How Tom Imagined Life Would Be

Smoke rings rose into a little cloud about Tom’s head as he sat, laptop open, at our dining room table. Four of our five children surrounded him with their character sheets and little piles of multicolored dice in front of them — it was their first time playing D&D.

On the other side of the wall, a swiveling butler door between us, I sautéed onions and used my favorite red spatula to encourage droplets of batter through a colander into a large pot of boiling water (and all over my counter and stove top).

My character, Danaë, a Wilden Shaman, will enter the campaign later.

Tomorrow, our church is having an Oktoberfest-themed fellowship meal, and I was preparing our two contributions:

A casserloe made of Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg
Spaetzle Casserole with Sautéed Onions, Gruyère and a pinch of Nutmeg
Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway
Braised Red Cabbage with Vinegar and Caraway

I brought in a bowl of the Spaetzle casserole mixture and a fork for Tom to try. “Oh, that’s good!” he said. “Hmm… does it need any salt?” he thought aloud. “Nope.. it’s perfect,” he concluded.

A few moments later, I brought in the brazed cabbage. This, too, met his taste-buds’ approval.

“You know, this is how I always imagined life would be,” he said.

“Smoking a pipe, and being your children’s Dungeon Master, while your wife brings in homemade German food for you to taste?” I said, smiling.

“Exactly.”

Fridge Snapshot : Prolonging the Life of Poultry

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An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry. – George Eliot

This is my current fridge interior. Yes, that bag says “Chicken Guts” and, yes, there are two whole chickens being brined in that enormous metal bowl.

After roasting these brined chickens tomorrow, their remains will join up with “Chicken Guts” and be boiled into gallons of lovely homemade broth.

Meanwhile in Washington…

Bwak! Bwak!

Low-carb Japanese Curried Scrambled Eggs with Mushrooms and Nori (Seaweed)

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This is one of my favorite egg dishes, which I concocted while living in Northern Japan. I’m thankful for the International food aisle at our local grocery store, so I can still enjoy this while living in Pennsylvania!

Not only is this an amazing, easy, flavorful meal… it’s Atkins friendly :) By individually adding the ingredients into My Fitness Pal, I found this recipe has 312 calories, 21 grams of protein and 4 carbs.

Recipe

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Whisk together:

  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 tsp of quality soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Japanese curry powder
  • 3 small sliced sautéed *mushrooms
  • Pour into a pan, and sauté like ordinary scrambled eggs. Do not overcook.

    Top with snips of nori.

    *Shiitake mushrooms make this dish taste more authentic, but any kind will do. Brown button mushrooms were used for the batch in the photo.

    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

    Directions:
    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.

    Pepperoni Rigatoni : A One-Pot Meal

    “I’m tired of my mother
    in my dreams
    playing Rita Hayworth leaping
    on restaurant tables stomping
    a fiery flamenco barefoot
    on half-eaten pepperoni pizzas.”

    Pepperoni Pizzas & Salsa Dancers (excerpt) by Bob Genevro

    Sometimes 3lb bags of pepperoni at the bulk food store cost just as much as the half-pound bag at the regular-old-grocery stores.

    According to my panel of five amateur food critics, today’s made-up dinner recipe needs to added to the list of acceptable weeknight dinner foods.

    Pepperoni Rigatoni

    2lbs of Rigatoni (2 boxes)
    Jar of tomato sauce (about 3 cups )
    1 cup mozzarella cheese (Stella is my favorite authentic-tasting brand)
    Pepperoni (I used three Sarah-sized handfuls. I promise you, your hands are bigger than mine.)
    3 TB olive oil (cheap stuff is fine)

    1. Cook rigatoni according to package directions for Al Dente firmness, drain and set aside.
    2. Drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of the pasta pot and add pepperoni slices. This releases the pepperoni’s flavor goodness into the oil and warms them through.
    3. Add the pasta to the pepperoni and stir to coat with the pepperoni and olive oil.
    4. Add the sauce and cheese. Stir until sauce evenly coats pasta and cheese is melted.

    You could make this dish more gourmet by dumping it in a baking dish, topping with additional mozzarella cheese, and baking it at 350F for 20 minutes or until the cheese is a beautiful golden brown. However, if daddy’s not home… it’s perfectly fine to spoon it right into bowls :)

    Serve with a side salad and a buttered piece of crusty Italian bread.

    “Thanks, Mom! This is awesome!” – Tabitha
    “Can my friend Ethan try this? I think he’d LOVE IT!” – Thomas
    “I like this spice, Mom. May I have some milk?” – Micah
    “Would it be okay if I had thirds?” – Leah
    “Tastes kinda like pepperoni pizza… only it’s pasta.” – Aiden