Thursday, September 13, 2012

Autumn Shepherd's Pie with "faux" Mashed Potatoes...shhhhhh










Have you been out there?  Have you?

Have you breathed in the fresh cool air that is sweeping over the country?    

One can't get too much more southern than here but we've had a day or two when the humidity is lifted as if a huge sheet is thrown up and fluttered over a gigantic bed.





Everyone!  And I mean everyone flocked outdoors to celebrate our first few days of relief from the perpetual humidity of a southern summer.

It's days like those we've had recently when I see such a wonderful sense of community develop in this area.  We live in an area of Houston that is populated with the highest number of Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and Buddhist families in the U.S.  We are all living house to house, shopping at the same markets, attending the same museums, and walking the same paths around our neighborhood.





I can go out and about during my day, from the market to  here and there...and never hear a word of English spoken.

It's amazing really. I think of how many stories my kids and I have read of immigrants coming to America during the 1800's and 1900's looking for a better world, a promise of opportunity, or a respite from persecution.

When I walk around my area of town, I see a modern day history of the world being written right in front of me...in the 21rst century.




The air was so breezy and cool the other day, I went on my daily run with such pep and zeal that I must have looked a bit silly.

The benches where the elderly men meet each evening babbling away in a language I cannot understand were full of laughter and comradship.  They wave to me every day..and "root" me on my run as I shuffle by.  This day, they all waved to me with big toothless grins on their faces.  It was obvious, they too were enjoying the sweeping breezes and happily noted the pep in my step.






The Chinese couple that practice their t'ai chi movements on the edge of the pier overlooking the lake always make me feel calm and peaceful when I jog past them.  

The winds billowed their clothing as their soft graceful movements flowed evenly against the blowing leaves that swirled around them.  Perhaps they were acknowledging the relief we were all celebrating...in our own way.




There is this one Chinese grandpa that always takes his grandson out for a walk around the lake and on the trails.  That day, the little boy was running more freely than usual, with his arms outstretched laughing at the wind.  Grandpa was trying to keep up with him but when I passed him, he had a huge grin of happiness on his face.

What are their stories, I wonder?  Where did they come from before arriving in this American suburb of Houston?

My kids and I read the news like everyone else.  
We see the hate.  
We see the violence.  

But we see nothing but commonality around us here as we all live day after day trying to be happy, safe, and successful in this life.

Why does the world have to be so rocked with turmoil?   Why can't it be like the vision that I see on days like this when everyone, regardless of religious affiliation,  wants to share in the same joy and happiness that we, as humans, all desire? 





Will there be an end someday?  Or, will the history chapters of colonization, resource depletion, and cultural misunderstandings continue to write ugly, horrible futures that our children's children will be reading in the future history texts?





If I could, I would make a huge neighborhood "Shepherd's Pie" and share it with all of the people that I see every day...

I cannot understand their words.
I cannot fathom their histories and struggles.
I cannot know their hopes and dreams.

But the smiling faces that I see as we are all passing one another and celebrating together the beauty of impending fall...warm my heart, bring me hope, and give me strength.









Autumn Shepherd's Pie with 'faux' Mashed Potatoes...shhhhhh
(from Paleo Comfort Foods blog)

1 tbs. coconut or avocado oil
4-6   cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2  pounds (900 g) ground lamb
1  pound (450 g) ground grassfed beef
2  cups (300 g) onions chopped
2  cups (250 g) carrots, peeled and sliced
2  stalks celery, chopped
1  tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
2  teaspoons dried thyme
1  small can (6 ounces) tomato paste
2  tbs. balsamic vinegar
2  tbs. Worcestershire sauce
6  cups (1½ L) Mashed Cauliflower

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

2. Heat a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Once hot, stir in the garlic, being careful not to burn.

3. Add in the lamb and beef and stir, combining with the garlic. Cook until the meat is browned.

4. Remove the lamb/garlic mixture from the pan, then add in the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and thyme.

5. Cook until onions are translucent and carrots and celery softened.

6. Add the meat mixture back into the pan, and stir in the tomato paste, balsamic, and Worcestershire and bring to a simmer. Simmer until any residual liquid is evaporated.

7. Pour meat/vegetable mixture into a 9″ x 13″ (23 cm x 33 cm) baking pan, and with a rubber spatula spread a layer of the Mashed Cauliflower over the top, forming a solid layer of the mash.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the mashed cauliflower is slightly browned on top.







39 comments:

  1. Your post are always beautifully written and thought provoking - thank you! and what a wonderful shepherd's pie - I LOVE the cauliflower topping!
    Mary x

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a beautiful post Sarah. Sadly, hate is rife in the world. On a different note, the humidity is lifting here too so I can understand your excitement. So I can totally understand the pep in your step.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, Loree, I've missed you...so I'm coming over for a visit!

