Ingredients for accidental "you were supposed to be pot roast" stew Credit: Deanna Isaacs

At 5 PM Saturday, March 21, Governor J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 Executive Order No. 8, aka the Stay at Home order, took effect. Here’s a daily-ish journal of how Reader staff, our friends, family—and our pets—are spending our time.

Day 45: May 4

What we’re reading:

What we’re listening to:

  • Dead soprano Montserrat Caballe onWFMT on Demand, “Arias and Songs with Larry Johnson,” April 25.

What we’re watching:

What we’re cooking:

  • Accidental stew (A perfectly OK meal, even if it was supposed to be pot roast.)

It’s easy! Here’s all you need to serve 6 to 8 trapped people:

  • 3+ pound chuck roast and sharp knife: So, grocery store’s off-limits because of coronavirus? Delivery brings one great hunk of meat? No problem: just cut the cow into something more manageable, say, 2-inch squares, being very careful not to butcher yourself. (If frozen, best to thaw first.) Then wash hands for 20 seconds and pretend that never happened.
  • Potatoes: Peel and slice one small-to-medium spud for each serving. (So boring, can be done while watching coronavirus updates on television.)
  • Celery, onion, and carrots, as much as you like, all sliced, and some garlic, chopped
  • A couple tablespoons of flour, and an eighth or more of a pound of butter (or, cooking oil, but really it’s not the same, so don’t blame me).
  • One big, deep frying pan with a tight cover. Lots of garlic salt.
  • Beef bouillon? Sounds like a good idea, but I didn’t have any, so not sure.

Now, just five simple steps:

  1. On the stove top, melt half of the butter in a pan, then drop cow chunks in and lightly brown on all sides.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and ½ to ¾ cup water. Turn heat down to simmer, cover, and go watch a movie or do something else for at least two hours. (Are you a worrier? Then OK to take a peek halfway through to see if water’s gone and your kitchen’s about to burn up. If yes, add more water.) 
  3. Add potatoes, vegetables, and garlic salt. Simmer, covered, for another 45 minutes or so, until it smells delicious and potatoes are softish when forked.
  4. Melt remaining butter (microwave is good for this; get more butter if necessary), and mix with flour in a tiny bowl until blended, then add to pan and stir like crazy until all that watery liquid congeals into something that’ll pass for gravy. Voila! You’re done!
  5. Serve right from the stove. If edible, whew!
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