Thursday, September 1, 2011

Beef Goulash

What I would like to know is when life got so complex? Nothing these days seems simple. On a beautiful enjoyable night out to dinner in the city instead of enjoying my surroundings, my mind is caught up on how much my heart aches these days. "Who is this person," I asked myself as I looked in the bathroom mirror at myself. I remember a very different girl who arrived in Melbourne less than a year ago. Wide eyes open and ready for everything. Now, however, I feel old and jaded. Things have changed.

Three years ago I remember working in a cafe in Melbourne loving the simplicity of life as I thought to myself "this is it. I am so content. I have a job I love, and I want to be cooking for the rest of my life. I have an amazing boyfriend and I know what I want. My life is basically set" It was such an amazing feeling to be so content with my lot, so very sure of myself. Three months later the cafe went broke, the head chef had a mental breakdown, my apprenticeship fell through, and I left the man I was with. Three years later, I have no idea what became of that chef, the cafe is now a Chinese take out, and the boy I was seeing presumably hates me as much as I do him.

When we are young we look ahead at the future at our 'grown-up life' and dream of all the beautiful things we will do. Things are so simple. So black and white. There are good guys and bad guys. Over the last few years I have been discovering that there are just ...guys (and that is not a promising reality at times.)

I am afraid I am becoming jaded, that I feel so let down by these complexities and have hardened myself a bit.

I have been working with red meat at cooking school at the moment and one thing I have learnt about cooking really tender stews and braises is that you must cook the meat slowly for a really long time. If you boil it, the meat will turn tough, and taste like an old boot. I can't help but wonder...have I been boiling instead of simmering my heart? Jumping from one relationship to the next, and throwing myself into situations that I do not yet have the skill to deal with, feels like this harsh boiling process that is making me tough...but not in a positive light. I would love to think that the older I get the more experienced I get, so I can deal with things beautifully and gracefully. Lately, however, I haven't always been feeling like that. I just feel old and haggard. So despite life being complex, I'm going to try and work on letting things simmer for a while. I'll see if I can't soften up a bit.

Here is something that takes hours to simmer...It's delicious and nice for these last few days of winter...

Beef Goulash

Serves if your not single, double it, or if you have a big family make heaps!

You will need:
  • 100g onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of marjoram
  • 1g caraway seeds
  • 1/4 lemon
  • 25g butter
  • 200g diced beef
  • 15g tomato paste
  • 5g paprika
  • 500ml of stock
What to do:
  1. Dice your onion and garlic.
  2. Melt half the butter in a pot, add the onion and garlic. Cook without colouring it but so it's translucent.
  3. Add the beef and seal (this means just cook so it's brown on the outside.)
  4. Add the tomato paste, stir through.
  5. Add paprika, stir through
  6. Add the rest of the butter, the zest of 1/4 lemon, marjoran, and caraway seeds.
  7. Add your stock (make sure all the meat is covered)
  8. Bring to the boil (but only for a few seconds....or your meat will go tough)
  9. Turn down the heat to a light simmer and good for 3 to 5 hours. I know that sounds like a really varied amount of time, but the longer you cook it the nicer and softer the meat will become. You will know its ready when all the liquid has thickened into a nice sauce that coats the meat and all liquids have absorbed.
This can be served with rice, or pasta, potatoes, or anything you like really. Enjoy

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