Thursday, November 06, 2008

Mrs. McGill's Beef Stew and Bran Muffins

On a rainy day more than a year ago, I set off on a work assignment to interview an artist for a local magazine I edited. My hair was frizzing, I was hungry and stressed. The last thing I wanted to do was drive across town with a photographer to interview an artist.

The house was surrounded by tall trees and more flowers than I had seen in the Pond, which normally features cactus and mesquite trees. Grabbing my notebook, I headed inside with the photographer.

The artist was no normal flaky crafter. This woman had a gift. Not only was she original and talented, but she was kind and delighted we were there. Her enthusiasm was sincere and heartwarming. First, we sat in her cozy kitchen were she served us slices of lemon coffee cake and coffee. She spoke of her family, her art and wanted to know everything about what we did.

The two hours at her house flew by. I was enchanted. Besides Marie and Libby, there are few women I have instantly connected with. Mrs. McGill was one of them. Her positivity overwhelmed me and I loved the joy she took in her work. As we left, she looked up at me and said, "Oh do come back! I do love having visitors."

I promised her I would. And I have at around once a month for almost two years.

When I come over, Mrs. McGill always fixes some tasty meal. I used to bring her sandwiches since she doesn't like to go out much, but now she insists on cooking and I bring her some kind of baked treat in return. Even though she's past 80, Mrs. McGill was raised with a mother who was ahead of her time, preaching the values of more vegetables, natural food and lean and less meat in meals. But even Mrs. McGill knows the value of fried chicken.

This is her stew. I have a lot to learn.

Mrs. McGill's Beef Stew

1-2 Packages of stew meat beef*
Fresh garlic
1 onion, sliced or chopped
Wessen Oil
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 large potato or 3 medium potatoes
Half a bag of frozen carrots
1-2 cans beef broth

Brown meat and crushed garlic in Wessen oil, just a slight amount. Add onion and brown a little more. Add two cans of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and beef broth. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour.

* I marinate my beef in Lowry's beef marinade for 15-20 minutes and season it with pepper and Lawry's salt.

No good stew is complete without some tasty bread. In keeping with my healthy theme, here's the recipe for bran muffins from my new favorite book, Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

Wheat Bran Muffins from Better Homes and Garden New Cookbook

1 /14 cups wheat or oat bran
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup skim milk ( I used 2 %)
1/3 cup honey ( I used more honey.)
1/4 cup refrigerated egg product ( I used an egg.)
1 tblspn. cooking oil
1/2 cup raisins

1) Spray muffin pan. Mix wheat, flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt. Make well in center of dry mixture.

2) In another bowl combine applesauce, milk, honey, egg and oil.

3) Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until moistened. Fold in raisins. Batter should be lumpy.

4) Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes. Remove from cups (I used a knife around the edges) and serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

*The book says that if 100% oat bran isn't available, place 1 1/3 cups rolled oats in a food processor and blend until like flour.

Tomorrow, a new Miss Pickles! And Saturday, we have the beginning of our first holiday story to whisk you off to a fabulous weekend of frivolity!


doggybloggy said...

SOUP AND MUFFINS wowza thats an ace - I make the worst muffins and biscuits - I need practice.....I couldnt comment for a bit there but I did read

Ingrid said...

Yum, I made a stew this past weekend in the slow cooker. Yours looks good!

I've always had a soft spot for elderly people. They are so interesting, I love their stories and they have so much to give. My grandma passed away this spring. She was 94 and a riot!! Thank you for sharing your story. Mrs. Mcgill sounds like an amazing lady.

April said...

This looks like the ultimate comfort food!

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

OH, that looks so good on a cold day. Ummmmm...

Cathy said...

Mrs. McGill sounds like a special woman! I bet that she looks forward to your monthly visits as much as you do. This stew looks fabulous -- great for this time of year! Nice muffins, too!

Greg C said...

Don't look now but there is a leaf in your soup. :) I made chili today and it is great but hot.

Megan said...

Looks like it would be pefect for a crisp cool evening and a visit with Mrs MiGill. Scrumptous yet simple.

Grammy Staffy said...

Yummy...would you please invite me over for some of that good looking stew and muffins.... I can smell them from here....thanks for the recipes.

Thanks for stopping by to say hi to me. I have been away about 2 weeks. We visiting our son in Kentucky and had a wonderful time but not much access to the computer. We just got back home and I will get caught up with my blogging again soon.

Have a nice day...and save me a bowl of that yummy looking stew.

Colleen said...

This looks great! And I LOVE the idea of marinating the stew meat first - brilliant!

