Sunday, January 1, 2017

HOMEMADE BEEF STEW - Electric Pressure Cooking

This Homemade Beef Stew is one of my family favorites! Last year, I broke down and purchased an Electric Pressure Cooker after hearing my mother rave about these amazing dishes she was cooking up that was taking very little time. Although I owned a regular stove top version of the pressure cooker (it was collecting dust in storage) I was intrigued at the idea of being able to PLUG-IN an electric cooker, stuff it full of raw meat/veggies and just literally walk away till dinner is hot and ready!

This cooker is such a TIME SAVER and I find myself cooking from it at least 3 or more times a week. I will always own one. Thank you, Mom!

So here's the recipe to one of our favorite dishes that takes less than 30 mintues...

                        Fast & Easy Homemade Beef Stew

INGREDIENTS:   Carrots, Potatoes, Onions, Celery

You can use either STEW MEAT already precut from the grocery store, or use your own meat (skirt steaks, Roasts, etc.) If the meat is prone to being tough, pressure cook it first till tenderized, and then cut into stew size and cook this recipe as a SOUP setting.

SPICES:  Salt, Pepper, Garlic... and if you want, also add a packet of Beef Stew seasoning mix. Sometimes, I'll add my own dehydrated onions to the batch.

After stew meat, spices, chopped celery and onions are in pot... I add WHOLE potatoes and carrots. Very little prep is needed as the cooker will tenderize these vegetables.

After ingredients are added, fill the pot with water to the FULL line, (or less if you prefer a thicker consistency)
Although there is a SOUP setting, I am using raw meat, so I'm selecting MEAT, and for TASTE (my cooker has a section where I can request extra tender for child/elderly which I prefer) I selected the highest setting, which means my cooker will take only 29 Minutes to cook the Beef Stew.

Although this recipe takes less than 30 mintues, it will still take the cooker a few minutes to build pressure, and after the timer goes off in 29 minutes, it will take an additional 5-10 minutes to decompress. The lid on the cooker has a safety feature where you can't accidentally remove lid before it's done decompressing.  What I especially love about this cooker is that prep time is very minimal and I can walk away when timer is set.

Since I pressure can a lot of food (which is different from pressure cooking) I have to babysit my stove top for hours on end till my home canning is complete. This electric pressure cooker is a luxury and has made life so much easier when trying to decide what to fix for dinner at the last minute. Who would have guessed that in less than half an hour (instead of several hours), you can have a pot roast with potatoes and vegetables waiting on the spur!

After cooker has depressurized, remove lid and stir contents, breaking apart the potatoes and carrots.

Dinner's ready!

Friday, July 22, 2016

OLD FORT PARKER - Step into the 1800's with Indian Raids and Abductions


Exactly 180 years ago, Fort Parker was raided by Native Americans and several of the inhabitants were killed. Some of the women and children were roped and dragged off, including 9-year-old Cynthia Parker. Her father was one of the men killed and she never saw her immediate family again, until many years later when the Texas Rangers rescued her as a grown woman and forced her to reunite with relatives in East Texas. So imagine as a young child abducted, and dragged off for miles from everything you knew. Cynthia found herself immersed into the strange languages and customs of the Comanches and eventually married the Chief in her teens. She later bore him three children, one whom became the great warrior chief, Quanah.  

As you stand in the exact spot of the fort, you can get a glimmer of insight on the security and lack of, due to the size of the cabins, height and depth of the walls --- and the fact that the only thing that separated your bed from the outside was a cedar log. Not to mention, the vulnerability of fire.

But what compromised their safety that morning on May 19, 1836, was the opening of the gate for a "white flag" bearing group of Native Americans and a pale faced man who was requesting assistance for food and water. Just so happened that the bulk of the settlers were not at the fort, but were working the fields, leaving the remaining women, children, and the senior Parker clan vulnerable.

This fort is a great way to capture the grand scope of things and to get your family talking about Texas History, not to mention, to gather a higher respect for the dangers that our ancestors has faced.

If you would like to learn more about the old fort, you can read from their website as well as learn about future events - parties, history reenactments, and for reunions.

Don't forget to BRING CASH. They do NOT accept debit/credit cards. $2 admission for adults

Shooting range outside of fort for events

Inside the visitor center are history books, some local crafts for sale, artifacts, photos, as well as bathrooms, and guest desk to ask questions.

Don't forget to visit the FORT PARKER STATE PARK  just down the road! Admission for the State Park is separate.