Wednesday, March 11, 2015

"The Holiday Inn International Cook Book" - Beef Stew from the Holiday Inn in Ames, Iowa

Date I made this recipe:  March 8, 2015

Holiday Inn International Cook Book by Ruth Malone
Published by:  The Holiday Inn Magazine
© 1962; Seventh Edition
Purchased at Etsy
Recipe:  Beef Stew from the Ames, Iowa Holiday Inn "on U.S. 69 & 30 off I-35"- p. 137

Dateline:  Holiday Inn, Kokomo, Indiana, spring 1968

When I was in 4th grade, my parents decided to take what would be the start of an annual spring break family vacation (never mind that I didn't technically get one) and set out from Michigan for Key West, Florida and then from Florida to New Jersey to visit my grandma and then New Jersey to home.  Grandma lived with my dad's sister, Rose, and her family, and this trip was our once-a-year trip to visit that side of the family.  It was the prefect vacation, particularly because it started my love affair with Holiday Inn hotels.

On the first day of our vacation, we drove to Kokomo, Indiana, arriving there at nightfall, beckoned by the glow of the Holiday Inn sign, the one that had an arrow that kept lighting up, pointing to the hotel, as well as a star burst on top (see below).  I was enraptured.

Inside our room – the most capacious thing I'd ever seen – was a directory of other Holiday Inn hotels, free for the taking.  So of course we took that with us and kept taking it in subsequent years, adding other hotel guides along the way, for example, Best Western when we took a trip west.

And so on every day of every trip, including the Florida one, my younger brother and I (mostly me) drove our dad crazy by whining about wanting to stay at a Holiday Inn with a pool (had to have a pool—what a treat!), something I don't think the Kokomo Holiday Inn had.  It mattered not to me that the hotel with a pool was 500 miles away because hey, I was in 4th grade and had no idea that 500 miles was not something covered in a few hours time.  But dad did so there you go:  "No! We are not driving to that Holiday Inn."  "But daaaaaaaaaaaaddddddddd."

Side note:  can you imagine if the Beach Boy's song "Kokomo" would have been released in 1968 instead of 1988?  Talk about driving my dad crazy!  It's such a catchy tune...and so fitting!

Dateline:  Newark Liberty Airport, Newark, New Jersey, Sunday, March 1, 2015 (also known as hubby's birthday)

On Friday, February 27, 2015, Andy and I flew to Newark, NJ in order to attend my dear Aunt Rose's funeral – she who was mentioned above – the next day in Middlesex, NJ where she lived most of her life.  Aunt Rose was 96 years old and outlived my dad (her brother), her parents, her husband and two out of three children. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out, and we were happy to be able to attend.

And it was all good with the trip until it wasn't which is to say until it started to snow.  This happened about noonish on Sunday afternoon, March 1st, when Andy and I were having brunch in NYC with some friends.  By the time we set out in our rental car to return to Newark a few hours later, it was snowing to beat the band.  And long story made short, our 7:30 p.m. flight back to Minneapolis was canceled and rescheduled for the next evening.  This meant we had to find a place to say near the airport that had a courtesy shuttle.  And this proved to be no easy feat.

So we rushed, as did half the people in the airport to the "bat phones," i.e.  courtesy phones at the airport, to try to secure said hotel room and from that point on, hilarity ensued.  I got on one phone and dialed #10 which allegedly connected me with the Marriott Newark. I like Marriott's hotels and the directory information said it was the only hotel on the airport premises so this seemed like a good idea to me.  Meanwhile, Andy started calling from the top of the list to see if he could get first fender in someplace else.  I won.

So we walked outside among the masses of people waiting for their courtesy vans, and within minutes, we spotted the maroon van for the Marriott and away we went.  (Please note that the van's color – maroon – is very important.) We were the only ones on the van and had a great time chatting with the driver (who also offered us water – how nice!) and within minutes we were there.  And the place was gorgeous with a beautiful fire place, a bar and restaurant and an attentive front desk staff.  What could go wrong?

Plenty.  Turns out that we were booked at the Courtyard Marriott.  The Courtyard Marriott runs a green courtesy shuttle and it ran every 30 minutes.  The fancy Marriott's shuttle ran every few minutes.

Dejected, and embarrassed even though the booking person NEVER said anything about the Courtyard Marriott, we hopped the very nice shuttle from the wrong Marriott back to the airport.  And waited, and waited AND waited for the green van.

Meanwhile, the fancy Marriott's maroon van came by several times as did the Hilton and the Holiday Inn Express (the topic of today's discussion). Over and over and over again, they came along, picked up more stranded passengers, ferrying them to the hotel in question to drop them off.  Still no green van.

By this time, the crowds of people gathering for a courtesy van were getting larger and larger and testier and testier.  One hotel's van – I cannot recall which hotel - finally arrived, causing a stampede of people to get on the thing.  But at least 10 people couldn't fit on and holy cow, you would have thought the Titanic was sinking and there was only one lifeboat left, such was the distress of the "stranded" passengers.

