Sarah’s Mustard & Herb Beef Stew: Pressure Cooker Recipe

Last night, Tom and I went to see the Brandywine Roller Girls’ All Stars in Elkton, MD. While we had wanted to attend, we had a lot of work to do yesterday and actually going was a last minute decision. This meant that I was in a bit of a scramble for dinner… again.

I skimmed through my pantry and fridge, and whooped with delight over my remaining buy-one-get-one-free London Broil.

Utilizing the fast-acting magic of my trusty pressure cooker, below is the recipe I came up with… and it was so yummy, I had to write down for posterity’s sake.

This well-seasoned stew that tastes like it’s been roasting all day long. (Shh! It does! Pressure cookers really are magical!) The thickened stick-to-your-ribs broth is way more enjoyable than plebeian clear pan juices, not to mention much more fun to mop with a crusty piece of bread.

When washed down with some frothy autumn ale, you might even feel a bit rustic while you enjoy this meal and, for a moment at least, forget that your heating bills are about to increase.

Sarah’s Mustard & Herb Beef Stew

(Pressure Cooker – Approx. 30 min total cook time)
10 Servings

Main ingredients:
3 lbs London Broil, cut into 2″ cubes (Beef roast or other stew meat would work, too!)
4 lg celery stalks, cut into 2″ pieces
4 lg carrots, cut into 2″ pieces
10 medium thin-skinned potatoes, halved
1 large onion, thinly sliced
32 oz beef broth

Flavoring ingredients:
2-3 TB brown mustard
2 TB Worcestershire sauce
5 fresh sage leaves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

Prepare in Ziplock bag and SAVE remainder:
2 cups flour
2 tsp salt
1 TB garlic powder
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Cooking oil

In small batches, place cubed beef into Ziplock bag and shake to coat with flour mixture. SAVE the remaining flour mixture!

Pour oil into the pressure cooker pot Рenough to coat the surface. When the oil is hot, saut̩ the onions to al dente. Remove the onions with metal tongs and set them aside in a mixing bowl.

Brown the floured beef in the hot oil in small batches until the meat has a bit of crusty goodness. Place browned meat in the bowl with the onions.

Deglaze the fond with the beef broth. Whisk in mustard, Worcestershire and dried herbs. Add remaining flavoring ingredients and bring to a boil. TASTE and adjust seasoning (salt may be needed if your broth is bland) as needed.

Add to pot in this order: Beef cubes & onions, potatoes, carrots & celery. (The majority of the potatoes should be covered with the broth.)

Bring to a boil.

Secure pressure cooker lid and cook on high heat until the pressure regulator begins to rock. Lower the heat to medium, or enough to keep the regulator rocking gently.

Set the timer for 15 minutes.

Follow the procedures in your pressure cooker’s instruction manual to quickly depressurize your pot.

Using a colander, separate the cooked meat and veggies from the broth. Return the broth to the pot. Scoop out about 1 cup of broth into your mixing bowl and whisk in about 3 Tb of the reserved seasoned flour mixture. Add the flour slurry back into the pot of broth, and bring it to a boil to thicken.

Add the cooked ingredients back to the thickened broth.

Serve steaming hot with crusty bread and your favorite autumn beer.

Husbands: How Would You Like Beer Always Stocked in the Fridge?

What if your wife always kept your favorite beer stocked in the fridge?

To some wives, it may seem like a crazy thing to do. Buying beer may not something “ingrained” into the way some women think – and it may even require a detour from their comfort zone to go to the beer section of the grocery store or even ::gulp:: to the beer distributor.

Would it make you feel loved, though, if she did?

It would let you know that she cared about the things that were important to you after a hard day’s work. It would let you know that she valued your contribution to the household, and that, rather than handing you one more thing for you to do when you get home, she’d find a way to be a blessing to you instead.

Consider this —

When you pick up your clothes vs. leave on floor for wife to clean, your actions tell her that you respect her time and personhood.

