Cooking Dinner and Looking After Baby (Curried Beef Stew)

One of the things that I found toughest when Beckett first came along and I was home alone with him was to get the ordinary household stuff done while he was awake. It didn't really matter if he was in his high chair, his rocker, his crib or his travel cot. The slightest little noise and I'd be running to his side. For most jobs this wasn't a huge problem - stopping and coming back to whatever I was doing didn't cause any problems. The thing is, when you're in the middle of cooking dinner and leave it alone, disaster can ensue.

Things have changed a bit these days and my tolerance for baby noises has greatly increased. I also know our baby and have gotten to know what his noises mean. In the case of Beckett you also need to know that he's a total chatterbox so there's always noise! Between there and now, however, I came up with a few ways of preventing baby noises from ruining dinner. The easiest of which was to cook one pot meals. This way once the food is cooking you can walk away without worry.

One of my favourite things to cook is Beef Stew. It's super tasty, really easy and if you make enough you'll have lunch or dinner for the next day too. In our house we like a bit of a kick to our food and we're big fans of a good curry. BAsically this lead to me combining the two and creating a Curried Beef Stew. Spicy and delicious, it's particularly good in Winter but equally delicious at any time of the year. I hope you enjoy!

Curried Beef Stew

Curry Paste
2 fresh chiles, stemmed, seeded and diced
1/2tsp salt
1 lemongrass stalk, bottom 4' only, tough outer layer removed, cut into 1' pieces
2tbsp ginger, peeled and diced
2tbsp turmeric
1/2cup chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves, diced

2lbs round beef, cut into 1 1/2' cubes
3tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp dried chiles
9cups beef broth
1cup halved shallots
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
6 kaffir lime leaves
Chopped fresh coriander

Curry Paste
In a pestle and mortar, grind the chiles and salt. Add ingredients one by one in order listed, fully grinding each before adding the next. This can be done up to a week ahead - just put it in an airtight container and keep refrigerated.

Combine the curry paste, beef, soy sauce, and dried chiles in a pot; stir to evenly coat beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the beef is browned. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beef is tender but not falling apart, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Stir in shallots, carrots, and lime leaves. Simmer until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. If broth is too salty, add water a few tablespoonfuls at a time.
Garnish with the coriander and basil and serve with some crusty bread or rice.

If your baby is anything like Beckett then you'll want them to try whatever you're eating. This recipe isn't quite right for a baby but there's not much that you'd need to do to make it ok. Remove the chiles and dried chiles (or reduce them significantly) and remove the salt. Then add a little natural yogurt and this would be fine.
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