Several hotel's vans were really tiny and in one case, barely had room for a mom and her two kids, one of whom was a baby.  The husband, who in charge of the family's 20 pieces of luggage had to stay behind with the luggage while the "women and children first" went to the hotel.

It was chaos.  Nah, make that Armageddon.  And still we waited and waited and waited.  We didn't dare get inside out of the cold and snow because then the van could come and what if we missed it? 

Finally – thank you Jesus – the green van for the Courtyard Marriott arrived.  As did the Holiday Inn Express – again!  We piled on and all fit which was a relief because who wanted to wait another half an hour...besides nobody?

By this time it was almost 9:00.  At no point were we able to get food or drink at the airport because that was upstairs in the gate area and we never got past the "Special Services" area in the basement of the airport where we had to go to reschedule our flights.   In a parallel family moment, my brother's 1:30 p.m. flight, also out of Newark, got cancelled and he flew standby for the 8:15 a.m. flight the next day.  He decided to sleep in the gate area.  Had we known, we could have all bunked together but 'tis not the Verme Family way to be that organized!

When we got to the hotel, to our right was a bar and restaurant that was open for another hour.  To our left, the front desk.  And I swear, for one, brief moment, every passenger on that van paused to ponder these choices: check in, pass "GO" and head to the room or check in later and proceed immediately to obtain a beverage and a tidbit.  Tough call, that one.  I was just happy to see a bar.  And food.  But particularly a bar.  Just sayin'.

The hilarious thing about this is that Andy and I had just checked out of a Courtyard Marriott in Somerset, NJ where we stayed for my aunt's funeral.  Had we known all this (i.e. had we had a crystal ball), we could have just made the reservation in advance and not had to scramble.  But where's the fun in that?

And so dear reader, although we did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express that night, I had a great time recalling the magic of the Holiday Inn of my youth, even if it was done while watching the "wrong" hotel courtesy van pass by us several times over.  I told a friend that we should have just hopped on a Holiday Inn Express van just for the hell of it.  Because when those people say "Express," they mean it!

Now then, as to this cookbook, leafing through this is almost as fun as going through the  hotel directory of old except this time it contains recipes.  By the time of the seventh publishing in 1972, the town of Marquette, Michigan, which is near my hometown, had opened a Holiday Inn.  Of their two recipes, only the one for a Pasty (pronounced paa –[like baa]- stee) floated my boat but pasties are a bit of work to make so I passed on the pasty.

Kokomo, Indiana's Holiday Inn recipe for "Talk of the Town Steak" also fell short given that it consisted only of round steak, seasoning salt, liquid smoke and bacon.  I decided not to ruin the memory of my very first Holiday Inn stay with such a simple recipe.

Andy favored the "Creamed Ham and Turkey Au Gratin" recipe from the Holiday Inn in East Lansing, Michigan but given that we had a lot of rich, Italian food, at my aunt's funeral, I suggested we pass.

Several other Holiday Inn recipes also fell by the wayside – some from Minnesota, a few others from New Jersey, Florida and also the Boston area – before we settled on the beef stew recipe from the Holiday Inn in Ames, IA.

I may have stayed at a Holiday Inn in Ames, IA.  I say "may" because the last trip I made to Ames where Iowa State University is located, was almost 30 years ago and the details of the "lodging" were fuzzy.  My best friend, who died almost 3 years ago on St. Patrick's Day, graduated from Iowa State, as did her grandparents, parents, siblings and a handful of friends.  After we met and become friends, she invited me down for a few graduations and friend/alumni get-togethers, and over the years, we added a few others from Minneapolis to our travel posse.  Sometimes we stayed at private homes (once we stayed in a commune) but other times a hotel.  Maybe the Holiday Inn, maybe not.  But in her honor and in her memory, I decided on that the beef stew was going to represent Holiday Inn's everywhere and it did an admirable job.

This is a very simple recipe although patience is required when cooking the beef stew meat so that it gets nice and tender.  The recipe says 1 -1 ½  hours and I say plan on 1 ½.  The vegetables, which are added at the end, stayed nice and crispy but not such that they were raw and the whole dish was pretty tasty.  If anything, it needed a bit of spice but you can cheat and add that on your own as the recipe only called for paprika and salt.

Beef Stew – serves 8
3 pounds boneless beef, cubed
1/3 cup cooking oil
2 cups beef stock or bouillon
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups potatoes, peeled & diced
1 ½ cups diced carrots
1 ½ cups tomato paste
1 cup onion, diced
½ cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Ann's Note:  Although I only made half the recipe, you will likely need to add almost 2 cups of liquid so that your broth doesn't boil down.  I started with 1 cup and then added another cup halfway through cooking, making sure to cover the meat.  If making half a recipe, reduce the amount of all other ingredients though, including the cornstarch.

 Sauté beef in oil in a heavy skillet.  Brown on all sides.  Add stock and cook slowly until meat is tender (1-1 ½ hours).  Add seasonings, then vegetables and cook until they are done.  (Ann's Note:  This includes the tomato paste.)  Carefully add thickening for gravy (blend cornstarch in a small amount of water and add gradually to stock). 

No comments: