Lord, Give Me Strength

Hello.  It is my lunch break, and I have been sitting here perusing Amtrak vacations.  Have you ever traveled by train?  I have not.  I want to go on an overnight train trip in a sleeper car.  It is one of many bucket list items.  I have been on many many road trips, but I think it would be fascinating to see the country from the rails rather than the highways!  Who knew that Amtrak had so many vacation packages to choose from?  I always thought of them as a means to get from one place to another with no entertainment in between–sort of like Greyhound.

I have also spent a good part of my day in my office praying for peace and the ability to let things roll of my back.  It has been somewhat successful.  I have only vented once, and I have so far choked zero people.  So, yay me!  I take my victories where I can get them.

Apparently the dreaded “s-word” is rolling in to our area as we speak.  That being SNOW.  Holy moley.  I live in the south.  We are not well equipped to handle snow.  Folks here simply do not know how to drive in icy weather.  And, we have very little in the way of winter weather wardrobes.  But, I am looking forward to it.  I love the hush that comes over the earth when blanketed by snow.  I love how the crystals twinkle in the tree branches.  Ah, peace!

Anywho.  I hope you all have a great day.  Stay safe & warm!

Peace and Amtrak train grease!

Song of the day:

Christmas Eve/Sarajevo (aka Carol of the Bells) by Trans Siberian Orchestra.  My absolute all-time favorite Christmas song.  If you have never seen them perform live, DO IT!  Put it on your bucket list right now.  There is no way to describe the feeling of the music pulsing through your body when standing before the stage.

Recipe of the day:

Beef Pot Pie (the made-from-scratch-it-takes-forever-but-it-is-worth-it version) via http://www.gooddinnermom.com

Ingredients
  • 1 (2 pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil, divided
  • 4 ounces mushrooms (baby bellas also called creminis or white button if unavailable), trimmed and quartered
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine, or ½ cup water
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 (9-inch) store-bought pie dough round or your own made-from-scratch pie crust
Instructions
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350F degrees. Pat beef cubes dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1½ tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook until well browned all over, about 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer the beef to bowl or plate with the remaining uncooked beef.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining 1½ tablespoons oil to now-empty pot. Add mushrooms, onion, and carrots and cook until vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in wine (or water) and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour until the vegetables are well coated and cook for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire, and bay leaf, stirring until combined. Scrape any bits that have stuck to bottom of pan to incorporate into liquids. Add beef and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook until beef is tender, about 1¼ hours.
  4. Remove filling from oven and taste the beef to make sure it’s tender to your liking. If it tastes chewy, add ¼ cup water, stir and return to oven for another 20-30 minutes. Once meat is tender, remove and then increase oven temperature to 400F degrees. If the meat mixture looks to need more “juice”, then remove mixture from pot to a plate and add ¼ to ½ cup water back to the Dutch oven and kind of tilt the pan to scrape off some of the crusty fond that’s accumulated in the pot. This should create a thick meaty sauce to add into the meat mixture and thin it out a bit, plus it only adds to the flavor of the beef.
  5. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the fresh thyme and add the peas. Taste the filling and add salt and pepper to taste at this time (up to 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper).
  6. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and add meat mixture to the dish.
  7. Brush the rim and interior lip of the pie plate with egg (this will prevent the shell from sticking to the dish and cracking or breaking). Top the filling with pie dough so dough overhangs edges of pie plate only slightly. Fold overhanging pie down inward so folded edge is flush with inner edge of pie plate. Crimp dough evenly around edge of pie using your fingers.
  8. Using a paring knife, cut a ½-inch hole in center of pie. Cut six ½-inch slits around the hole, halfway between center and edge of pie. Brush dough with remaining egg. Season the top of the dough with salt, pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon chopped thyme. Transfer pie to rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown, 20-30 minutes.
  9. Transfer pie to cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.

Book of the day:

Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Image result for saving honeycutt

I just finished this book today.  Excellent read.  It is the sad and funny and overall very heart-warming story of Cee Cee Honneycutt, whose mother is mentally ill and whose father is largely absent.  If you’re an audiobookphile like I am, you may recognize the narrator’s (Jenna Lamia) voice from Moon Over ManifestThe Fame Game series, the Velva Jean series, The Help, the Shiver series, etc.  I’m a fan, if you can’t tell.  I gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads.

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