When I tweeted this earlier, my Twitter bud @Kuma said,

“You assume that his leaving [clothes] for wife is a conscious choice. As a single man I can tell you it is genetically ingrained. We will get to it when we need to. It’s just that women’s ‘need to’ threshold is so much lower.”

I definitely agree with Kuma that leaving laundry on the floor is a tough habit to break.

To clarify, I do not assume that, just because clothes are left on the floor, although it may feel like it to a lady with lots of housework on her to-do list, it is not usually the conscious intention of a man to stick it to his wife.

As Kuma alluded, many men may have had well-intentioned mothers who cleaned bedrooms for them since early childhood, and dirty laundry was whisked away as if magical elves lived in the crannies with the dust bunnies. (And yes, dear, if you’re reading this… I am sometimes guilty of this…. especially when the Realtor is en route!)

Part of what makes relationships special, though, is doing the things that aren’t always convenient.

In fact, when someone goes out of their comfort zone to honor someone else, it means much more than doing something that comes naturally.

Sure, it’s just a sock.
Or, a piece of underwear.
Or your clerty (kinda clean + kinda dirty) shirt.

For the woman you’d travel to the ends of the earth to woo, just picking up a piece of laundry shouldn’t be that big of a deal… right?

Now, for those of you wives who are reading this, before you forward this post to your laundry-leaving husbands, consider all of the wonderful things they already do for you.

Without any expectations of change, change your own heart first.

Picking up his favorite beverage shouldn’t be that big of a deal… right?

For husbands who do clean up their laundry or are considering making this change — know that it is a gesture that is much appreciated. Picking up your clothes is one of many subtle ways to underscore how much you care.

To make everyday married love work, you have to put love in the everyday.

Photo credit : Anders Adermark and Jeezny.

Favorite Crêpe Batter Recipe / Nutella, Bananas and the Cthulhu Crêpe Monster

Last-of-the-Batter Turned Crêpe Monster!

This weekend, we had a lovely brunch together. Everyone helped to make Banana Nutella Cr̻pes. While we worked, in true homeschooler fashion, we talked about Henry Ford, assembly lines and efficiency. We also passed around the Cthulhu Cr̻pe Monster Рthe result of the last slosh of batter in the pan that seemed to take on a personality of its own.

(Banana Nutella Crêpes served with a delicious Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier make for a well-balanced breakfast!)

Favorite Classic Crêpe Batter Recipe

1 C milk
4 eggs
1 C flour
1/2 TSP salt
1 1/2 TB melted butter

Mix until smooth.
Let rest for 30 minutes (this is the key!) before use.

Dessert Crêpe Batter: Prepare Classic Crêpe Batter and add 2 TB sugar and 2 TB liqueur.

Chocolate Crêpe Batter: Prepare Dessert Crêpe Batter with flour reduced to 3/4 C and add 3TB cocoa powder.

Thomas slices bananas
Thomas Slices Bananas
Micah Places Bananas on a Thin Layer of Nutella
Tabitha's on Nutella duty
The Crêpe Tasters
Aiden is Attacked by the Crêpe Monster

A Real Party


For the first time in three years, I went to a party.

Not a children’s party where parents helicopter playtime while standing against the wall and comparing whose child is the most “gifted” or has the worst case of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Not a “you-don’t-have-to-buy-anything … just-come-for-fun” bait and switch party.

Not a baby shower / horror birth story swap.

It was a real party.

Dinner was at an off-the-beaten-path Korean yakiniku 焼き肉 . The party – a combined birthday party for two of my friends, and two of their friends – was in an upper tatami room. (It was kinda sad to finally have an opportunity to wear my favorite satin heels, only to have to take them off at the entrance!)

The tables were traditional Japanese style, low to the ground, accompanied by elaborate green brocade cushions to kneel upon. Two grills were on embedded into each table, to cook plates of raw meat to preference – I like mine medium rare.

Daikon salad, sesame beef, and gyoza stuffed with kimchi and cheddar were served in hand thrown stoneware platters. Large glass pitchers of local, fresh, pulpy apple juice and Sapporo beer were refilled the moment they were emptied.

