By Joanna Bastian

Last Monday I decided to start the day off right, by getting up early to exercise, eat a healthy breakfast and pack a slimming salad for lunch. Here’s how the day transpired:

• 5:30 a.m. Bounced out of bed, unrolled exercise mat and assumed plank position.

• 7:30 a.m. Woke up face-down on the floor mat, dog licking my face. Vaguely remember doing one pushup. Now running late for work, no time to pack lunch or eat breakfast.

• 8 a.m. Stop at Carlton General store for a coffee, muffin and freshly made turkey sandwich on croissant for lunch. The store and parking lot are packed with out-of-town hunters. One of them holds open the door (nice) and says, “Morning, baby girl” (not nice).

• 8:10 a.m. Now slightly irritated and running late, I forget that I placed the cup of coffee on top of the car. The man who mistook a grown woman for a baby jumps in front of the car, waving his arms and yelling, “don’t go anywhere baby girl!” Remembering the coffee, I retrieve it, while the man continues to instruct me as if I were an infant, “buckle up, baby girl!”

• 9 a.m. I arrive to my job as the office administrator at the Bear Fight Institute, where scientists conduct research and publish findings on geological formations within our solar system. An airmail letter from Britain is in the pile of unopened mail. Marked “Private and Confidential,” the letter looks important. I email the scientist it is addressed to; he was out of town that week. He replies that it may need immediate attention, so I open the letter to find a handwritten note requesting a professional opinion on the existence of Loch Ness. A self-addressed stamped envelope is enclosed.

I take a long sip from the still-hot Carlton General Store coffee that I had earlier refrained from throwing on someone, and decide not to reply to the letter. Although I truly want to say, “Dear Sir, as a research institute located in the Pacific Northwest, we can only speak on issues relating to Bigfoot.”

The rest of the work day passed quickly without further incident, until the drive home, when a Methow Valley-sized traffic jam of cows took a leisurely stroll across the Rendezvous Road. The behooved “cow-moot” resulted in a dinner idea.

Beef stew ingredients browned in a pot on my stove later that evening. I grabbed a carton of beef broth and shook the contents vigorously before pouring into the pot. Then I reached for the can of Guinness and, without thinking, also shook it vigorously. I’d like to believe most of the Guiness dripped down into the pot after exploding all over the kitchen ceiling. I’d also like to believe that my ceiling was relatively clean.

For your enjoyment, here is my favorite beef stew recipe.

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 lb beef stew meat, cubed

¼ cup flour

2 tablespoons McCormick Grill Mates Applewood Rub

1 medium onion, chopped

3 Yukon potatoes, cubed

3 large carrots, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

32 ounces beef broth

1 bottle Guinness

1 cup red wine

4 oz tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Heat olive oil and butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Mix the flour and applewood rub into a bowl, add beef pieces and toss to coat. Add the beef and flour mixture to the pot, turning the meat to brown all sides. Add potatoes, onion, and carrots. Sauté vegetables until golden brown. Stir in garlic, beef stock, unshaken Guinness, wine, tomato paste, thyme, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover pot and bring mixture to boil before reducing heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, for one hour. Remove cover and let simmering stew thicken 15 minutes prior to serving.


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