/ / TRUST THE TRACTOR: LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE #SLOWLIVING

TRUST THE TRACTOR: LIFE IN THE SLOW LANE #SLOWLIVING

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The idea behind Slow Living, which has its origins in Italy, began to take shape in 1986 as a reaction to fast food.

Favouring a different approach to modern life – Slow Living promotes the ethos that instead of rush, rush, rushing, we need to take time to appreciate the life that we live – to consider what the soundtrack to our slow life would be, or how as a family people could spend a slow Sunday as opposed to a convenient and fast paced one for example.

It’s not about being slow per se – more valuing quality time whilst we’re living our lives together; reaping long term benefits as opposed to shortcuts – such as in quality farming. We all would much rather eat the eggs of a free range, happily grazing chicken – even though they may not produce as many as their caged cousins – and I would rather buy meat that has been raised and slaughtered with care and respect for the animal.  I don’t eat meat a lot – but I care very much about the meat I do eat.  We Trust the Tractor on our meat as a sign that the produce we are buying and consuming has good, quality farming values at its roots.  Slow raising, slow growing, more healthy and natural products.

There are so many aspects of Slow Living that resounded with our family – but Slow Exercise [combining working out with time in nature] and Slow Hobbies [feeding your soul and the planet at the same time], combined with Slow Education [learning new skills that help you to be more connected to your daily life] fit brilliantly with the way we like our weekends to be.

Reflecting on whether we as a family are fast or slow paced, I realised that there was an important part of our life together missing – one that was ever present in my life as a child, and which always bought us together each week. The Sunday roast – or when we visited my Granny, her beef stew.

We have roast chicken quite often – but the idea of a slow cooked, soul-nourishing beef dish was too tempting not to indulge in, and so I pulled out our Crockpot, [which I bought primarily to recreate pulled pork after our wedding in Disney World].

Homegrown vegetables aren’t plentiful in our garden until the Summer months, and so we took a stroll around the local farmers’ market – where the vegetables are cheaper than supermarket, and often more beautiful.

Yes, we could have popped into the local supermarket and bought chopped carrots and ready made dumplings – but there’s something so comforting, warm and homely about working together as a family to create a meal that everyone can enjoy.

It took me about fifteen minutes to prepare, and then we headed out to find some natural props for my photography course – without worrying that dinner was burning.

You know, even Batman has to take life slowly sometimes…

If you want to recreate Granny Griffin’s stew, here’s the recipe…



The brilliantly slow part about slow cooking is that other from a few checks to make sure everything is okay, once it’s on, you’re free to enjoy family time without being tied to the kitchen all afternoon.

 

Ingredients


1 kg braising steak, cut into smallish chunks
7 shallots, 2 parsnips,  2 carrots, pieces, 1 leek, roughly chopped around 1 inch pieces
3 tbsp tomato purée
Plain flour, to coat
2 tbsp vegetable oil
200 ml red wine
600 ml beef stock
3 fresh rosemary stems
 
You can add dumplings if you want – my Granny made amazing dumplings.


Method
 
Dry the beef cubes [I use kitchen towel] and sprinkle plain flour over. 
 
Toss around in the flour until coated and shake the excess off.  
 
Place everything together in the Crockpot, give it a few stirs – the boys love taking fighting over turns this part.
 
Place the lid on and turn to high, setting your timer for about 5 hours – but if the beef looks ready before then when you check [I’m a checker] or isn’t quite done, use your own judgement.
 
Then it’s sticky dumpling time!  When the timer goes off at 5hours, sieve the flour into the bowl, adding the parsley, suet and seasonings.
 
Then add 100ml of cold water and stir until it becomes a soft, sticky dough.  Use a metal spoon.
Open the Crockpot and throw the rosemary away – or it will be stuck in your dumplings! 
 
Roll the dough into small, bouncy ball sized bits – about the size when you put your thumb and forefinger together – and pop them randomly, but not touching, on top of the stew. 
 
Let everything cook for around another hour, then serve.
 
We usually have mashed potatoes because they’re so comforting when it’s soggy outside [and my boys don’t enjoy roast potatoes] and broccoli.  I also serve roasted garlic bulbs and butternut squash as there’s something so wholesome about root vegetables.

 

What’s your idea of a good, slow meal?  It doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive – just wholesome and filling – and that’s home comfort, comfort food.

#Liveslow. What could your Slow Life look like?

This is a campaign for Red Tractor beef and Lamb (look out for a quality mark like the Red Tractor logo which guarantees the meat you are buying is farm assured)

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