No Maine winter is complete without making beef stew on at least one occasion. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Believe it or not, I’ve been writing Cooking at the Cove for over two years already and I enjoy it even more than when I published my very first column. I have my “fan club” to thank for the warm, cozy feelings I experience when I’m in my kitchen creating new recipes I hope you’ll enjoy. I also love sharing old favorites I’ve made for my family over the years, as well as the recipes my mom made back when I was a youngster.

I remember our kitchen, where I taught myself to write in cursive by laboriously copying my mother’s recipe cards while she and my grandmother cooked and gossiped.

Those were the days when I contented myself with making cookies, popcorn, salad and pancakes, setting the table and drying the dishes. Then, when I was 9 years old, I received Betty Crocker’s new “Good and Easy Cookbook.”

Years later, as a young Navy wife and mom, this is the cookbook that traveled with me to Japan, as well as to four different states. The “Good Brown Stew” recipe on page 68 was made to a “T” dozens of times before I began to tweak it to make it my own. It was this revised recipe that I sent in, along with instructions for Grandma’s Butter Dips, to editor Raye Leonard in 2018 when I heard she was searching for a new food columnist.

You know the rest …

A few weeks ago, I made beef stew (tweaked yet again) and posted a photo on Facebook. Quite a few folks asked for the recipe so here is the newest version, along with the Butter Dips and a favorite cookie of mine from childhood. Mom made these often for our lunch boxes. I was notorious for stealing them from the big Sears freezer and hiding them in my pockets when no one was looking. They were also the first cookies I made all by myself, with the chocolate chips, of course, but they are yummy either way.

Thank you for your support and encouragement, dear readers. And yes, I still use my “Good and Easy Cookbook,” although many of the recipes are now prepared “by heart.”

Karen’s Beef Stew

1/4 pound bacon, diced
2 pounds stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (if needed)
6 tablespoons flour, divided
4 cups beef stock or hot water (1 cup red wine can be substituted for a cup of liquid)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, sliced
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4-6 carrots and parsnips, cut in 2-inch chunks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté bacon in Dutch oven or other large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Set aside. Dredge meat in 4 tablespoons flour and brown in bacon fat in two batches, adding olive oil if needed. Add onions and garlic, cooking until softened and beginning to brown. Add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes more. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons flour, herbs and seasonings. Stir in bay leaves, bacon, broth/water/wine, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce.

Cover and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and cook for 30-60 minutes more, until meat and vegetables are tender and gravy is glossy and thickened. Yield: 4-6 servings

Butter Dips

1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Melt butter in 8-inch square glass pan in oven then remove when butter is melted.

Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add milk then stir with a fork until dough is formed. Turn onto well-floured board and knead lightly. Roll 1/2-inch thick into an 8-inch square. Cut dough in half and then crosswise to make 12 “sticks.”

Dip both sides of each stick in melted butter in baking pan and place close together in two rows in pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Yield: 12 dips.

Chocolate Drops

3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips, optional

Stir vinegar into milk and allow to set for at least 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and eggs with an electric mixer. Beat in sour milk and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and chips in a separate bowl and stir into butter mixture. Chill dough at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. Yield: 3 1/2 dozen (2 1/2-inch) cookies

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