When people gather to toast my health and roast my character at my eightieth birthday gala, they’ll say many kind things about me. They’ll joke that my years of tertiary study were well spent in my eventual career
mowing lawns as a turf farmer. They’ll laugh at the unfortunate haircut that I sported in Japan after something was lost in the translation at the hairdresser. They may even remember fondly that I was an alright cook at one point. But, they will not make mention of my illustrious sporting career. Simply, because I am not much of a sportswoman. If I were, perhaps this blog would be a Cooker and a Catch. But it’s not, OK? Stop throwing things!
When Mum and Dad vacated our childhood home a few years ago, they returned the trophies that I amassed during my adolescent sporting endeavours. Among the highlights was a lovely silver number that declares me a valued team player of the Under 13 Bulimba Women’s Hockey team (1991). Others declare me The Best of the Rest and one even Runner Up of The Best of the Rest! This pretty much sums up my sporting ventures – I showed up; mostly because Mum diligently drove me to and from training and the big game.
Nevertheless, our achievements – sporting and otherwise – were always celebrated. If we scored the winning goal (in my case unlikely) or if we did well on an exam (more my style), Mum would cook a celebratory dinner and we got to choose the menu. My brothers’ sporting prowess* and my science nerdom, ensured that Mum was often cooking something special. Nine times out of ten it was this – her speciality – beef stroganoff. A meal that’s become the dinner that celebrates homecomings, announcements and lots and lots of birthdays.
*no Ant, that is not an accidental slip of the apostrophe, I’m counting you!
700 gms beef steak (rump/fillet)
125 gms butter
1 medium onion, diced
500 gms button mushrooms, sliced
180mls cup water
2 beef stock cubes
2 tbs tomato paste
300ml tub of sour cream
1 tsp cornflour
salt and pepper to taste
Thinly slice the steak. (JC always pops the steak in the freezer for a few minutes before he cuts it – it makes it easier to slice finely.)
Heat half the butter and a splash of olive oil in a large fry pan. Add a quarter of the sliced steak and brown quickly. Remove the steak, put aside and repeat with the remaining meat. Dad is always fastidious about not making the batches too big – the difference between good and awesome is making sure that you don’t stew the steak.
Add the remaining butter to the pan and sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms until the mushrooms are cooked and have released their liquid. Return the meat to the pan, with the tomato paste, stock cubes and water. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes.
Combine sour cream and cornflour in a bowl. Gradually add to the pan, stirring until the mixture boils and thickens. Simmer for a further five minutes.
Serve with pasta.
Beef Stroganoff be served at my eightieth birthday party. I only hope my teeth go the distance, so I’m not surreptitiously sucking bits of steak. Forty-seven years is a lot of (as yet) unwritten material, I wonder what other bits of hilarity my roasters will bring up. I plan on being a very eccentric old lady so I don’t think they’ll be fishing for laughs.
Speaking of fishing, I hope this sporting victory gets a mention.
what will they laugh about at your eightieth birthday?
want to come to mine? (wear your best teeth!)