Friday, January 22, 2010

BEWARE THE BEARS -- A DELICIOUS IRISH LAMB STEW

Growing up in the city of Philadelphia and the suburb of Levittown, PA, my experience with bears was limited to a few zoos, where I was safely out of their reach.  Even my years in rural Long Valley, New Jersey didn't bring me into contact with bears.  Suddenly, bears are everywhere in New Bern.  No matter where I go, I see bears -- so many that I've lost count.

"Barrister Bear" looks pretty tame.  He's even dressed in a suit.
                                

 "Tabearna" actually looks like a stuffed shirt, no worries there.


I think "Neuseopoly" is just out for a good time, so I'm not expecting trouble from this guy.


"Bearer of Rights" seems kind of serious.  I don't think I'll mess with him.


"Freedom Bearer" might get aggressive.  I'm definitely not getting near him.


There are tons more bears all around New Bern.  This is getting a bit worrisome.  What if they get hungry and decide to go on the prowl for food?  They're omnivores, like we humans, so they eat pretty much what we eat.  Maybe I should set out some of the Irish lamb stew I made for dinner tonight.  After all, it is Southern, and these must be Southern bears if they live in New Bern. 



Would you like to put out some stew for the bears?   I think they'll like it, because we certainly did.  The meat is fall-apart tender with the most amazing flavor.  And don't worry about the bacon.  If you don't tell anyone, they won't even know it's there.  It just makes the stew taste better. I know you're worried about the cost, but don't be.  Lamb shoulder is an economical cut.  Long, slow cooking makes it tender, delicious and  fit for a king -- or a bear.




Irish Lamb Stew
Adapted from allrecipes.com
Bear Rating:  10 out of 10

1/2 pound bacon, diced
2-1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose, if preferred)
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup drinking-quality dry white wine
1-1/2 cups beef stock
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 Yukon Gold potatoes,scrubbed, quartered

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside.  Put lamb, salt, pepper, and flour in resealable gallon-size storage bag. Toss to coat meat evenly. Brown meat in frying pan with bacon fat. (Do this in two batches to ensure the meat browns well.)

Place meat into slow cooker.  Saute onion over medium heat in any remaining bacon fat till onion is golden. Add garlic and cook another minute. Raise heat to high; stir in wine and let boil for a few minutes; add beef broth and let it boil briefly.  Transfer garlic-onion mixture with broth to the crock pot with bacon pieces, thyme, bay leaf, and potatoes. Cover and cook on high for about 4-1/2 hours, or low for about 8 hours, or till meat is very tender. Add frozen peas about 1/2  hour before serving and cook on high.  Yield:  4 - 5 servings.




P. S.  If you want to know more about the many bears that are proliferating in New Bern, check out the Bear Town Bears website







Friday, January 15, 2010

NEW BERN NOW BLOG CONTEST WIN

Blogging has been my hobby since I retired, almost three years ago. It's been a thoroughly enjoyable hobby, with only one lament: the blogosphere can be a lonely place. I'm happy that I've made new friends that also blog, but none have been from New Bern. Until now. Until I found Wendy. Or she found me.

Wendy Card is an American Red Cross volunteer. She's retired, like me, but owns a post-retirement consulting business (Time for Virtual Assisting) that keeps her busy. She also has a New Bern blog, entitled New Bern Now. The purpose of the blog is to keep New Bernians informed of happenings and to bring people together. She ran a contest recently offering a $100 prize. All anyone had to do was leave a comment on any post. Today, I was notified that I was the winner, and this gave me the opportunity to meet Wendy in person for the first time. We met at the Red Cross office, where she gave me my prize of $100 and we had a short chat that was interrupted by callers who wanted to help Haitian earthquake victims.

My birthday is exactly two weeks from today, so I think I will take my hubby out to dinner to celebrate. Thank you, Wendy. Please check out Wendy's blog to learn more about New Bern and about local relief efforts for Haitian earthquake victims.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

NEW BERN’S PRIZE: TRYON PALACE – SHALL WE HAVE TEA AND SCONES?

