Fast Food and Hard Labor

It’s been a busy day. I’d intended to make dinner and put it in the crockpot this morning and slept in instead, so I left for work without doing it. And then I found a craigslist offer of free railroad ties and set it up to pick them up after work. And finally, my other job asked me to come in this afternoon. So I left work in Concord at 1 pm, headed for the ties. Got there and someone else had beat me to them. Mumble, grumble, smile politely at the nice people and chat about the garden they are building. They tell me that they won’t take all of the ties, yay! After they leave I back in the truck (which I hate doing. I’ve only been driving for a year and backing up scares me silly) and pick the first one up. OOF… they must weigh about 120 pounds each. Getting myself and my work clothes (I had dressed casually, but not in grubbies) absolutely filthy and sweaty, I loaded a round dozen of the ties. My arms gave out then, and the poor truck had developed a definite down tilt to the back. I’m not sure what it is rated for, but I’m pretty sure I had a half a ton of timbers in there today. It’s almost 2 pm now. I hit the house at 2, I have to be at the library at 2:30. Wash hands, prep dinner. Fast food indeed – I have 20 minutes to execute dinner, wash, and complete a wardrobe change!

Venison Stew

1 1/2 lbs venison, cut into thumb sized cubes

3 tbsp fat

approx. 1 cup flour

2 large onions, rough chopped

4 carrots, rough chopped

8 oz sliced mushrooms (these were pre-sliced, and I would have added more if I’d had them in the frig)

2 tbsp chopped garlic (yes, pre-chopped thank goodness!)

7 potatoes cut into “spoon size” pieces. I determine how many potatoes by one for each person eating that night, plus one for the pot. I used Yukon Golds, as they were what I had on hand.

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper

1 1/2 cups red wine

6 cups water

salt and pepper

I browned the venison, once I’d cut it, in about 3 tbsp mixed butter and bacon grease (I didn’t have enough butter to hand, so I grabbed my container of bacon grease I always save and tossed that in, too.) I used more grease for this than I usually would because venison is so lean it would have scorched without it. As it was browning I threw in the one onion I’d chopped first, and then a scoop of flour, about a cup. While this was going on, I was chopping the vegies and throwing them with the wine and water into the crockpot, set on High (if you are going to cook this all day, set it on low). It was time to leave, so I scraped the meat, onions, and crispy goodness stuck to the bottom of the 14″ cast iron skillet I was using into the crockpot. I stirred, lidded, and ran for the door. Usually if you are cooking on High, this will take about 4-5 hours to finish. I’d managed it pulled together in 15 minutes. If I had had parsnips, and possibly fresh beets, I would have thrown them in there, too. I did toss in a couple of little tomatoes that were getting squishy in the vegie drawer.

After my work at the library was done – it’s not a long job, fortunately – I headed back to the house. Dinner already smelled divine. I grabbed the shovel and headed out with the bag of Bayberries in hand to plant. Decided I would use them to guild a couple more rocks in the pasture that hadn’t been marked with blueberries. After that, I planted the little figs, which are only a couple of inches tall. They went in a front flower bed for now. It’s on the south facing side of the house, which has a nice micro-climate. It warms up in the spring a good week early. While I was doing that I dressed the bed with mulch and built a brick border. Backed the truck (argh!) into the side yard to off load the timbers, which weighed even more the second time around. But I have enough for a nice start to my kitchen and herb garden now, and all it cost me was some hard labor.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dave Freer
    May 03, 2011 @ 22:35:33

    Not sure about American railroad ties, but they tend to be made of timber that resists rot – heavy, hard to work, but good for almost anything. Worth their weight.

    I hope your dad is recovering well (and drink lots of fluid yourself with the heavy lifting.). I wish I could order some maple syrup, but I am pretty sure that it would be subject to australia’s quarantine rules.

    I tend to cook double quantities of all the stewy type things (bollenaise too) and freeze half for these sort of disaster days…


  2. Dave Freer
    May 03, 2011 @ 22:50:41

    Well, I wrote a long comment but wordpress ate it :-(. Railroad ties (not sure about US) tend to be really good hard rot resistant timber, and worth the weight. But they weigh!

    I wish I could order some maple syrup – but I don’t think Australia would let it in.

    Good blog. Keep it up.


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