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The holidays, for me, mean comfort food. One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of comfort is “to ease the grief and trouble of.” As happy as the holidays are, it can also be a difficult season. Whether it’s grief over a loved one or friend that is no longer here or feeling troubled over time or finances, I find that food cooked with love can go a long way toward easing the hurt.
It’s been ten years since Mike’s mother, Dee Dee passed away. It was quick and it was too soon – she was only 48. She never knew our children, and while I miss her to this day, it’s that fact that my children will never know her that really hurts.
She was a teeny thing, just over 5 feet tall. She loved her coffee, her books, and her friends – so you can imagine we got along just fine. So many people cringed when I told them I was marrying an only child, the only son. But if Dee Dee had any reservations about letting go, she hid them well. She welcomed me with open arms. She was no fool: she saw a future of somebody else washing the same macaroni and cheese pan day in and day out and rolled out the red carpet for me.
Around this time of year I always pull out a creased and splattered recipe card for Beef Tips & Noodles. It was Dee Dee’s recipe. I’m not sure where it originated, but it was a dish Mike grew up with and one she made often when we visited in the winter months. To walk into the door of her home and smell it cooking was to feel some of the weight of the world slip off your shoulders. You knew that soon you were going to eat something delicious, cooked by someone who cared. Sometimes that’s all you need to get over the next hurdle. We miss her every day, but especially around the holidays. And while nothing will bring her back to us physically, we can drink from her Santa mugs, look at pictures and tell her stories, and we can recreate her meal and cook it with love.
What else could be more comforting?
Beef Tips & Noodles
This is a great meal for a dreary fall or cold winter day when you need something delicious but very hands-off. Once the ingredients are prepped you basically leave it to its own devices for a couple of hours. We serve it over egg noodles, but it’s also delicious with polenta. This recipe is at least 20 years old, so it involves Crisco. Don’t be scared. Embrace the unhealthiness and nostalgia – it’s what the holidays are for, right?
2 pounds beef stew meat
1 onion, sliced thin
1/4 cup Crisco
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 cups water, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Sprinkle meat with garlic salt. Brown meat with onions in Crisco. Once meat is browned, add remaining ingredients (except the cornstarch). Simmer, covered, until meat is tender (approximately 2 1/2 hours). If sauce needs thickening, mix cornstarch with 1 teaspoon cold water to form a slurry. Stir into simmering sauce until thickened.
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