Deep Purple Shepherd’s Stew

purple stew

No photos were edited for this blog post. If anything, that color is a bit muted.

There’s really nothing special about it. Some lamb, some carrots, some potatoes and onions, parsley and thyme and garlic.

But it’s purple!

One of the joys of growing your own food is the delightful variety. My family loves to focus on color when we plant vegetables. Really, we’re also focusing on nutrition, because specific nutrients coincide with specific colors in produce. For instance, orange and yellow indicate beta carotene. Purple indicates high levels of anthocyanins, a strong antioxidant. The more purple, the higher the levels. That’s why blueberries are so healthy.

It doesn't have to be a ladylike carrot. Just a purple one.

It doesn’t have to be a ladylike carrot. Just a purple one.

First, take a crockpot. Chop up 1-2 pounds of lamb. Pour in a can of beef or vegetable stock. Turn onto low and cook for at least an hour.

Then, chop up 4 or 5 purple carrots and add those in. The deeper purple, the more purple color your food will be. The color in purple carrots does NOT cook out. I’ve had some very lavender curry because I used a couple of purple carrots.

Add a red onion… which is, actually, purple. The color of the onions isn’t going to help the color of the stew much, but you might as well coordinate, right?

Cook that for awhile, until the carrots are just starting to turn tender. Add a few cloves of garlic. What the heck? Make it Italian Purple garlic. Salt your stew. Add fresh herbs. Add more beef or vegetable stock, if necessary, to keep everything submerged.

Rainbow Potatoes, September 2012

Rainbow Potatoes, September 2012

Now it’s time for a pound or so of purple potatoes! I like to grow Purple Majesty because of the intense color. You can see a freshly cut Purple Majesty there. If you cut these then boil them, you’ll get lavender mashed potatoes. If you bake them whole, you’ll get royal purple baked potatoes. Beautiful, aren’t they? Wash and chop your potatoes, and add them to your stew. Cook it all until the potatoes are tender.

Do you like a thick, gravy-like stew? When it’s almost done, add some flour. Either standard flour or gluten-free works fine. Whisk it in, then let the stew boil to thicken up.

Now… invite friends over for dinner, and hope they’re open-minded. Deep purple shepherd’s stew tastes just like the regular kind, but it’s rather shocking to see.

My kids have gotten used to odd food colors. We have green, yellow, and “black tomatoes.” Purple, pink, yellow, and white potatoes. Carrots and Swiss chard in five colors each. Because, when you grow your own food, there’s a reason to do it. If I’m growing to compete with grocery store prices, at least I can produce a rainbow of vegetables that the store can’t even begin to offer!

About Marissa Ames

I’m a working mom, a devoted wife, an author and a homesteader. I spend my free time eating lunch. My homesteading story began 180 years ago, with pioneering ancestors who made drastic changes to preserve faith and values. With each generation the plot repeats: A diligent father works long hours to provide for his family. An innovative mother fills in the gaps while striving to uphold her faith and values. Children follow in their parents’ footsteps, returning to proven methods when modern times fall short on promises of a better life. Now my husband and I live the lessons taught by our parents, working to support our family through conventional careers in addition to urban farming. We raise chickens and other poultry, rely on large-scale urban gardening, and get through the winter with canning and food preservation. In the spring and summer we grow food; in the fall we preserve it; in the winter we make cheese and soap and chronicle the year’s experiences. I began the Ames Family Farm blog on a whim, mostly to secure the name in case I took my talents further and started a greenhouse or an educational system. What came to fruition exceeded my own ambitions. Now I share my experiences through Ames Family Farm, Countryside and Backyard Poultry Magazines, other publications, and social media. I speak at conventions and work with school gardening projects, advocating sustainability and backyard chickens in urban settings. Mostly, I offer what I can as friends and acquaintances seek help with gardening or homesteading endeavors. My current books in progress include Huntsman, the third book in the Tir Athair medieval fantasy series, and a homesteading series to help budget-minded urbanites enhance their living spaces to save money and advocate a healthier, happier way of life. I continue to contribute to Countryside and Backyard Poultry through it all. I believe homesteading is meant to save money rather than cost more. That gardening enhances health and joy as well as cutting costs, that canning and food preservation are keys to self-reliance when bad times hit. That everyone has the ability to homestead. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment and cannot keep chickens, you can make cheese or sew clothing. Even in a food desert you can budget and preserve food to protect your health and way of life.
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