Spring is the season of new beginnings, and the time to get back to basics. Spring lamb stew is a dish that has been around for centuries.
Spring lamb stew is a hearty meal with lots of vegetables, herbs and spices in a richly flavored broth. It’s perfect for warming up on chilly days or as a light lunch or dinner when you’re trying to watch your figure.
Last weekend I turned 26. Last twenties, now? Very strange. Not that anything changed at all. I spent the weekend in San Simeon at Hearst Castle. My Dad is still off work, so it was another weekend adventure for us. We left Benicia around 8 am on Saturday, and I drove the more than 4-hour trip down there.
We had tours booked for the afternoon, so we could take the leisurely route and drive down the gorgeous Highway 1. The GPS arrival time kept creeping farther and farther back as the curvy slow road seemed never-ending. I kept noticing my Dad peering over at the clock. We were cutting it close. What was supposed to be an extra hour of free time before we had to get to the castle became us rushing to get there.
We made it with a few minutes to spare. With two different hour-long tours and wandering the grounds, we barely saw part of the castle. Room after room, all elaborately decorated with the most extensive art collection I’ve ever seen.
The place is really what it says it is, a castle. With gorgeous imported ceilings. Ceilings. Who buys an antique ceiling and builds it into their mansion? William Randolph Hearst did. It definitely works a visit.
I mainly used my old film camera on the trip, so here are a few digital snapshots, but the reset will have to wait for my ever-growing pile of used film to develop.
There were many articles of clothing spread out amongst the ‘house.’ Party dresses for the women laid out on the beds, robes still hanging in closets, and men’s suits laid out in their quarters. The women’s shoes were so small! Beautiful, but they looked like child’s shoes compared to mine.
Being size 10 at only 5 feet and barely 5 inches tall, I know I’m not exactly proportionate. Yet, I envy those tiny little shoes that look so delicate and feminine.
The view from the castle was amazing. All around you, all you saw was either hill covered in trees or sprawling views of the ocean. The first day we got there, it was a chilly but clear day. You could see everything in sight.
The view made you wish you could stay up in the castle for more than a few hours. The next day we went back to see the movie that was included in our tour and possibly tours a few more areas of the castle that we had not seen. But the rain had started. It was not a great storm but you could definitely get soaked if you were outside for a few minutes.
So we decided to do the movie first and probably not another tour but just play it by ear. So we sat down in the theater, the lights dimmed, and the movie began to play. And then, about 90 seconds later, the screen went dark, and the lights came on.
Everyone looked around, thoroughly confused, thinking someone had accidentally hit the wrong button. Then the old man who had let us into the theater informed us all that due to the extreme weather, their power had gone out and tried to come to see the movie in a few hours.
We weren’t going to wait around to possibly see it in a few hours. So we bought a copy of the DVD they were selling in the lobby and got in the car, and headed for home. After a lunch stop in Carmel then, we made it back to Benicia a few hours later. I grabbed up little Christmas, who got to play with my Mom and Sister, then headed back on the road to St. Helena.
Spring lamb stew. Probably a month back, my friend Raoul drove down from Sacramento to hang out for the weekend and to help me make and shoot this recipe. Don’t worry; I haven’t abandoned my vegetarianism; it was meant for a magazine.
But then the story got cut, so now it is all just for the internet to see. I have to admit, this stew smelled awful. And I threw it out and opened all my windows right after the photos were done. Now that’s not saying it doesn’t taste good; if you like a lamb, it probably tastes great.
But I do not and couldn’t find anyone I know who does, so into the bin it went. Wasteful, yes, but the smell was making me sick. Many thanks to Raoul for handling all the meat for these photos.
Spring Lamb Stew
- 2 lbs lamb, cut into 6 pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed to paste
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 4 carrots, cut into chunks
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 3 1/2 oz green beans, chopped
- salt and pepper
Brown the meat, garlic, and onion with olive oil in a large Dutch Oven. Add the bay leaf, thyme, carrots, and enough water to cover the meat by at least an inch. Bring to a simmer and remove any foam that rises to the top. Once all the foam is removed, cover the pan and transfer it to the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
Ten minutes before serving, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the peas and beans. Cook for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, then drain.
Take the casserole out of the oven and remove the bay leaf and thyme. Add the peas and beans to the lamb, season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.
Recipe by Rachel Khoo