When I found myself running behind schedule on Saturday and unable to keep my promise to make Navarin Printanier, or lamb stew with spring vegetables, on our appointed time, I came to the conclusion that Lisa would eventually understand when she learned how frequently I am tardy. Seldom are the days when I don’t feel like Sandra Bullock dropping articles from my armful of items as I’m running to my next engagement. I never mean for it to happen; it’s just such a slippery slope. I didn’t quite feel that she was ready for that yet.

As it turns out, Lisa didn’t cook her stew on Saturday either, and once again we found ourselves talking on the phone while preparing our lamb and chopping our vegetables. This time we chatted as if we were sitting at the same table preparing and assembling the ingredients for our next project. We talked about our friends; the friends with whom we recently came into contact and those whom we wished we did. We talked about the ongoing events of our lives and our plans for the future, intermittent with my questions about what happens if I don’t cut all of the thin clear skin off of the lamb to the taste of parsnips. We laughed about and loved the term of our circle dubbed “Peas in a Pod”, as we have the privilege of belonging in a friendship of extraordinary women. It truly was a fulfilling conversation between friends. Again, we hung up at the time I needed both hands to continue cooking.

It took about an hour toiling over trimming skin and cartridge from my boneless leg of lamb (at $22.00 for about 3.5 lbs). Yep, just trimming the lamb.

Fortunately, I always find this type of activity to be relaxing and very soon found myself happily in my zone. My kitchen was soon filled with the satisfying aroma of browning meat, followed by the inclusion of the seasonings, broth and tomato paste. I felt relaxed from my hectic weekend when my Navarin Printanier, happily housed in my beautiful green iron Rachel Ray roasting pot, was finally placed in the oven.

For the first time in my life, I engaged in preparing and eventually eating turnips and parsnips. I was excited at the notion of trying new vegetables to my repertoire. Lisa told me that parsnips are often used in place of carrots in this type of dish, and as a root vegetable, it made sense. If I liked them, it would be another great way for me to sneak in an additional vegetable into my sometimes-healthy diet. After the first hour of roasting, the vegetables were put into the pot, which marked the beginning of the home stretch to mealtime.

The stew was perfect. It was a rustic and hearty meal without any of the sophistication found in other dishes. I ate it over jasmine rice – of course, because everything is served with rice in a Filipino household – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. All-in-all, the Navarin Printanier, like my friend Lisa, offered a sense of comforting familiarity.

Yesterday was Leana's and my day to cook Julia's Lamb Stew.  Once again, I was near a real supermarket on Friday so picking up some various lamb cuts was not difficult.  And, the lamb was on sale and each pack had a $2 coupon on the packaging as well!  Awesome!  I purchased, lamb loin chops, lamb shoulder chops, and a rack of lamb.  I didn't use the rack of lamb...I'll save that.
So, Saturday, I started to get things out to begin this endeavor and I stalled.  I had to show the house, had to see my Dad, had to run to the store, and we had a sitter that eve so we could join friends for an adult dinner out.  Ugh.  Saturday just was not going to work for me.  So, I facebooked Leana that I would be putting of my cooking until Sunday.  As it turned out, she was totally on board with that because of her busy Saturday!!

So, Sunday late afternoon rolled around and I gave Leana a call, leaving a message for her to call me when she began cooking.  While I was assembling, rearranging and taking pictures, Leana called back.  She too, was just getting started.  So we chatted up a storm while prepping our ingredients!  Seriously, we talked for an hour...maybe more!

While we chopped vegetables and cut up various pieces of lamb we talked some about high school.  We've reconnected with a core group of girls on Facebook that were classmates of ours.  Funny thing is, none of us hung out together in high school!  Most of us were friends, laughed together, attended all the perfunctory high school events, but I, for one, never spent anytime outside of school with these fabulous ladies!  We've been dubbed PEAS in a POD by our dear friend Estee!  She was quick to point out that our pod is expandable to all those who may be kindred spirits!  After we laughed at length about how we've reconnected or connected with these women who are flung far and wide across the country, we discussed work.

You'll recall, Leana is the hip professional living in a real city, while I'm the home-schooling Mom who eeks out a semblance of a professional life here in rural nowheresville.  I chided on my last post that Leana and I didn't have alot in common, but as it turns out, I was wrong!  Leana commented that yanking my kiddo out of school in a small community such as mine has was a gutsy move on my part, and she is right about that.  A few sentences later I find out my little firecracker of a friend up and quit her job!  Quit...as in left it all behind!  And she did this during a time of huge economic downturn!  GUTSY???  Yep, she's gutsy.  She's also gainfully employed after 13 days on the market.  Leana is trying her hand at CONSULTING!!!  What do I do???  CONSULTING!  Yes, cooking is not the only thing I have in common with Leana!  We may have been cut from the same cloth!  F-U-N!!!

Back to the recipe...poor Leana was wrestling with her leg of lamb while I was all ready to start my dish.  We had to end our call so she could properly trim her lamb.  Ugh...it was just so, so, so, much of a pleasure to spend time chatting with Leana over cooking prep!

I began browning my chunks of lamb and placing them in the casserole and the smell the permeated my kitchen was nothing less than the perfect smell of savory goodness!  This dish was going to rock!

Once I had the stew in the oven, I set the table and apologized to my husband and son for the late hour of our dinner.  Sometimes, I don't plan as well as I should.  But, they didn't seem to mind and were willing to wait. 

Finally, it was time to cook the fresh peas and green beans.  The original recipe calls for one or the other, but I wanted to use both!

Into the boiling salt water went the peas and the trimmed green beans.  I had to laugh!  Look at all those PEAS!  I was again thinking of the great friends I've reconnected with that are forever dubbed, the PEAS!

Finally, the stew was done, the bread was warm and we were seated at the table.  Jack, my little foodie, was excited to try something new!  He was first in his seat for dinner for a change!

Per usual for me, I did not follow the exact recipe.  I'm one of THOSE cooks and in fact, might be one of THOSE parents, one of THOSE general peoples who just don't always go by the book.  I look at the recipe, I follow some of the recipe but I inevitably find things to change before even trying out a dish.  To Julia's lamb stew, I added more vegetables.  My family loves vegetables, so I added parsnips, extra potatoes, more garlic, extra stock, and I mentioned, the peas AND the green beans.

The verdict:  It was a great dinner.  Was it as good as the boeuf bourguignon from last time? No. But it was darn good. The lamb was so succulent it just melted in your mouth. The taste of the fresh turnips reminded me quickly of my childhood and gardening at the farm with my Grandfather. Yes, it was a worthy dish and I will make it again. My son and husband agreed.

Bless you Julia Child, not just for your wonderful legacy of recipes, but for, in a round about way, bringing Leana and the other Peas into my life!