Thursday, January 22, 2015

Extra Flaky Beef Pot Pie

First of all, all these measurements are approximate. Tailor as you see fit, please! The explanation is lengthy because so much of this depends on your taste and judgement, it's not that scary, I promise.   Also -enjoy!!

What You'll Need: 


-1 LB Cubes of Beef (Stew Beef, Chuck Beef for Skewers)
-2 Tbsp. Butter
-Onion Powder*
-Garlic Powder
-1 Cup Red Wine


-2 Cups Flour
-Pinch of Salt
-1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
-1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
-1/3 Cup Shortening
-1/3 Cup Cold Butter, Cubed
-6-7 Tbsps. Ice Water

Gravy and Veggies:

-1/4 Cup Olive Oil
-1 ½ Cups Beef Broth
-1/3 Cup Flour

*You could probably slice fresh onion in for better flavor, but some guy I cook for has allergies!
**A frozen veggie blend is fine, but only steam it for the half the time so veggies don’t turn into mush. 1 bag is sufficient.

What You'll Need to Do

Lightly spray a large skillet and melt butter in it over medium high heat. When butter is bubbling, add cubes of beef that have been patted dry.

Sear beef two to three minutes, adding seasoning according to your preferences. Flip beef, searing for another couple of minutes until all sides are browned.

Transfer beef to a new skillet, adding in the cup of wine. Cover and begin simmering. The beef will be simmering as you prepare the rest of the meal, so check back occasionally to stir it so that all sides have a chance to soak in the wine. Be sure to set aside the original skillet, extra seasoning, butter, and meat drippings intact. You’ll use all that later.

While the beef is simmering, prepare your crust as it will need to chill for at least a half an hour.
For the crust, combine flour, salt, and seasonings in a bowl. With a pastry cutter, blend in butter and shortening until the mixture resembles course meal. Slowly stir in ice water until loose clumps of dough form.

Don’t add extra water! With a little TLC, those loose clumps of dough will come together and form a flaky, delicate crust. Overworking or watering the dough will make it tough, chewy, or fragile.

Here’s the fun part. Dust your hands with flour (best to rings from fingers!) and begin pushing the dough into a ball. Flip it in the bowl, and keep pressing with your palms. 

Just keep doing this until a ball has formed and there isn’t a lot of flour or crumb left. Now press the dough ball until it is about a half an inch tall. Fold it in half, turn it, and press it out again. You’re basically making rough puff (check the end of this helpful article about the technique for pictures. You don’t need the rolling pin or pastry scraper for this crust, this is the Clint Eastwood of “rough” puff.)

Motivation to get you through :)

Once you’ve folded and pressed this dough to your heart’s content (or until it starts to resist the pressing) wrap it in cling film and refrigerate at least a half an hour.

Be sure to check back on your simmering beef as you start the veggies a gravy. Place raw veggies or lightly steamed frozen veggies in the large, used skillet with remaining fat and seasonings. Lightly douse with oil and cook over medium heat. Dust the veggies and pan with a thin layer of flour, stirring the flour in to create a ragged roux.

Pour in 1 cup of the beef broth, stirring it all together. Raise heat to medium-high and allow the gravy to bubble for 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat, allowing the gravy to thicken –really thicken, it should be too dense at this point.

Pour meat, remaining wine, and remaining broth into the gravy and vegetable skillet. Stir until gravy is desired texture. If it’s too thin, sprinkle a little extra flour, raise the heat for a few minutes, then reduce to low again.

In the meantime, divide your dough into nearly equal portions (one should be just a touch bigger!) Roll the bigger dough ball out to form bottom and side crust. You’ll see big patches of yellow or white striating the dough. Those will be scrumptious flakes soon.

Place crust in a pie tin. Scoop meat and vegetables into the crust, then pour on the gravy until it nearly reaches the brim of the pan (don’t overdo it or you’ll have a mess when it boils in the oven.)
Roll out the top crust, covering and using just your fingers to seal it. Slice a few vent lines in the top and place the pie tin on a baking tray.

Pop it in oven at 375 for 15 minutes with a crust protection ring (or a foil ring.) Remove ring and raise temperature to 400. 

Bake for ten more minutes, or until crust is flaky and cooked through.

Serve with a side of roasted potatoes  : )  Yum!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

When the Lord Providing Sounds Like a Fish Tale...

Oh, those weird moments when something not-so-crazy just strikes you as nuts and makes you laugh.

I was flipping through the Bible trying to decide what to read. Maybe it’s just me, but when I flip through, I skim and single lines pop out. This one made me burst into giggles:

“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah.”

