Confession No. 70 — Some things in life just are.

An unearthed vision brings new light and understanding. When you dig up the same vision for the second or third time, it can be painful.

I experienced a repeat epiphany this past week when I stepped from the warmth of my car upon reaching the office. This time though, instead of a gentle oracle-like reminder, I was slammed in the gut with crisp cool air and the ambrosial aroma of barbecue smoke.

Yes. An 8 a.m. whiff of slow-smoked brisket, sausage, chicken and boudain sometimes causes me to think deeply. This time it was about how stuff — like early morning barbecue cravings — just happens and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.

Preachy know-it-alls
As far back as I can remember, there’s been one in every crowd — the person who has all the answers with nary a thing to back up the grandstanding declarations. Not sure who that person is in your crowd?

  • The preachy know-it-all feeds off of identifying problems or shortcomings. Everyone else’s (supposed) problems, that is.
  • Sometimes, but not always, the preachy know-it-all will use words like ‘we.’ It’s a ruse. This person really means ‘you’ or ‘them.’
  • Almost always, the preachy know-it-all, when asked to provide evidence, will look down and smile while shaking his head. And then offer nothing.

How to rid yourself of this pesky person? Just stare him in the eyes, nod your head in a ‘yes’ motion and daydream about smoked brisket.

On a related note, you will run into people who believe it — because they saw it in print. I guess they suppose that, since someone took the time to write it down, it must be true. There’s nothing you can say or do to change their minds. So, don’t bother.

Handicap placards, Cadillacs and other listless moments
Want to arrive late to work or elsewhere? Make certain that you drive behind someone with a sky blue handicapped placard hanging from their rear-view mirror. It never fails. That person drives slowly, in all likelihood, because the placard is blocking his view. Such is why it’s illegal in most states to have the placard hanging from the rearview mirror while the vehicle is in motion.

Cadillacs, some Buicks and Lincolns are also a guarantee of driving well below the speed limit. These are the same vehicles that pack parking lots during early bird specials. No further explanation is necessary.

More causes of delay: Just get behind me in a bank drive-thru or grocery store line. No matter how hard I try, I tend to pick the lane with the guy who does all of his banking through a two-way speaker, or with the lady who is auditioning for a spot on the extreme coupon show. Don’t know which lane I’m in at the store? Just listen for the squeaky cart wheel. I always manage to get that one.

Finally, most of us have had those moments when nature was violently and painfully calling — perhaps after following the aroma of barbecue smoke to its source. If you’re on the road and such a situation arises, chances are, you’ll catch every red light.

And it’s probably because you are behind someone with a handicapped placard hanging on the rear-view.

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There’s nothing wrong with the beef stew that I grew up on. Served with hot buttered biscuits and honey, it still brings me comfort about twice a year. But I occasionally want something that will similarly make me so full that I hurt — without the tomatoey Heinz 57 Sauce flavor and overabundance of celery strings. Beef Short Rib Stew definitely does the trick. And it’s good enough for company.

Beef Short Rib Stew

Beef Short Rib Stew

This ain’t the stew that you grew up on. If it is, your childhood was much happier than mine.

3 lbs. – Beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces
¼ cup – All-purpose flour
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
¼ cup – Vegetable oil

3 – Bacon slices, chopped finely
4 – Large carrots, ½-inch dice
3 – Celery stalks, 1-inch dice
8 oz. (1 pkg.) – White button mushrooms, rinsed and halved
3 cloves – Garlic, minced
3 – Thyme sprigs
3 TB – Tomato paste

1 cup – Red wine
6 cups – Beef or veal stock
10-15 – Pearl onions
½ cup – English peas (frozen)

Season ribs with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven to medium high. While oil is heating, dredge ribs in flour, a few at a time. Sear ribs on all sides until browned. Set aside.

You should have a little (hot) oil and about 1-2 TB of flour remaining. Add the flour to oil. Stir to combine (will brown quickly). Add bacon, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Combine and cook for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat. Add tomato paste and combine. Cook for another 2 minutes, or so. Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute — until wine has just about evaporated.

Place ribs and any juices back in Dutch oven. Add stock and onions. Stir to combine.

Bring to boil, uncovered, then lower heat to medium/medium-low. Cover, with lid propped so that steam can escape and the broth can reduce. Stir and skim fat occasionally for about 2 hours, until liquid has almost reduced to a gravy-like consistency. Add peas and simmer, uncovered, for anther 10-15 minutes.

Season to taste with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over smashed potatoes.

Serves 6 people.


  1. This is definitely the sort of meal I love to have in winter. Being I am in Australia, no chance of that this time of year. <3 thanks for sharing.

  2. oh my gawd, we must be neighbors!! I’ve been behind him in the drive-thru lane at the bank that I actually went as far as to get out of my vehicle and introduce myself to Mr. Blue Lincoln Towncar man. Incidentally, his name is Elmer. His wife Louise was in the car with him. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice her newly coiffed blue hair from behind the wheel of my car because she’s so short her head doesn’t come up past the head rest. That’s when I went back to my car and bowed my head…thanking God that Elmer was driving instead of Louise.

