You know when you start a New Year you try so hard to be positive but on days like this it’s pretty difficult.
Two days ago was simply horrendous for us. As usual Neil left for work at 4.30am and Gabriel jumped into bed with me. The problem was that he didn’t fall asleep. Just as I started to drift away he would fidget. This carried on for two hours until I got too annoyed, got up and dressed. Whoosh, Gabriel ran down the corridor and back again, made a turn, slipped and fell. Bwaaaah! His mouth was filled with blood and since he can’t talk yet he couldn’t tell me what’s wrong. As usual, when I panic, I call Neil. Any head injuries? Don’t think so. He had some bad news for me…
The electricity was out. The boiler too. Without boring you with all the details Gabriel and I were trapped in a house with subzero temperatures the whole day without any electricity. Neil made dozens of calls for help to come but to no avail. We couldn’t go out for a walk because it’s too cold and icy and unfortunately, I don’t have a car so that we could escape. At least Gabriel was okay when I later realised he bit his lip when he fell. He made me jealous with his permanently happy disposition, oblivious to any problems we are experiencing and best of all he’s a completely self-reliant hot water bottle while I was shivering of the cold in layers of clothing. Apparently, a household with an expectant mother and a child under three years old don’t come very high on gas companies’ priority list and by the time Neil arrived home I was one miserable cow.
Immediately, Neil put on his Mr. Fix-It cap on and got to work. He figured out the boiler, fixed it and the electricity, saving us at least £180. Within an hour the house was just about back to normal again. He definitely saved the day!
What exactly caused all this havoc? A badly designed boiler combined with shoddy workmanship when the thing was installed. The squirrels didn’t help either but we’re eliminating them slowly; a déjà vu from exactly a year ago.
And what do we eat after a day like this? To hell with diets! We want comfort food! A pile of fluffy mash drowned in beef stew, followed by steaming sticky toffee pudding accompanied by cold custard. Who said food isn’t therapeutic?
Recipe source: Waitrose
Download and/or print the recipe! Click HERE.
Beef, Chestnut and Red Wine Stew
Preparation: 15 mins – Cooking Time: 2 hrs
- 450g (1 lb) braising steak, cut into large cubes and tossed in seasoned flour
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 250ml (1 cup) red wine
- 300ml (½ pint) beef stock
- 2 carrots, sliced in batons
- 200g (½ lb) cooked chestnuts, fresh or vacuum-packed
- Fry the beef in a little oil in a small casserole until brown.
- Add the onions and keep frying until they brown.
- Add the thyme, wine and stock, bring to the boil, then simmer for 1 hour, lid on.
- Add the carrots and chestnuts, then season and cook gently for another hour, lid off.
Alternative Cooking Method
Cook in a preheated oven, 160°C/fan 140°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3, for the same length of time.
Serve with rice, mash or baked potatoes.
The fresh, roasted chestnuts taste much better in the stew than the vacuum-packed ones.