DILLED BEEF STEW
3 pounds boneless chuck roast
3 tablespoons butter
3 ½ cups beef broth
1 teaspoon allspice
½ tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons flour
2 ½ teaspoons sugar
2 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
½ cup cream
4 teaspoons dill
Serves 6 (How big are your bowls?) Takes 2 hours 15 minutes.
Cut chuck roast into 1″ cubes. Mince onion. Put roast and butter into Dutch oven. Sauté for 5-to-10 minutes on medium-high heat or until chuck-roast cubes turn brown. Stir occasionally. Add beef broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low. Add onion, allspice, pepper, bay leaf, and salt. Cover and simmer on low heat for 90 minutes. Skim off foam as it occurs. Remove meat from Dutch oven and set aside.
Add flour, sugar, and red wine vinegar to broth and increase heat to medium. Stir continually until sauce thickens. Add cream and dill. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
1) Ronkainen, a legendary Finnish robber of the 1700s, had would-be gang members carry a heavy woman over an obstacle course to prove their strength. The annual wife-carrying championships in Sonkajaarvi, Finland derive from this test. Wife carrying is not an Olympic sport. However, synchronized swimming is.
2) Finns excel at non-traditional sports as well. Be sure to make your way to Savonlinna, Finland during August for its prestigious Cell Phone Throwing Championship. Participants throw the cell phones over their shoulders and are judged by distance and techniques. Cell-phone-throwing mania is going global having caught in the rest of Europe and in the United States. This would be one Olympic event I would watch. Contact the proper agency for rules of competition. Despite the obvious tie in, I don’t believe Nokia is an official sponsor.
3) Air guitar enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Air Guitar season. Prestigious events are held in Germany along with Japan’s own elimination tournament. However, the crème de la crème of air guitardom is the World Final, held in Oulu, Finland in late August. Don’t forget to pack your air guitar or you’ll be forced to buy one at the local Ouluan shops and you’ll know what high prices you’ll see there.
4) The Mosquito Swatting Championship is held each year in Finland. Contestants try to swat the most mosquitoes in 5 minutes. Over thirty is a good number. I don’t know when the event takes place, but I imagine it is in the mosquito season. Visitors who attract mosquitoes like flies, hee hee, will be asked to sit in the back rows as the mosquitoes biting them diminish the number of mosquitoes available to the contestants.
5) Finland hosts the Ant Nest Sitting Competition. Athletes–whom am I kidding?–sit on an ant hill for as long as they can stand the ant bites. Okay, this one is weird.
6) Relax while competing! Enter the Finnish Sauna World Championship Simply stay the longest inside Finnish sauna in a temperature 110 degrees centigrade, 240 degrees fahrenheit. Held in August in Heinola, Finland, this contest makes a natural companion to tourists taking in the Air Guitar final.
7) Love soccer? Love mud? Head on over to Hyrynsalmi., Finland where over 200 teams from all over the world vie to win the Swamp Soccer World Cup. It’s held during Finland’s mud season.
8) If the idea of bodies writhing in mud gets you hot and bothered, be sure to take in the Kutemajarvi Sex Festival and Matchmaking Festival held in the towns Kangasniemi and Kurikka, Finland. If you are interested, please visit the Rakkausfestivalli’s website where a knowledge of the Finnish language helps a lot.
9) Speaking of speaking Finnish, consider attending the Finnish Dialect Speaking Championship held in early July in Kuopio, Finland. Past winners have usually demonstrated a strong command of this Nordic language.
10) Can’t speak Finnish, but still love to make yourself heard? Alapitka, Finland, puts on the renowned Cattle Calling Championship. Techniques of the champions are closely guarded secrets.
11) Lost at the Cattle Calling Championship? Want to take out your frustration from months of wasted practice? Redeem yourself by entering Milk Stool Throwing contests held all over rural Finland in early summer.
12) But above all else behave yourself while visiting Finland. Finnish prisoners are only allowed to use the sauna once a week. Scared straight, you bet.
– Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.