Simple Happiness. (Recipe)

I held off going to the grocery store for three days before today.  There were many things I needed, but I somehow managed to work around their absence through bizarre and random preparations from things I already had.  Sweet potato and tofu curry with shallots and a can of stewed tomatoes that I purchased on accident weeks ago was one of those meals.  I wouldn't call it a disaster, but it certainly wasn't something I'd care to reproduce in the future.

As procrastination usually goes, the day that I had to finally do what I had been holding off was an unforgiving one.  The sky was low and gray with storms that faded in and out.  The rain was hitting our windows with such intensity that I thought it was hail, lightning cracked through the darkness and thunder rumbled like a hungry stomach.

It took all day for me to finally get up the courage to run the kids out to the car during a welcome break in the weather.  Of course, between our house and the grocery store, the rain had returned worse than it was before.

I managed to get us all into the store with minimal dampness.  I unbuckled the kids from their carseats and pulled them to the front of the car.  I opened my umbrella and went into the rain, ran to the passenger side and scooped both the kids up.  Balancing a toddler and an umbrella in one arm and a purse and another toddler in the other, I rushed across the wet parking lot and got us inside with but a few raindrops on their precious little faces.

I found myself laughing at this point, at what I found to be my smartest moment of the day (pulling the kids into the passenger seat so I could grab them both at once - nothing genius, but still pretty good for a day where I used very little of my intellect) and what must have been an at least slightly comical view, a short woman shuffling through the puddles with two toddlers slipping out of her arms, her head obscured by an umbrella pressed against her forehead.

At that moment, I realized just how beautiful a day it was.

*     *     *

Meat and Potatoes.


Three or Four Yukon gold potatoes
Half a small head of savoy cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
Salt, pepper, butter/oil

About one and a quarter pounds of thin-sliced small steaks (really, any boneless cut you like)
Two large shallots, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1.5 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt, pepper, butter/oil


Peel the potatoes and cube them.  Place in a large pot and fill with water to about two inches above the potatoes.  Add about a half a teaspoon of salt, bring to a boil and cook until tender.  In the meantime, heat some oil or butter in a pan and saute the cabbage with some salt and pepper until just tender.  When potatoes are done, reserve one cup of the cooking liquid and drain them.  Return them to the pot, mash them gently using reserved liquid to thin them as needed.  Add cabbage and about a tablespoon of butter.  Cover to keep warm until ready to serve while you prepare the beef.

Cutting against the grain, slice the thin-cut steaks into strips and cook them in a single layer in a skillet with some oil or butter for about 30 seconds on each side.  You will probably have to do it in batches.  Lightly salt and pepper the steak after removing it from the pan.  In the same pan, add a little more oil and saute the shallots until lightly golden.  Add the flour and cook for about a half a minute to reduce the raw flavor.  Slowly add the wine and broth, then allow to simmer so it can thicken.  Add the mustard and the thyme, heat through for a moment.

Arrange slices of beef on a plate, pour gravy over top, and enjoy.

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"Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts." - Buddha