It’s FINALLY starting to seem like fall here…the leaves are starting to change color, it’s getting dark earlier, and we had frost warnings last night. Thankfully it wasn’t a freeze warning, because I wouldn’t have felt like going outside to cover my plants at 10pm when I found out about it! It was still short-sleeve weather last week when we took the kids to the pumpkin patch…
…yep, that’s my daughter wearing a tank top and shorts in the middle of October. Within a week’s time, though, summer has officially been phased out. It’s all comfort food on the menu this week at our house!
At my husband’s request, I made Swiss Steak tonight. Having never made this before, I searched for a recipe that seemed close to what my Grandma Jean used to make — memories of her making this when I was very young are what is evoked when I think of this dish. Because I remember her making it often, I’d always gotten the impression that this was the sort of thing people ate in the 1950s, when mod young-marrieds dressed impeccably for any life event (even a mundane weekday dinner) and life, in general, was peachy-keen. Perhaps this dish has gone out of fashion because it features a tough cut of beef — red meat has gotten such a bad rap over the years, my whole lifetime really — but I think that’s what we liked about it. The steak simmered in tomato juices, onions, and spices for well over an hour, then we served the whole thing over mashed potatoes, with the juices acting as a gravy. The only thing missing from my childhood recollection was green bell peppers. Husband and I realized that after taking the first bite!
To make the mashed potatoes dairy-free, I add a liberal amount of Smart Balance margarine, some unsweetened soy milk, and salt and pepper (to taste). We’re looking forward to the day we can use REAL milk products in our potatoes, instead of creating a fake, soy imposter. I’m looking into a substitute for all the soy, since my husband and I are not big fans of soy, and we’re starting to think our daughter is developing a sensitivity toward it.
For a vegetable side, I braised four turnips. To back up a bit, let me mention that when I plan out the week’s menu, I usually plan for certain vegetables to be used (according to what’s in season, what I’ve found locally) and come up with the exact preparation later. So when I did a search for “braised turnips” earlier today, I was pleasantly surprised that the first item it came up with was from a blog I’ve been following, the Nourished Kitchen. Her recipe calls for ghee, bone broth, and parsley, which sounds wonderful, especially when looking at the pictures! But since I can’t use ghee, didn’t have bone broth, and only had dried parsley, I opted instead to go simple with some oil, stock, and salt and pepper. I melted a teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan, added the turnips, then drizzled a little bit of walnut oil on top of the turnips. (The combination of oils wasn’t for any particular reason, except that we’re still getting used to coconut oil.) I didn’t leave them there long enough to brown — everything else was ready, I had started the turnips too late — but that would’ve made them even better. I let them simmer in some boxed chicken stock until the liquid was almost completely reduced, then dressed them up with some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
So here’s the whole thing, with a slice of my homemade bread on the side:
In spite of looking too white with the mashed potatoes and uncaramelized turnips, it all tasted good and homey. Now, let’s just hope my photography skills improve.