Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Liberating Beef Tagine

Sometimes it pays to take a few liberties in life. On Sunday for instance, we are getting ready for church when Caleb hollers the frantic, 'We gotta go.' Neither of us, the hollerer or the hollered-at, exactly jump into action. Instead, we change hats (Caleb) purses (me) and shoes (me again) before wandering out to the car. On our property you really can wander out to the car. It lives under a tent down the driveway, to the right and across the grassy bit, which is neither a lawn nor a field but something in between.

By now Caleb has settled on a light brown fedora. He's also wearing his car coat, which is incredibly thick, built for a real Canadian winter, actually. Of course our experience of winter is second cousin twice removed to a real Canadian winter. But the car coat is important, nonetheless, because we drive a gold 76 Beetle and its drafty.

I've settled on boots, which also proves a good choice as the lawn/field is mucky. Anyhow, for two people with fifteen minutes to ten, church's projected start time, we are certainly taking some liberties with time.

Caleb points out a tall tree filled with birds and we watch and I think about how birds can fly and have no projected start times, and all those cliches about freedom. We stand there for a good five minutes, which is a long time for two people who now have ten minutes until church's projected start time. Caleb admitted later that he was just waiting to see how long I'd stand there. Five minutes, as it turns out, I'd take about a five minute liberty. And when we finally makje it to church, it turns out about half the congregates isn't too worried about time either and we start at quarter past ten as per usual.

Time doesn't mind the taking of a few liberties. Really, whoever wants to be the first one to arrive at the coffee shop? Especially at the coffee shop! You can't very well just order a coffee while you wait. Unless of course, you're amicable to ordering a second round once your date arrives. But lattes are running pretty steep these days and with the extra caffine jolt I might start racing sprints up and down the barista bar.

I found myself exactly in this situation a few weeks ago. And what did I do? Wrapped my coat into a ball, nervous reflex, I suppose, and jammed myself beside the little station that holds coffee and cream. The shop was tiny and legitimate customers with coffee in their hands had to push past me to get at the sugar. I just stayed standing, coat balled, rigid as a board, sweating by now, waiting for my date and wishing I'd taken a few liberties with time. 

Liberties with time are one thing. Liberties with a woman are quite another. I bring it up because it begs to be. You can't say the words 'taking liberties' without some part of your brain whispering, 'with a woman.' It's a pretty basic fill-in-the blank. But I wouldn't know much about that, never having tried my luck.

I've taken a few liberties with a man, though. Like a bite of whatever he's eating. Usual it's peanut butter on toast. 'Bite?' I say and reach for it. This is a pretty huge liberty. Especially when you live with a peanut butter aficionado. But I've bitten brownies, burritos, sausage rolls and cinnamon buns, too. I've sipped beers, taken over whole ends of drinks, made him go back to the kitchen and fix a second because I've changed my mind. These were all pretty serious liberties to take.

But I don't regret any of them. I've come to believe, actually, that men like you to take a few liberties. A quick squeeze, a little grab, is never wholly unwanted, even if it does leave them feeling a little exposed.

On a cooking note, if you've been following the blog you'll note that there's been quite a buzz around slow cookers or crock pots as they were once called before a massive rebranding. Well I found my crock tucked in a  thriftstore with a six dollar tag and I thought I might as well give it a whirl.

I've taken a recipe that I LOVE for lamb tagine and taken a few liberties. For one, I switched to beef because I had it, it tastes good, and its cheaper. I've moved the whole thing to the slow cooker and, massive liberty three, I chose not to brown the meat or the onions or anything beforehand. Instead, I just put it all in the slow cooker and turned the dial to low. I reasoned that the Irish, for the most part, don't brown their stew meat, just pop it in, add some veg and liquid and get simmering. I figured that if I'm simmering this beef with nice veggies and spices for nine hours, it's going to have plenty of flavour.

Guess what? I wasn't disappointed.

Beef Tagine with a few Liberties Taken or Added, Depending on How You Look at It

2 small onions chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps cumin
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
2 large potatoes
1 pound beef
1/2 cup chopped apricots

Put all these ingredients in your slow cooker and mix them around with a big spoon or your hands.

In a small bowl combine:
1 14oz can chopped tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 Tbsp honey

Then add this to the slow cooker as well.

Put your slow cooker on low for about 9 to 10 hours.

Ta Da! Dance, show off, what the heck, take a few more liberties while your at it. You're on a roll.


  1. So pumped to find this post, so many comments in my head that they might require a phone call. I'm making this soon. Oh, and congratulations on your appliance purchase, I know that bringing an electric object into your home is not done lightly, I hope it treats you well.

    I love the quick squeeze, a little grab observation. Mike always protests bum squeezes, but I can never resist a pat ;) Right, TMI.

    1. It's true. Every once in a while I come dangerously close to purchasing a stand mixer only to pull back from the brink.

    2. I inherited a standing mixer, almost reluctantly - I always thought there was a lot of hype, but I've never looked back. That kitchenaid is like one of my children now (the one that doesn't whine or throw tantrums)