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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cooking Tuesday - a mix for Beef Stew (or Hamburger Gravy)

Lately, I have been researching how to make some things on my own instead of buying those small packets that cost a dollar.  There are quite a few reasons for this research project.

1. It's less expensive.

I'm always looking for a cheaper way of doing something, especially if it doesn't take forever.  And in this case, you make quite a bit and I use it in a lot of different things.  So it was worth it for me.  I did have to buy some spices I didn't have, but in the long run it was still a big save for me.

2. It's healthier.
Now I know what is in the seasonings I'm putting in the pot.  Everything is a spice or flour, no extra preservatives or anything.

3. Less to buy.
It's one more thing that doesn't go on my grocery list anymore.  I always would forget to buy them and then I would need them.  Now I have the spices that go into the mix and I can mix it up whenever I want.

It may seem weird to have a mix when you already have the spices.  Why not just put the spices in the stew or gravy? But I don't generally cook with a cookbook, even though I do reference them sometimes when I'm cooking.  And I can never remember if rosemary was one of the spices to go in the gravy or taco seasoning?  So I like to have a container of a mix that I can use.  I know it already has what I need to put in. 

So for my Beef Stew Mix recipe - I took a big Mayonnaise jar and put in the following spices and then shook it up to mix it all together.
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 4 teaspoons of oregano
  • 2 Tablespoons of basil
  • 4 Tablespoons each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and onion powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons of celery seed.
This makes a bunch of mix that lasted me almost six months.  I keep a smaller container in my spice drawer and the rest in the pantry. 

I mostly use this for Hamburger Gravy on Wednesday mornings.  It's pretty simple and at 5:30 in the morning I'm not awake enough to remember what all goes into this. 

First I take my pre-cooked hamburger and put it in the pan with a bit of oil (water works too and is usually my choice).  I just want to get the hamburger moist, so that the seasoning will stick to it. 

I sprinkle (but most recipes call for 2 to 3 tablespoons per pound), there is no way I can get away with using that much.  It's too spicy for our household.  So be careful and add some later if you like it spicier.  We are pretty much wimps when it comes to the spicy stuff - except for Daddy.

Then I stir it into the meat.  While it's sizzling a bit, I take 1/2 cup of flour and put water just enough to make a pourable liquid and stir it together - hot water works better.  Pour it in with the meat and then I use my nylon whisk to stir it into a gravy. 

You have to really watch it, because as it starts to thicken, you'll want to add milk.  I have no idea how much because I just pour some in and then mix it in and as it thickens, I add a bit more, till it's the consistency I want. 

It will burn if you don't watch carefully, so have someone help set the table or stir while you set.  Mine burns regularly because at 5:30 in the morning there are not many people up - the one who is up is getting ready to go to work.

It's very yummy over biscuits in the morning.

Another meal I use this mix for is anything with hamburger and rice.  Sometimes in a pinch, I take hamburger ( the pre-cooked) and add some veggies and some of the mix to the water.  It makes it taste so good.

Obviously it would work great in Beef Stew - if we ever had that, which we rarely do. 

Making the most of today,
Steph

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