know…  what a concept, eh?!?)  I’ve tried it before with other pots – and ended up dumping everything into a larger pot.  I decided to make a go of it one more time.  And tonight, it worked!  A manageable amount!

I also cooked the onions in bacon grease – and then because there just happened to be three slices of bacon in the refrigerator – I sliced up the bacon and added it to the onions, then browned the mushrooms and the beef.  I generally don’t use bacon in my beef stew – I save it for making Julia’s boeuf bourguignon – but it was there.  And I’m really glad it was.

I wasn’t vying for the complex flavors of boeuf bourguignon.  I just wanted to add a bit more flavor to a Thursday night beef stew.

It worked.

Potatoes, celery, carrots, a quart of beef broth and a pinch of herbs d’Provence.

That was it.

Another thing I did differently was thicken it with rice flour.  I picked up a box of it a while ago because it is especially good at thickening things that are going to be frozen.  It keeps things from separating when they thaw.  I added the same amount nixed with water as I would have with wheat flour and it worked just fine.

And warm cheese focaccia to dunk.

Time to slug.