A Virtual Holiday with Don Elmore

As Christmas looms on the horizon, we continue to look for ideas and inspiration to adapt our holiday traditions. While you look for ways to connect while keeping you and your loved ones safe, we asked Don Elmore, Director for the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and owner of Jane Addams Bookshop how he will spend his holidays.

“We have hosted a dinner and gift exchange at our house for many years with about 20 family members. A dinner wouldn’t be safe but the gift exchange will happen via Zoom, and we can now include family members as far away as Tennessee, Denver and Alaska!” He goes on to say, “These are always raucous events with rampant gift stealing and underhanded teamwork (all in good fun – usually). Maybe it will be better, at least for family relationships, as a virtual event.”

Holiday meals are often a highlight of family gatherings. Don shares their traditional meal. “Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner has become very popular recently but we have been making it for many years. Ingredients are locally sourced if possible: Lasagna with homemade “all day” meat sauce, Caesar salad, garlic bread, tiramisu. Family members have their own roles in preparing the meal. When did this become so popular? Now if you wait too long to shop you can’t find lasagna noodles or ladyfingers.”

“Because many of my recipes are “make as you go,” I will share a simpler, perfect go-to cold weather meal.”

Braised Guinness Beef Roast (thanks to Triple S Farms)

  • ~3 lbs beef portion (chuck, tri-tip, or round – inexpensive cuts are fine for this – or flank or brisket if you want to spend more)
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (14.9 oz) Guinness Draught
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Flour, salt, pepper, herbs to taste
  1. Lightly dust the beef roast with salt, pepper and flour. Heat oil in a stock pot large enough to hold all ingredients, then brown the roast on both sides.
  2. Remove the roast, then sauté the onions until they begin to turn light brown. (Add more oil if needed.)
  3. Add ½ cup water to deglaze the pot, then return the roast to the pot.
  4. Add mushrooms and any desired herbs (small amounts of bay or sage work well)
  5. Add Guinness.
  6. Add water so about half of roast is covered; more may be added later as needed.
  7. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
  8. Cook for at least 2 hours, turning roast occasionally and adding water if needed.

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