A week or so ago, I was spending my afternoon at home dozing on the bed. I'd been in there maybe an hour, when a strange noise half-woke me.
I pondered getting up, but decided against it, rolled over and went back to sleep. Sometime later I was again half woken by the closet door in the hall being opened. I vaguely remember the sound of vacuuming, and then sometime after that the sound of the closet door again being opened. Mostly awake by then, I rolled up onto my elbows and looked up as Matt came into the room.
"We're buying a new vacuum cleaner." He grumbled, then walked out.
Apparently, he killed several flies in the living room and they'd fallen behind the loveseat, but our poor vacuum cleaner flatly refused to suck them up. It wouldn't pick up flies... We gotten the thing 3 years ago for Christmas from my parents. It wasn't an expensive one, around 50 dollars or so. (My parents tend to buy more expensive quality things, rather then cheap ones, but we got a LOT of house things that year!) In fact, the thing fails to suck so badly, that I had practically given up on vacuuming altogether.Matt's alergies were going crazy and the floor was getting grimy, so off Matt and I went to Best Buy to purchase a shiny new vacuum cleaner!
... And straight home we went after getting there and looking at them- since when is there such a wide selection of vacuum cleaners? We dug around for reviews and settled on the Dyson Ball DC40.
I. LOVE. THIS. VACUUM. Secretly, I've always scoffed at the 'Dyson ball' vacuum. We've all seen the commercials, the swirling hurricane force vortexs inside, the easy to maneuver and turn ball for steering. Well, it's all true. Who knew? I can glide this thing around corners no problem. The bin that collects all the grime and dust has a quick release button the top, letting me dump the dust straight out the bottom of it, and it all falls right out! It never loses suction. We emptied the bin three times the first go through of the house, and it fills it up nearly every time I use it, it picks up so much stuff. Totally worth it you guys, buy one!
Oh, and those flies? I found out later that Matt had just left them all behind the loveseat, and they all got squashed flat from the cat lying on them when she sat in the sun back there. *Sigh*- Men. The Dyson picked them all right up though!
Anyway, a few days later I got a wild hair and decided to make beef stew. No, not my usual beef stew, which you can see by Clicking Me! No, I wanted real stew- Beef, slow braised with onions and mushrooms in broth and wine for hours, with tasty rich veggies to go along with it. So off I went to Walmart to buy a dutch oven! I've wanted one forever, there's so many tasty stews, soups, and briased-ey things I can make in one!
I'm always looking at the ones at Williams and Sanoma when I go in, but the ones they carry there are over $200, a little out of my price range for one piece of cooking equipment. This one however, is basically the same construction (Enameled cast iron) for about a fourth of the price at $60. I took my prize home, got it washed up and seasoned in the oven. Being cast iron, it felt like I was trying to wash a small elephant in the sink...
After it was ready to go, I started on the stew, for which you can find the recipe I used Clicking Here! It was excellent overall, although I made some tweaks to it, and one mistake. I forgot the tomato paste, though it came out fine. And I cut down on the number of potatoes, opting to add mushrooms in with the onions and garlic during the initial braising, and celery in with the added veggies. It didn't come out as thick as I'd have liked, and I did add cornstarch to it after it was done; however, I think I will be adding more the next time.
Though it was a labor of love indeed (It took about 4 hours overall, with at least 2 hours of that being active prepping/cooking time) it came out exceptionally. The flavors were rich and deep, with the flavor of the wine lingering in every bit. The meat was super tender, and by adding the vegetables in for only the last hour or so of the cooking, they retained their individuality and firmness instead of going all to mush. Served with some nice, crusty fresh bread, it'd be a meal fit for a king.
And definitely one worth buying a $60 dutch oven for!