Not fancy cooking

Would I like to make a living from writing? I don’t really know! And, at the moment, I don’t really care.

portrait by Lily circa 2012

Trigger warning for vegetarians and vegans.

Today, when we got back from Freo I put together a rich oxtail stew. It is cooking away as I write and the aroma is divine! I like to make big pots of stew and/or soup in winter. It is good to have spare meals in the freezer. I don’t put too much in each container because it is tasty to add fresh veges when reheated, thus giving the stew a boost.

Why I decided to make stew today was because I read an interesting cooking hack on a Facebook chat page “Chat 10 looks 3” whereby cauliflower was added at the beginning of the cooking time to make the gravy rich and creamy. I usually use sweet potato so today I used both. I am not a precise cook and I use measurements like a ‘sprinkle’ or ‘handful’ or ‘some’. I cook on an ancient gas stove top.

This is how I make Oxtail stew: I start with a large, heavy bottomed, stainless steel pot and melt some coconut oil before adding the pieces of oxtail to brown. If the tail sections are very fatty I trim some of the fat. Today, I added roughly chopped cauliflower including the stalk. Add some roughly chopped carrots, pumpkin, peeled chopped sweet potato, onion, and a good lot of smashed up garlic.

Stir and then I add in whatever I’ve forgotten – chopped or grated fresh ginger, lemon juice (or apple cider) and chopped up lemon skin (apparently the acid helps draw out the goodness from the bones). I remember to add lentils. I used black lentils this time but usually I use red lentils.

Moosh it all around with a big strong spoon and then add stock to cover the ingredients. Homemade stock is best, of course, but if there is none available, box stock is ok or even stock cubes. Season to your taste – if you’ve used bought stock it won’t need so much salt. If I remember I sauté whole coriander seeds in the coconut oil at the beginning, before I add the meat. Today I forgot to do that. Sometimes, if there is a sad looking apple in fridge, I’ll slice it up and add to the stew.


Cover and stir occasionally, especially if you’ve added anything with sugar because the mixture will stick to bottom of the pot. I don’t use flour or cornflour as thickener because the sweet potato, cauliflower and lentils do the trick and are not gluggy.

My mother used to make Oxtail stew and it is one of my favourites. I suppose it is comfort food in the cold weather. This is not fancy cooking but we like it in our house!

Not fancy cooking