Camp Howard and Irish Stew

March 7 – March 13, 2022

Note:  Just below the recipe, at the end of the blog is the picture I promised last week – the first of many babies and dogs, we hope.

Tuesday:                   Pasta Putanesca

Wednesday:            Chicken Smashburgers with Cole Slaw and Beans

Thursday:                 Spring Minestrone with Avocado Toast

Friday:                       Virginia Spots

Saturday:                  Lamb Stew, Tri-Color Salad with Oranges, Baguette    Apps:     Dessert:  Chocolate Butter Cake with Rum Cream Sauce

March 14 – March 19, 2022 – Naples, Florida

Camp Howard and Irish Stew

Below is part of our schedule for last week, spent at Camp Howard in Naples, Florida:

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

8:30             Walk to Le Petit for breakfast

10:30          Tour the “Greatest Yankees” exhibit at Baker Museum

1:30              Lunch at Old Collier

Afternoon:    Nap, Read, Sun

8:30              Patti LaBelle concert at The Artis

10:30           Late night cocktails and snack

Our responsibilities last week, consisted in:

  • Get up when you wish
  • Have some coffee and read the papers
  • Take a walk on the beach or go to the pool
  • Play golf
  • Talk to Howard and Mere
  • Read
  • Decide where to go for lunch
  • Decide when to have cocktails
  • Decide where to go or what to cook for dinner
  • Collapse into bed

A note about Camp Howard:  Howard is, of course, the main, indeed, the only counselor, but without the camp’s COO, Mere, nothing would happen on time, keys to cars would be lost, the food would run out, beds would be unmade, and the whole place would probably burn down.  (In Howard’s defense, he is meticulous about keeping the booze in ample supply.)

The schedule reflects Howard’s appetite for activity – larger than the energizer bunny’s – but not reality.  But we did get to the “Greatest Yankees” exhibit.    As you might expect, the 1960 World Series, arguably the most exciting of all time, was not emphasized.  The most interesting things were the old mitts which resembled leather potholders – difficult to imagine chasing down and catching a fly ball from Ruth or Gehrig with that equipment – and the players’ contracts which were brief and indicated that even these great players started out making less than the manager of a McDonald’s franchise.

All in all, it was a week in paradise.*  Before we left, Stacey and Howard IV and their children and friends arrived and things got even livelier.

The food in Naples was great – Mere is a great cook, Old Collier and Royal Poinciana are clubs with great cuisine and the Swan River Fish Company and other purveyors make Naples one of the great places for home cooks on the continent.

*How like paradise, you ask?  The whole place is one large, well-kept garden with an unobtrusive army of landscapers constantly trimming and planting and watering. The Palace at Versailles could learn a lesson from Naples.  If you like flora and fauna (pelicans are constantly sailing overhead like dwarf military cargo planes) then Naples should be on your itinerary.

Below we share with you a dish we cooked before the vacation – sort of a trial run for cooking Irish Stew on St. Patty’s Day which we never got around to.  I can’t remember if we were napping or drinking or watching basketball or just lying in the sun.


(adapted from Ina Garten)

Timing:                                        2 hours and 20 minutes

Ingredients:                                          Serves 8

3 pounds lamb shoulder, 1 ½” diced – you may find, as I did, that you cannot get 3 pounds of lamb shoulder (our stores offered 8 lbs. of lamb shoulder, bone-in).  Use leg of lamb instead and cook for the same time.

2 tablespoons canola oil

¼ pound applewood smoked bacon, ¾ inch diced

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

2 cups beef stock

1 cup full-bodied red wine

1 cup diced canned tomatoes (we suggest San Marzano)

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 pound carrots, cut on the bias into 1 ½-inch sections

12 ounces, small Yukon Gold potatoes – 1 ½” diced

8-10 ounces cippolini or pearl onions (we used frozen pearl onions – thawed out)

6 small turnips, whole or halved, depending on size – try to match them in size to the carrots, potatoes and lamb.

2 tablespoons butter at room temperature

10 oz. frozen green peas

½ cup chopped parsley leaves

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Thaw pearl onions (if using)

Dice Lamb (remove hard fat)

Dice vegetables, mince garlic, thyme leaves and rosemary

Assemble beef stock, red wine

Preheat oven to 350 F


In a large Dutch oven and heat the canola oil over medium.

Add the bacon and cook until browned – 5-7 minutes.  Remove to a plate.

Dry the lamb with paper towels and toss in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Now add the ¼ cup of AP flour and toss until the lamb pieces are evenly coated.

Cook half of the lamb in the bacon fat until browned – turning from time to time (5-7 minutes).  Remove to a plate.  Cook the second half of the lamb, remove to plate.

Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring.

Pour the lamb and bacon and their juices back into the pot.

Add the beef stock, wine, tomatoes (with juices), thyme, rosemary, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper.

Bring to a boil, scraping up the brown bits in the pot.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then cover and place in the oven for 30 minutes.

Now add the carrots, potatoes, onions and turnips, cover and return to the oven for 1 hour.

Mash 2 tablespoons of flour with 2 tablespoons of butter and stir into the stew and simmer on top of the stove for 3 minutes, stirring.

Off the heat, stir in the peas and the parsley and re-season – you’ll probably want more salt.

Serve hot in large, shallow bowls.

Marj’s granddaughter, Mallory, holding Marj’s great granddaughter, Alida