My lovely Irish mother had a few dishes that she fixed regularly that were terrific. I tried to get her to tell me how to make them, but if you’ve ever tried to get a recipe out of your mother, it’s difficult. “Oh, I just add some of this and a little of that…” I even tried to watch and write it down, but it all happened too fast.
She wanted me to be able to cook for myself, so I got some Basic Training. Despite my occasional “box of Hostess Cupcakes and 2-liter Coke” dinners, I cooked pretty well for a bachelor on his own. Anyway, one of my favorites was her Beef Stew. I found out that her secret ingredient was Kitchen Bouquet.
It’s a “browning and seasoning sauce” (from the Wikipedia entry, you’d think it adds no flavor at all). For me, that was the stuff that makes it taste like my Mom’s beef stew. Other than that, there’s carrots, potatoes, one onion, stew meat, and salt and pepper. The recipe I started with came with my first Crock Pot. I used to fix a lot of meals in that when I lived by myself. Load it up in the morning and 9 hours later come home to a warm meal.
When I worked at That Company, for a while we had a Lunch Club. At its height there were 11 members. Every Friday, it was somebody’s turn to cook for all 11. Some treated us to exotic barbecues or curry dishes, but every 11 weeks, I made my mom’s Beef Stew and brought some rolls. The club members were not disappointed.