I drove Tom’s car for the first time. I thought it was best, being as he was singing merrily as we left the restaurant.

From there, we went to Big Echo, a karaoke place with private rooms. Ours was #13. All 20 of us sang every song as loudly as we could.

I wore a little black dress.

I drank foamy beer in a big thick sturdy glass mug.

I smoked a handful of cheap vanilla vending machine cigarettes.

I sang karaoke.

I smiled and laughed so much my cheeks hurt.

When we arrived home at midnight and, yes, my babysitter was paid handsomely for those extra 30 minutes, all of my children were still awake. I had to put them into bed myself, but it was so worth it.

Thankful for laughter. Thankful for friends. Thankful for babysitters. Thankful for a husband whom I can still have a superawesomefun time with, best friends even after 10 years of marriage.

Tachi Neputa Festival – Goshogawara 2009

Neputa war-gods descending upon the city

We crossed over the bridge into Goshogawara at dusk. In the distance, I could see an assemblage of fierce, heathen Neputa war-gods descending upon the city. Entering the human world through the doors of an enormous warehouse, the Neputa shown brightly, illuminated from within.

Without changing pose, they floated through the streets. One Neputa stood tall, arms raised in triumph. Another held a knife to the throat of an enemy, whose face was twisted in a pained grimace.

As I walked with my family toward the center of the city, the sound of rhythmic drum grew louder and louder. The beat was punctuated by the shouts of “yattemare”, meaning to fight or throw stones, by costumed, dancing haneto mortals, who were dwarfed by the magnificent creatures. I pulled my children in close beside me and we walked down the densely crowded sidewalk to get a closer look.

pickleonstick Vendors selling sake, beer, yakisoba and skewered hot dogs, pickles, and yakitori lined the streets. They enticed passersby with by sing-sing lists of their wares.

We settled at the corner of an intersection, the first in the parade route, and did our best to mingle with the crowd.

When I looked upwards, I noticed that, while we were surrounded by buildings, the were no power lines running along the street. (I later learned that the streets were specifically designed to accommodate the Neputa’s annual visit, and that all electric and telephone cables for the structures along the parade route were run through an underground tunnel system.)

Slowly, ushered by haneto dancers, some of whom were very young, the enormous creatures moved towards us. The Neputa were about 22 meters tall and were made of sculpted metal scaffolding, covered in brightly painted washi to depict Neputa warriors. The Neputa stood on wooden platforms covered with images of with waves, flowers, stars and war scenes. Inside the Neputa, strung along the scaffolding, were strands of light bulbs that made the towering gods glow in the darkness. We had an amazing view.

Each group of dancers paused to perform in front of us. When they noticed our obviously foreign presence, they purposefully danced next to us (see 1:47 of first video below) and pushed their beautifully grotesque painted faces in front of our wide eyes. They offered some tiny cymbals to my children, but my frightened children shook their heads and refused to play. I hoisted Leah, my youngest, up to my shoulders so that she could see over the crowd. She grabbed my hair and wrapped her chubby little legs around my neck. We found the rhythm and danced together.

A particularly large Tachi Neputa entered the intersection square. Costumed men blew whistles to warn onlookers to stand back. Then, they grabbed ropes tethered to the base of Neputa and began to run in circles around the towering giant. It began to spin. High above the traffic lights and buildings, the Neputa spun like a gigantic top. His face, body and all his decorations blurred into a frenzied whirl.

The Neputa festival is an annual matsuri event that takes place in early August in various cities around Aomori Prefecture. In our city, it is spelled “Neputa”, but elsewhere in Japan, it is “Nebuta”. Our city is known for the “Tachi” Neputa, which are significantly taller than the traditional sized Nebuta seen in other cities.

Learn more:
Goshogawara Tourist Association: Tachi Neputa
Matsuri (Japanese Festivals)
Aomori Nebuta Festival (Wikipedia)
Matsuri Festival Food – Photo Library

Photo Credit: Yours truly.
Video Credit: My husband Tom :)