Monday, October 15, 2012

Kielbasa Sausage, Shrimp and White Bean Stew

I don’t know where the weekends go, but they seem to disappear before my eyes, before I have a chance to get everything done that I want (and need) to do, before heading back to work on Monday.

At the top of my list of things that must be done very soon, is to finish pricing baked goods for sale, and learn how to use my PayPal account.  Have you ever tried to sit and determine the cost of ingredients on 200-something recipes so that you can figure out what to charge to make some kind of profit that makes it all worth the time and effort, not to mention the multiple trips to the store with a clipboard and spreadsheet to make note of my cost on those ingredients?  And of course, all of this is on top of a full-time day job.

This is what I’m talking about:  If 5 pounds of all-purpose flour costs $1.99, how much does one cup cost?  If 8 ounces of good-quality vanilla costs $12.00, how much is a teaspoon?  What if I use a vanilla bean instead of extract, how much more should I charge? How many cups of powdered sugar is in one 2-pound bag? (Thank goodness I did well in math class in high school…)  Is it cheaper, in the long-run, to make my own lemon curd or buy a jar, even though I like the taste of homemade so much better?  (Answer: it is cheaper, technically, to make it myself, but time has to be factored in as well, not just cost of ingredients.)  Should I start buying in bulk, even if it means hauling enormous bags of flour, sugar, chocolate and butter up three flights of stairs, not to mention, having no place to store bulk items except lined up against the wall, turning our dining room into a baking factory?  When should I invest in more sizes of baking pans, cake boards and boxes, and should I buy them online to save money?  When will all of this be profitable, so that I can afford more than just the next set of baking pans that I need for another order?  Will people understand why I can’t make and sell a cake as cheaply as their local grocery store can, but that they’ll be getting much better quality from me?

It’s mind-boggling.  It’s mentally exhausting.  It’s the last thing I want to do at the end of the day, especially on the weekends, and my only motivation is the hope that all of this is a success.  Excel, a calculator, and online weight/volume conversion tools are my friends these days, but they don’t have all the answers I need.  But I’m getting more cake orders, and expect more non-cake orders for the holidays, so it’s something I simply have to get done.  I’d rather be baking pies, though, instead of sitting in front of a computer, computing my evenings away.  I should look into software to help me with all of this.

When I’m as busy as I have been lately, I don’t want to spend a lot of time fussing with making dinner (or cleaning up afterwards).  I need something that will practically cook itself while I can walk away and get other things done.

One such weeknight I made this stew for dinner, and it was ready in under an hour, with just a little vegetable prep before hand, and then everything into the pot to simmer into a flavorful, slightly spicy soup.  Which gave me enough time to edit a few photos and work on pricing a few more recipes – all while I was really longing for a nap on the couch with Jamie running his fingers through my hair…

Kielbasa Sausage, Shrimp and White Bean Stew
printable recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 4 on-the-vine tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Greek seasoning (a combination of chili flakes, garlic, lemon peel, dill, oregano, cinnamon, mace, spearmint and chervil)
  • 1 cup fish stock (I have homemade fish stock in my freezer, but you can substitute store-bought Clam Juice or just chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) white beans, including the juice (I prefer Great Northern Beans)
  • 3/4 pound Kielbasa sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery and poblano pepper, with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute until the vegetables are softened, 7-8 minutes, adding the tomatoes about halfway through.  Add the garlic and the butter; when the butter has melted, sprinkle the flour and the Greek seasoning into the pan, stirring to create a roue, which will thicken the stew.  Slowly add the fish stock, stirring to incorporate with the roue.  Add the water, beans and sausage.

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium low heat for 20 minutes to develop the flavor; taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Uncover, and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the stew, or add more water if it's too thick.  Stir in the shrimp, and cook until the shrimp is cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

Yields about 6 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen