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 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 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.

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