My husband was craving beef stew. The weather was still a little unseasonably cool and we hadn’t had it in a while so he decided to dust off his cooking skills and make some. It was a Tuesday and he was at home for the day. I was at work and excited at the thought of dinner waiting for me at the end of it. He even shopped for the ingredients.
When I met my husband, one of the things I liked about him was that he could cook pretty good. But as we married and settled into a domestic routine I started cooking more and more – plus I liked it. I was honing my skills. Practicing new ideas and techniques on him. He is always a very willing food tester. And he tells the truth. No sugar-coating.
After a few years in, I had completely spoiled him and he never cooked anymore. I even took over the grilling duties after watching him squash the hamburger patties once too many on the grill. So when he said I am going to cook my father’s beef stew today. (His dad was a really good cook.) I said “Terrific! and I think we have potatoes already.”
When he called me at work the first time to ask if we had carrots and onions, I thought no problem – he was out at the store already and had forgotten to check before he left – happens to all of us.
When he called the second time to confirm the method of browning the meat with a dusting of flour I had to wonder if he remembered how to cook?
On the third phone call to ask where the Allspice was I expressed genuine concern. “What recipe are you following?” Unfortunately we did not get his father’s recipes written down before he passed away so I was really wondering what “dad’s beef stew” recipe he was following. He admitted he couldn’t remember his dad’s recipe so he had consulted an expert among the many on my bookshelf. Fanny Farmer. A local legend here in Boston and a source of inspiration to all cooks past, present and future.
Unlike me he followed the recipe directions exactly. Even boiling the water in the kettle first to de-glaze the pan. He even added the lemon juice the recipe called for. I was extremely impressed at both the stew – delicious – and the fact he followed all the directions exactly. That is something I have a hard time doing.
He never did find the Allspice.
The recipe can be found on page 166 of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook: The All-American Cookbook Classic 100th Anniversary by Marion Cunningham