That’s Jonah 1:17. You probably know the story. God told Jonah to do something, Jonah decided to go the opposite direction, a big fish swallowed Jonah and made him think twice about his current position with the Lord. After praying, Jonah was vomited out of the fish onto shore. Jonah went on to obey the Lord.

Here’s what had me laughing: provided. The Lord provided.

I hear those words a lot. I use those words a ton.

The Lord does provide. He provides all the time, faithfully, with good gifts and enough to get us through.

We say things like that the Lord provided in our time of need, or that He provided us great friends. His timing is a part of His providing, as are financial gifts, great conversations, books that speak to the soul, etc.

So I read the words “Now the Lord provided.” And then….”a huge fish!” Even crazier….”to swallow Jonah!”

Can you imagine saying that to someone? “Yeah, the Lord has really provided for me. He provided this traffic jam, or this long line at the grocery store….”

Okay, yes people say things like that. But it’s usually stuff like “thank goodness God provided by turning off my alarm, and because I was late for work I missed a fire in the office.”

In Jonah’s case, the Lord provided a fish to swallow Jonah whole…just to have him thrown up and to send him on to the last place he wanted to go. God’s provision was correctional.

That’s the kind of provision this verse is referring to. In Hebrew, this “provision” word is “manah.” It’s short definition is “appointed,” while words like “reckon,” “number,” and “count” are all associated. In its other uses, this word refers to the conscious action of putting something in place intentionally, or taking stock of something.

This word “manah” describes people being appointed into places of leadership, leaders being told to take stock of their people, God alone having put in place all the descendants of Abraham, and of course, God putting Jonah into the belly of a big fish.

What if the Lord provided you with a traffic jam on the way to work not to protect you from some worse incident, but to challenge your obsession with deadlines?

How about when that long line at the grocery store got you to notice an old lady with too many bags to carry…who you were then inclined to help…which annoyed you even though it was the right thing to do….?

The Lord’s provision for me, and for you, is at times more about putting us in the place He wants us –even for correction, taking stock of our obedience- than fulfilling our perceived needs. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trading for Treasure in Heaven

Saving money up is "easy." That is in quotes for other people with student debt and the like.

But really, the currency of our world, money included, is constantly being traded, used, and saved up.

Besides handing people paper and coins representative of currency, we talk about beauty as being valuable. We exchange favors. Being "nice" and "agreeable" can earn you a lot of things in life. So can being aggressive. Guilt can be a powerful persuader and a great way to get what you want. Karma is all about the currency of deeds.

What sort of currency do you deal in?

Sinful confession: personally, I tend to like the currency of "getting things done." My feeling accomplished is something I consider valuable and that I think other people can use. I'm willing to trade a lot to get things done- my time, my energy, (cough cough) my husband's time and energy...

If it's on my to-do list, no matter how silly, I'll give up a ton to get it done. Plenty of my friends have probably faced the cost before.

Living in the eternity that began the day I accepted Christ means trading in that currency, though.

As new creations whose citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20),  it is wise to trade the currency of this world for the currency of the Lord.

We know, after all, what happens to the things that we save up on earth. Matthew 6:19-20 tells us:

"“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

Interestingly enough, this verse in context comes after Christ tells people not to give to the needy, pray, or fast, in order to gain attention. Or, "as the hypocrites do," Jesus says. Doing "spiritual" things for worldly gain is just another way of trading God's currency for this world's -which doesn't last. Which dies out. Which is rendered useless in just a few years.

The currency of the Lord is what you lay up heaven. It's your treasure. And, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). 

Where is your heart? What deals do you make in your heart, what desires do you trade to fulfill?

Is it with the fruit of the Spirit that you obey the Lord, or with selfish ambition? Do you do your work unto the Lord? Or, are you doing it to get through the circumstances that (it's true whether or not you acknowledge it) God is sovereign over.

Admittedly, trading honesty back in forth in friendship doesn't earn you as many points in this world. Exchanging patience and sacrifices for aggressively accomplishing things doesn't often produce obvious, exciting results. Trusting the Lord to provide instead of trading your skills and your will in for financial security doesn't always seem like it pays off.

But your treasure is in heaven. The currency you trade for when you go to Christ, rely on Him, and crucify your sinful desires and understanding of how to survive this world's economy -that currency is piling up, glorifying Jesus, and keeping you active in God's economy.

His economy is a whole lot more gracious, worthwhile, stable, lasting, and satisfying.