Aleta said...

What a lovely story to go with a good cup of soup. Friendship is heart-warming, isn't it? Lovely post.

Lisa said...

Very nice recipes! You are lucky to have a friend like Mrs MCGill.

Theresa said...

What a great story, stew and muffins. I wish I lived near Mrs. McGill!!

Rosie said...

Mrs. McGill's Beef Stew looks wonderful and tempting and with muffins what a wow factor!

Rosie x

Emiline said...

How comforting! This sounds delicious.

I haven't had a bran muffin in so long... but I like them very much.

Pam said...

It's wonderful that you have forged a friendship with such a special lady...I am sure you have learned a lot from her. It's rainy and cold here - a bowl of that stew would be great right now.

Live.Love.Eat said...

Wow, I think that's incredible for you to have built such a nice relationship. It's like something we only see in movies - 2 people who at first glance don't have anything in common, form a bond. That's beautiful!

david mcmahon said...

As a journalist, I can identify with thath. Sometimes an encounter is SO MUCH more than just an interview!

Marjie said...

Mrs. McGill sounds wonderful! As for healthy biscuits, sometimes just tasty and comforting is better, at least in my little corner of the world.

When you change your recipes, do you scribble in your cookbooks? I do, or I'd never remember what I did. Sometimes my end recipe doesn't even resemble the published one, except that both might have flour in them!

Lorraine E said...

What a lovely friendship you two struck up-and I can imagine how you both look forward to it every month :)

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Soup and muffins, talk about confort food!!! I love bran, it's strange but I absolutely love it!

joanna said...

your muffins are beautiful!! i'm the biggest muffin fan you'll ever "virtually" meet haha

Sandy Toes said...

Soup and a yummy hot muffin sounds great!!!
-sandy toes

nikkicrumpet said...

She sounds like a very charming lady. And if I could cook..I'd so make that stew!

Bunny said...

You have certainly made a friend for life and why wouldn't you, your the sweetest! I happen to love beef stew, thanks for both of your yummy recipes!

Laurie said...

I love beef stew.. yumm!!

Heather said...

Mrs. McGill sounds lovely! I'm glad she has you to visit so often :) My grandfather lives farther away from me, and he has a buddy that drops in on him, too - makes me happy :)

The W.O.W. factor said...

I have that book, but never tried the muffins..they must be good if you are posting it :)
I have always enjoyed spending time with the older generation! They are genuine and have many stories they love to share!
Good that you continue to brighten her days!

Marie said...

You cannot beat a nice big bowl of homemade stew for comfort and those bran muffins are wowser! I have that book. I shall have to look them up and perhaps make some, although I found a good recipe for peanutbutter ones this morning that are plucking on my heart strings right now! Your Mrs. McGill sounds like a treasure and I know she must really appreciate all you do for her and your visits. It makes me love you all the more. Your mama must be so proud of you girl! You are a wonderful lady and so full of heart. It shows in your writing as well and that's why I am so determined that you will one day be a great success. A good writer always speaks from the heart, and you do that with Aces and Spades! I Love you to bits Girl!!! XXOO

Carmen said...

thanks for your delicious recipes.

Cakelaw said...

What a wonderful story - Mrs McGill sounds fabulous. And her stew looks delicious - a hearty meal for a cold night (and Lord knows we have plenty of them here).

Navita said...

hey cool blog! n lovely stew!
i don't eat beef but will try it with chicken :-)

i am new to the blogging world...want to say hi to my other blogger friends! :-)

TavoLini said...

That looks great! A perfect autumn dish :)

Anonymous said...

Beef stew is a favorite around here :)

Michelle said...

Oh now this wonderful food will cheer me up REAL quick! :)

~~louise~~ said...

What a lovely story garnished with warmth and comfort.

My favorite day of the week is Tuesday. That's when I go to the local senior citizen center and take a group of "fine" ladies food shopping. Always filled with bits of wisdom, on my last visit, Mrs. Barry warned me, "take your winter coat to the tailor rather than buying new." And, she said, "find a good cobbler things are going to be rough." She's 96.

Thank you so much for sharing, Blonde Duck.

Grace said...

"1/4 cup refrigerated egg product ( I used an egg.)"

for some reason, this made me laugh out loud. :)
meanwhile, the stew looks soul-satisfying, and i love bran muffins made with applesauce (and real eggs). nice work. :)

noble pig said...

That is an awesome story, just awesome, what a gift you found in something you didn't even want to do. That was luck.

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

Oh that stew looks DELICIOUS!!!!

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