Monday, December 7, 2009

Back to Food and the Pantosphere

When I went shopping last week, I had my list in hand and a good idea of what it would cost. Lamb, at this time of year, can be very expensive but there are usually bargains to be found. On this shopping trip however, sadly, not. I therefore did what any frugal, thrifty maw would do and changed my entire menu, quickly summing up that most of the ingredients already in my trolley could be used with beef or chicken instead.

The bill came to £54 and will feed us all for 9 days, possibly more, with leftovers.

My niece was staying with us on Friday through to Saturday and Kelly had a friend come over; with a few unexpected visitors thrown in for good measure, I decided to make the beef stew I had planned with added sausages and dumplings. I threw potatoes in for good measure, making it a one pot job. The kids can't get enough of stewed sausages, much preferring them to the tender chunks of beef; don't get me wrong, they totally chewed them down too but it was extra sausages requested, more than anything else.

The entire meal came to approx. £4 and fed 8 people with a little leftover for a solitary meal.

On Sunday, we had our annual trip the pantomime; 44 of us traipsed onto the train, excited kiddies in hand, to go to the Tron theatre in Glasgow's Trongate district to see the alternative panto 'Ya Beauty and the Beast'. For my American and Canadian friends, I believe this is more of a British tradition and it may be hard to imagine the appeal of grown men dressed up as panto dames, resplendent in the most wonderful, weird and wacky outfits you ever could see, but appeal it does and is a tradition I for one recommend wholeheartedly.

This is the third year we've went as a big crowd and it was hilarious, as usual. I'd arranged sweeties and juice for everyone, trying to hand them out to 43 hungry weans and their parents before the performance began; I failed but surreptitiously tossed them along the aisles until everyone had a bag of chocolate buttons, wine gums or other sweetific treat. The staff had arranged for our pre-booked ice cream to be delivered to our seats at the interval, meaning I could rest rather than run around.

The Tron does the best pantomime in Glasgow and we've been to them all; the wonderful postmodern panto performance, the excellent actors, the truly Glaswegian humour, the little bit of social statement and always a wee dig at the other pantos in nearby theatres and pantos in general make it laugh out loud funny from beginning to end. Since we inhabited the first four rows, we were picked on a few times; to Eric, one of the dads "is that a tie you're wearing, son, or is your tongue just hinging oot?"; to his wife "you all look lovely tonight...except you....don't worry hen, I hear that looks coming back intae fashion" made us feel we were part of the show. The actual theatre is small and cosy, the seats staggered, giving great views from wherever you happen to be and the staff are amazing, considering the amount of excited and wired to the moon kids they see on a daily basis and some of the parents too!

Bunty Beautox

To my Scottish friends, I couldn't recommend this more; go see it, before it's too late!

Beef Stew
A few pounds of beef chunks
Seasoned flour
A tablespoon of oil and butter
Beef stock to cover
Chopped onion
Chopped carrot
A dash of red wine
Potatoes, peeled and quartered-amount to taste

Cover the beef in the seasoned flour. Shake of excess. Heat oil and butter in a pan and as soon as the butter starts to foam, add in some of the beef; do not crowd the pan. Once browned all over, remove to a warm plate and put in some more beef. Repeat until all the beef is browned. Throw in the onions, give a quick stir and remove to plate with the beef. Throw in the remaining flour and stir. Pour in a dash of red wine-stand back as it will let off a cloud of steam-and stir into the flour mix. Don't worry if it is a bit lumpy. Let it reduce a little and then add the beef stock a little at a time. You can add tinned tomatoes if you want but I tend not to if making dumplings and adding potatoes.

Add beef and onions to pan, making sure any liquid is poured in too. If more beef stock is required, add it...enough to cover the meat and a wee bit more for luck...or to stop it drying out! Add carrots, stir and bring to the boil. Put on a lid and simmer on a very low heat for 1 hour. Check that it IS simmering. After an hour, add potatoes and simmer for at least another 30 minutes, I prefer an hour. Make sure that you check that the beef is will be...and the potatoes are too; sometimes, they're not, depending on size of chunks because it is cooking in a simmer only.

Add seasoning if required.

If adding dumplings, put these in 15 minutes beforehand.


mise said...

Stewed sausages! I wonder whether my fussy pair would eat those. Worth a try. I'd say I could eat them myself if I thought of them as something else, perhaps misshapen meatballs.

Helen McGinn said...

mise, my eldest isn't a fan of meat but loves stewed sausages! Go figure! I stew them for her usually in chicken stick with carrots, onions and potatoes (stovies). You should try it. :O) x

Janice said...

Great one-pot, I lurve the sausages and the dumplings. Not so keen on the panto though, my mum is a panto fiend, she produced amateur panto for about 20 years and I'm afraid it just doesn't do it for me.

Catherine said...

Mmmm, that beef stew sounds and looks delicious!

Protege said...

I am amazed by the price; £54 for the whole family for over a week! This equals to about 500Dkr. Forget to get food this cheap in Denmark, I think we must have one of Europe's most expensive groceries. I live alone and buy my groceries at the least expensive marked and I end up paying 300Dkr per week.
The recipe sounds good and the pictures as always look great.;)

kys said...

Beef stew sounds good on a cold night like tonight.

Shelle said...

yum, I'm so ready for a new stew recipe and it's on my menu this week...have never cooked dumplings but I think I'll give them a good too. Would love to go to the theatre...this winter...I think we'll be sticking to museums though.

Christine said...

Oh the stew looks divine! I have to say that the that a ladle?'s out of this world! I've got to find one like it for myself. Awesome.
How I wish 'Ya Beauty and the Beast' would play here in the states...I'd get front row looks like a romp! I think we'd love it here.
Congrats to you for sticking to your budget..I know that around the holidays I easily spend double on groceries. All the extra folks dropping in and the dishes to make and take for gatherings, really add up:)

Little Ms Blogger said...

No bay leaf in your stew? Hmmmm...

The Tron sounds like the holiday tradition here in the States of the Nutcracker.

Sounds as though you had a lot of fun.

Mae said...

Those dumplings should be called "plumplings" - they look fantastically luscious!

Judy Harper said...

Oh this looks delicious! At our church, we have an event where the men dress up as women and do skits. It's hilarious especially as men have on stockings with those hairy legs and mustache with women's hats and wigs. The kids get a kick out of it, especially when one of the Dad's come on stage.

Transparent Mama said...

Yum! I am so excited to make this. A perfect meal for my new cold abode!

Unknown Mami said...

I'd love to see that performance.