I still remember that day in 1992 when hubby and I drove down Pollock Street for the first time. He had been telling me for several years that he wanted to move to North Carolina, and I would always change the subject. I liked where we were, in the Kittatinny Mountains of Northwest New Jersey in a beautifully restored circa 1740 home, on a private 1-1/2-acre lot. Our town, Long Valley was an up-and-coming town that was known for it’s restricted zoning, good schools and complete lack of industrial/commercial development. The neighboring town, Chester, had a quaint downtown area with antique shops and a major grocery store; and we frequented it often. Suddenly and seemingly out of the blue after a long silence about the subject of moving, hubby declared that he was leaving the next morning to search the North Carolina Coast for a building lot….with or without me. He could only be ignored for so long.

We drove to Wilmington the next day and began our search after a night’s rest. We were half-way up the coast, frustrated at not finding anything that would meet our criteria (he wanted acreage, I wanted city water, city sewer and neighbors), when we saw a billboard on Route 17 directing us to a Weyerhauser development, Greenbrier. It was about 4:30 pm, and we were both weary. Hubby stayed in the car while I ran into the sales office to pick up brochures. Fifteen minutes later, hubby came in to find out why I hadn’t returned. We bought a building lot that day, and upon the sales rep’s urging, our car was soon headed downtown. As our car crawled through Pollock Street and I saw ahead of me one restored antique building after another, all I could think of was home.

And then I saw her -- New Bern’s prize -- Tryon Palace. Amidst all the lovely but less grand structures it stood, behind its gates, like the queen on her throne surrounded by her court.


I found myself daydreaming about times past, when ladies wore beautiful formal gowns with poufy hairpieces and had afternoon tea with biscuits or scones. I imagined myself taking little bites of freshly baked pastries and daintily sipping hot, properly brewed English tea.

So I thought you, too, might like a tea break with a scone. The following recipe is for a very light, flaky and moist scone with wonderful flavor. I’m sure Governor Tryon’s wife would approve. By the way, if you would like more information about Tryon Palace, including tour information, go to the Tryon Palace website.
Lemony Scones with Dried Fruit
CLICK FOR PRINTABLE RECIPE
Adapted from Better Homes & Gardens Prize Tested Recipes $200 Winner, Carolyn Eichin
Bear Rating: 10 out of 10

INGREDIENTS: 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, divided use
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup frozen butter, cut into small cubes
4 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup dried fruit, chopped (I used sweetened tart cherries)
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a large baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper. In work bowl of food processor, combine flour, 1-1/2 tsp. lemon zest, baking powder and baking soda. Pulse twice to mix. Add butter and use quick, short pulse motions to incorporate. The flour should resemble coarse crumbs when butter is properly integrated. Whisk together yogurt, egg and sugar in a small bowl and add to work bowl. Pulse several times till dough begins to form. Fold in cherries. Drop dough onto baking sheet, spacing several inches apart. Bake 18-20 minutes, or till golden and toothpick inserted in center returns almost with just a few crumbs. Cool slightly on wire rack.

For glaze, stir together confectioner’s sugar and 1/2 tsp. lemon zest. Add enough lemon juice to make drizzling consistency. Drizzle over scones. If desired, sprinkle with sliced almonds. Yield: 16-18 scones

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

THE 300TH YEAR

It has happened.  We have officially entered New Bern’s 300th year.  The City kicked it off with a First Night that was hugely successful and will be celebrating all year long.

This blog will be a part of that celebration.  I’ll be touting New Bern’s attributes with future posts, enticing you to participate in the many planned activities.  I’ll also be sharing tidbits of New Bern’s rich history with you.  And, since I’m a confirmed food-aholic, you can count on recipes.  But, unlike my other blog, Judy's Kitchen, most of the recipes you’ll find here will have a Southern slant, and some will be recipes of local families. 


New Bern has been dubbed “The Southern Surprise,” and I hope that this blog will also be a pleasant surprise to my readers.  Forgive me for starting with a blog that is still under construction.  I’ll be working on it as I go.  And please, spread the word that there’s a new kid on the block.