Confession Wednesday- Cover-ups

I was all set to sit down and explain to you how I gave in, how I bowed to the stereotypes of motherhood, and how I went against what I used to (and still do on occasion) preach- not turning my entire life into a kids’ activity. I was going to tell you that I am throwing my nearly two year old daughter a party because my sister-in-law guilted me into it; I was going to say that I am turning into that Martha Stewart-inspired mommy and that I take back all that I said about never being that mommy.

But none of that is really true. Of course it all adds up, but the birthday party, like the music class we go to every week, like the wide variety of fairly intricate stews I cook- all things I purportedly do/make for my kid, make me happier than they make her. I am still not that mommy. I can pretend though and do things I couldn’t if I didn’t have Lulu.

Let me break this down. The kid is two. Clowns freak her out, she would melt down if anyone attempted to paint her face, and she doesn’t quite get the gifts and songs and parties, even with her being at the center. And no, I am not bringing in a clown– or face painting. No matter what we do, she will have the same memories of it that you do of your second birthday- remember it? And it would be much easier for me to photoshop her into pictures of some lavish kids’s birthday bash and tell her, when she grows up, that she had the coolest second birthday party.

Music class is an activity we started several months ago. She likes it- no doubt. But I like it more. I clap, cheer, and sing, loudest in the class, total teacher’s pet, along with my best friend who does the same, once a week, while our respective children are not entirely sure what got into us and why we’re competing with toddler for Kate’s (the teacher) attention. I love music class and Lulu gives an excuse for being there.

And then there are the stews. I did own up to the soup addictions/whore-ness in this post. Well, stews are in the same category. Lulu does love them and she particularly liked the one
But the kid is not a big eater. It’s not like she’ll demand this lamb stew or this beef bourguignon or this bolognese. Yet I keep on making them, endless variations, one more interesting than the next, inspired by Alice Waters, or Thomas Keller, or, today, Anthony Bourdain.

So there goes the confession- I use my child as cover for the various activities that I would otherwise not be able to partake in. Although, I am pretty sure, stews are appropriate even without kids. Or maybe not as many as I make.

Daube Provencale, a Bourdain-inspired recipe

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil; 2 tablespoons butter; 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder cut into 1 to 1 1/2 cubes; 1/2 pound Long Farm Bacon (or your favorite bacon); 1 yellow onion, finely chopped; 2 celery ribs, finely chopped; 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed; 1 tablespoon tomato paste; 1 cup white wine; 4 cups dark veal or lamb stock; 2 small carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped; 1 bouquet garni; 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed; 4 springs of flat-leaf parsley.

Cut the meat up in the desired size cubes, season it with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight. That’s what Alice would do.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat up a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the butter. It will melt and begin to foam. Went the foam subsides, add the meat and brown it working in small batches. Set meat aside. Add the bacon and cook until it gets crispy and the fat reduces.

Remove the bacon and add it to the browned meat. Discard most of the fat that reduced from the bacon and return the pot to medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and carrot.

Cook until caramelized stirring with a wooden spoon to coat the vegetables well. Stir in the tomato paste and blend it well with a wooden spoon. Pour the white wine in and deglaze the brown bits from the sides of the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.

Return the lamb and bacon to the pot. Add bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cover the pot over low heat for about 90 minutes. Add the potatoes and keep on cooking until they are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Check on doneness for the potatoes and cook longer if needed.

Serve in a big bowl. Share with your children. Or don’t. Or tell them you cooked it for them!

Photography by Jennifer Olson

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  • Monet

    Your candor and honesty is about the most refreshing thing I stumble upon each day. Thanks for sharing, love.

  • Pierce

    I absolutely love your blog. Had to add it to my blogroll. I've been following in Google Reader for some time now.


  • Baking Barrister

    Use her while you can before she starts being the reason for things you don't want to do :)

    Also, i gave you an award. It's up over here

  • Cook with Madin

    You are a great mom. Thank you for sharing this recipe. My son gave me this book Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles a few years ago. I enjoyed the recipes here.
    Your photos here are great.

  • The Housewife

    Pretty pictures! I've always wanted to try Bourdain's recipes… he's such a rock star!

  • The Mom Chef

    Outstanding. I relate very well to your daughter as cover for doing things you love to do. I do the same and will continue, knowing that as she feels my love for something it'll grow in her too.

  • The Cilantropist

    I make stews and I don't have any kids! (yet!) :) This looks and sounds amazing, and I am sure it the taste was incredible.

  • lisasfoods

    I don't have children, but I can see how one's thoughts change once you have kids. Thank you for your honest post.

  • Andra

    Thanks all for your comments. That stew came in handy last week when Denver dropped to 55 degrees (for a high!) in June. Stop back by soon!

  • Magic of Spice

    What a pleasing post:) Your Lulu sounds like a very lucky little one. The dish looks great!

  • Lawyer Loves Lunch

    This is hilarious! I hope that when I have kids, I can use them for stuff (like playing in the ball pit at Chuck E Cheese) :)