For the past year, I've used my wok more than any other cookware, mainly because of the Chinese cookbook I was working on and blogging for my other website, Appetite for China. The beautiful shiny red Dutch oven I received for Christmas last year sat in the corner for months, boxed up from my last move. As much as I loved stir-frying with the wok, I missed the lovely braised dishes that came out of the gorgeous ruby cocotte. And I missed, compared with the wok, how little space it took up on my narrow apartment-sized stove. It was time for the Dutch oven to see daylight again (well, fluorescent kitchen light...)
I recently looked at the list I made for all the dishes from old cookbooks I wanted to try for this site, and roughly half of them are braises and stews. Maybe it's because we're deep in the throes of winter. Maybe it's because stews are so economical, in terms of both money and time, and a braise that took 2 hours and $15 worth of ingredients to make can last the next few nights. Or maybe it's just I frequently daydream about meltingly tender cuts of meat.