  3. Taking On Magazines says:

    Yup, I feel your pain on all fronts. I figure we have the same line gene because I’m always in the one where the tape runs out or they change clerks just as I get to the front. I figure it’s what I get for praying for patience for so many years; experiential learning.

    Your stew is gorgeous. I love using beef ribs that way and think adding the bacon is, well, downright sigh-able.

  4. My French Heaven says:

    What a delicious looking plate! I am enjoying your blog very much! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. We must live closer than I thought, because I’m always behind the slow gut at the bank, the coupon queen at the grocery, and the blue hairs everywhere else.

    • I was going to include the makes/models of vehicles to avoid driving behind, but I didn’t want to offend anyone who drives an Oldsmobile, Cadillac (any 4-door model), Buick or Ford Ranger pickup that’s been on the road at least 10 years (almost always a house painter).

  6. That looks effing awesome. Long live the rib!

  7. I’m constantly in a rage over all the things you listed in this post, simply because I’m the one with the bad luck to always get stuck behind these people. Coming home to this stew would make me forget about all the madness. Thank God I have beef short ribs in my freezer so that I can make this!

  8. I love the layered flavors!

  9. Adam you are so sage, you give the best advice. Love the spare rib recipe, that is truly comfort food personified lol.

  10. This is the perfect meal for winter in Arkansas!! Any tips on how to make this crockpot friendly??

    • Thanks, Iesha. If I were making this in a slow-cooker, I’d make the cuts on the vegetables a little larger (but not saute them); Sear the ribs; put everything together; and put it on ‘low’ before you walk out the door to go to work. I’d also prop the lid slightly during the last couple of hours, if possible. Of course, you’ll have some fat to skim. — This is just a guess on my part, based on my slow-cooker experience. If anyone else has any advice on this, please chime in.

  11. Personally I’m afraid to look “the know it all in the eyes” – it’s a very scary sight. As for the Cadillacs, Buicks, & Lincolns – you forgot the Oldsmobile. You can imagine my daughter’s delight when she inherited Aunt Josephine’s 1986 Oldsmobile when she got her driver’s license (very appropriate since the Olds & Niki were born in the same year). I can tell you they’re tanks which protects elderly bones as they go meandering out of the church parking lot after Saturday mass & new teen drivers who aim for guardrails.
    That stew just gave me a craving & although I don’t have any ribs, I may just swipe the dog’s steak & get one going this afternoon. I’ve got some bacon & you win bonus points for adding that to the stew.

  12. That stew looks fantastic!! You may get the squeaky wheel at the store, but it never fails- I get the cart that is determined to always turn left. It is joyous wrestling those through the store.

  13. Looks amazing, Adam! I guaruntee if I show this to Mrs. G I’ll be making this before weeks end.

    You left out the old lady’s who still write checks at the store…and don’t start writing it until everything has been rung up. Grrr!

    I could name some others, but they wouldn’t be polite, so I’ll refrain.

  14. A whiff of this brisket first thing in the morning is the best wake up call one can wish for. Great reicpe, thank you for sharing, Adam! You have one more feature in the RecipeNewZ hall of fame:
    (now also on Google+

  15. oh! I live next to one of those preachy know-it-alls and after an exhausting run of trying to defend my actions I have lately resorted to the same strategy of agreeing until the lecture stops. Your description is so dead-on! Sadly, my strategy didn´t include such a delicious mental distraction. It´s a major improvement & I plan on adding it next time ;)

    • I’m fortunate that we have no preachy know-it-alls within waving distance of our home. Such has not always been the case, which is why I’m urging you to take entirely different advice in this situation. Instead of nodding your head in (supposed) agreement, let your lawn overgrow and start hosting loud parties. If that doesn’t work, paint your house purple. That ticks the neighbors off every time and, unless you live in an association community, there is no law against it.

      • Here in Brazil the houses already are purple (and pink and green and orange and yellow) and loud parties are expected by definition otherwise it wouldn´t be a party! Oh, and next to no lawns to speak of… LOL! I think I´ll have to come up with another way to be obnoxious. Make homemade fish sauce perhaps?

  16. Mmmm, what I would do for some decent beef! I live in Asia, land of pork and duck! My Rocky Mountain born daughter said the other day as we drove through rice fields and passed emaciated cows: “I spy with my little eye GOATS!” She didn’t believe me when I tried to correct her.

  17. Gorgeous! Cutting my computer screen open with knife and fork.

  18. You’re hilarious!

  19. I avoid going to bank branches at all costs because the same guy must have a cousin where I live (no drive thru in Australia). Can’t wait to try the beef rib stew – even if it’s summer here!

  20. Looks great — sounds like boeuf bourguignon to me :-)

  21. Hi! This looks delicious! I want to make it for a casual NYE dinner. If I make early in the day can I refrigerate and simply reheat on low heat in the evening, adding the peas for the last 10 minutes? Thanks so much!

    Happy New Year!

    • Hi, Stephanie. You can certainly make it early (or a day or two before) and reheat later. Some people (myself included) believe it tastes even better that way. Adding the peas during the final part of cooking is fine. Thank you for stopping by and Happy 2013!


  1. [...] MMMM I love stew! This would be a yummy, different way of making it! Beef Short Rib Stew [...]

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