07 February 2014

stew and a castle

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 of work so it was another weekend adventure for us. We left Benicia around 8am 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 that I've ever seen. The place is really what it say 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 is definitely work 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 get developed. 

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. 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 hills covered in tree or sprawling views of the ocean. The first day we got their 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 just a few hours. The next day we went back to see the movie that was included in our tour and possible tour 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, throughly confused, thinking someone had accidentally hit a 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 try to come 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. With 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 head 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 thats not saying it doesn't taste good, if you like lamb it probably tastes great. But I do no 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 
by Rachel Khoo

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

Oven 325F. 
Brown the meat, garlic and onion with the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven. Add the bay leaf, thyme and 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 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. 


Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody) said...

Happy birthday! Such beautiful photos, the castle looks amazing!

Laura Dembowski said...

That visit to the castle sounds like fun, it's too bad the rain ruined some of it. I can totally relate about the stew smelling bad. It seems to me that when we don't like or eat a food, we develop a bit of an aversion to it.

shobelyn said...

What a beautiful photos you got here. Looks very nostalgic and the words you used to weave the sentences made me feel I was with you on the trip. It is nice that you got to spend time with your dad and you are 26, seize the days girl and conquer the world!

Unknown said...

Gorgeous photos! Happy 26th!