      Delete
  3. Your words are so beautiful, and I love the image of you running gleefully through the city and people cheering you on. I've lived in Houston and I totally know that feeling of relief when things cool down just a smidgen.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I look so forward to Shepherd's Pie as the weather cools, unfortunately it hasn't quite cooled down here yet...I'm putting this on the roster for the first nippy day, thanks Sarah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had 2 days of glorious nippiness...and then the humidity crept back in with a vengeance. I am armed and ready with so many fall soups, stews, and roasts!!

      Delete
  5. Such beautiful thoughts and words. It was like I was with you jogging in your community! I never had Shepard Pie and I can wait to try your version.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Houston is a wonderfully diverse place isn't it? That's one of the best things I like about the city. And yes, thank the heavens for the cooler weather at long last

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an interesting first month at U.T. Rooth! Campus wide evacuation and all! All turned out well and the kids made an adventure out of the day. A group ended up at someone's house whose Indian grandmother made an entire meal for them!!

      Delete
  7. Yum. I know I would love that mashed cauliflower! What a scrumptious looking autumnal dish!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Betsy, it was amazing how much the cauliflower mimicked the actual taste and texture of potatoes!

      Delete
  8. Love the idea of a global..communal shepherd's pie - one in which each and every nationality and religion could melt in. Sounds like your 'neighborhood' is magical! Love this post - in every which way!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a fascinating neighborhood, indeed! I forget that the rest of the country doesn't have this kind of cultural diversity...restaurants abound in every ethnicity!

      Delete
  9. Cauliflower topping - what an interesting twist, I would love to use it. You are very talented writer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You would be amazed how much you don't miss the potatoes! The texture and flavor are very close.

      Delete
  10. Your comments reminded me of the movie "House of Sand and Fog". Essentially all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity and so on, desire the same thing, peace, happiness and love. It's so sad that politics, intolerance and hatred toss a wrench into what would otherwise be the dream of most people on this earth. What's sadder still, is that so many innocent victims are involved.
    Very nice recipe, never would have thought of cauliflower for the topping. It'll have to wait for cooler weather. Right now it's 7:30 p.m. and 102F.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I take all movie recommendations! I'll put this one in my Netflix queue for sure... Thanks Christine!

      Delete
  11. Love the use of cauliflower instead of potato!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This looks so delicious! I love sheperd's pie. Your photos are seriously amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your last few posts have been low-carb heaven...which is fab because I try to be carb-aware (for the lack of a better term) 5 days of the week :) This is marvelous and cauli mash is one of my all time favorite things in the world.

    It's such an excellent and healthful topping for that marvelous flavorful meat.

    It's so sad that as a people we can't seem to get along in the sandpit. And unfortunately rife seems to be part of human history. But I think you're doing your bit when you step into thee world and see the beauty in it - that makes you special Sarah & that's why what you're doing here matters :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandpit indeed. How many times I look/read world events and think, "It's like unruly children who can't get along on the playground!!" Or SANDPIT! Coming over for a visit soon Devaki!

      Delete
  14. What a gorgeous post! You really do have a way with words, Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John, and so do you...but I would love to have a "way with travel" like you do!! Love your travel photography.

      Delete
  15. Beautiful writing and wonderful photos! soup looks delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love this post and your open spirit, Sarah. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with such generosity -- and for the (finally fall) recipe! Pureed cauliflower is one of my favorite things to eat.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Delicious pie!
    I love this.
    Beautiful post Sarah.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a great idea to use the cauliflower instead of the potatoes! I'm gonna try this and see if anyone in my family notices. Lovely photos!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Lovely. We should appreciate the diversity. I am so glad the cool weather is on its way. So we can make more substantial and warm foods like yours :)
    Beautiful pictures again. Always so nice to come around here and savor your pictures :)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Wow,look delicious.Thank you for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi there. This week's Food on Friday is all about lamb! So it would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . Have a good week.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks for linking this in. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  23. This recipe looks wonderful. A possibly odd question for you... where did you get that glorious mini metal pot?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anne, I picked up that little copper pot when I was on a family trip to southern Missouri. The area is filled with antique stores and I try to "visit" several each time we go back home. The antique stores are all around the Springfield area of Missouri.

      Delete
    2. I've got an awesome produce stand down the street which has started hawking wares from the antique store next door. There are now about a dozen antique copper pots and pans hanging from their ceiling...I'm determined to collect them all.

      Delete

How wonderful to hear from new friends...