Saturday, August 20, 2011

Steak and Gravy

When I want something delicious and comforting, steak and gravy is one of my go to recipes.  I've been eating this dish since I was a child, prepared by both my grandmother and mother.  It's simple food at it's best.  It doesn't pretend to be something it's not and the result is a savory, unpretentious plate of pure heaven served over rice.

First, you trim several pounds of round steak to your taste.  I prefer very little fat on my meat, so I trim heavily, but my mother would gasp and point out that cutting off the fat takes away some of the flavor.  I'm no health nut, but I don't mind sacrificing slimy fat even if it does add flavor!

Once the meat has been trimmed to your satisfaction, sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a heavy pot or large cast iron skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil and add meat to brown.

While the meat is browning, chop a yellow onion and set aside.

Continue to brown the meat until it's really brown.  This is what gives the gravy a nice, dark color and flavor.  When the meat is good and brown, and there are lots of little bits on the bottom of the pot, remove the meat.

Now add the chopped onion to the pot and stir until they are almost clear.  Add a few cloves of minced garlic about halfway through sauteing the onions.

Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add the round steak back the pot and stir for a few minutes.

Add enough water to just cover the meat.

Let the meat simmer for about an hour or until the meat is tender.  Keep checking because if you overcook the steak it will be dry.  I forgot to take pictures of the next part, but mix 1/4 cup of flour with 3/4 cup of water.  Remove the meat from the pot, and bring the broth to a boil.  Using a mesh strainer, pour the flour mixture through the strainer into the pot and whisk together quickly.  Allow the gravy to boil for a minute or two while stirring, then add the meat back to the pot.  Taste the gravy to make sure the seasonings are okay.  (I like to add a little cayenne pepper here)  If the gravy tastes "weak", you can add a teaspoon or so of beef bouillon.

And there you have steak and gravy.  I don't have picture of the final dish served over rice because I am serving it tomorrow as Sunday lunch, so I haven't made the rice yet.

I hope this will be a dish that you try and fall in love with.  It is one of the staple dishes in my kitchen, and I generally serve it over rice, with green beans and homemade biscuits.

Steak and Gravy

2-3 lbs round steak, trimmed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Water to cover steak
1/4 c flour
3/4 c water

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


I have this weight around my neck.  It has 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, one awesome fireplace and a backyard with two big pecan trees.  The house we left behind in Texas has been just one trial after another for us.  First we had no luck selling it for a variety of reasons.  Then we found a renter who, over the course of the last 10 months, has paid her rent on time exactly once.  We tried so hard to be understanding, because we knew she was newly divorced and on her own again for the first time in many years.  We waived late fees, and accepted excuse after excuse but then discovered that she had lied to us on several occasions.

Trevor received a text from her this past week informing us that she had moved out last weekend (3 months before her lease was up) because she just couldn't afford the rent.  We kind of figured that out since she hasn't paid her rent for the last two months.  Two months that we still had to pay the mortgage and the rent for our current home.  Two months of sending emails and texts with no replies.  Two months of eagerly checking the mail only to be disappointed.


Trevor sent her an email indicating what she owes us, and politely told her that we didn't appreciate the fact that she had sneaked out of the property and broken her lease.  She replied with a snippy email that basically said that she had a big orange U-Haul truck outside the house all weekend, so she hadn't sneaked out of the house since her moving activities were in full view of our in-law's house.

Really?  Unless I'm wrong (and I'm not), she did not sign a contract with my brother-in-law.  She signed a rental agreement with us, and even if Trevor's family was standing at the end of the driveway handing out cold water and sandwiches to them as they moved, she owed us the courtesy of a move-out notice.  In case she hadn't noticed, we live in Oklahoma and can't see her driveway from here.

A person who needs to get out of a lease, customarily submits at least a 30 day notice to the owners, not a text to say that they are already gone.  A person who isn't sneaky leaves a forwarding address to the owners of the property they vacated.  A person who is acting in a aboveboard, honest way would never move out and then disappear.

Needless to say, it's been a frustrating week for us and we would love nothing more than to sell the house and be done with it.  We're really tired of dealing with it long distance.  Trevor drove down to Dayton today so that he could make sure the house is clean and ready to either sell or rent.  He found a property manager that he is meeting with, and with any luck we can resolve this soon.

When Trevor told me what happened, I just felt sick to my stomach.  All I could think about was our savings and how much we would have to use to straighten this out, and how this means that I won't be able to go part time or even think about quitting my job in the foreseeable future.  I was angry at our renter and I  felt the burden of that house pressing in on me.

After allowing myself a few hours of self-pity, I began to feel a little ashamed of myself.  We are living in a beautiful home, my children are healthy and happy, I have a wonderful marriage to a man I adore.  We have friends and family who love us, and a God who holds us in the palm of His hand.  Despite our seemingly insurmountable problems, He has orchestrated it all from the beginning and knows how it's going to end.  All we have to do is trust that He is in control and that no matter what happens He is working for our good and His glory.

I find so much comfort in his sovereignty over my life.  It's not my inner strength or my "can do" attitude that will get me through this.  It's my complete and utter trust in Him.  I have to guard my heart and mind against worrying and fretting, because that time would be better spent in prayer and thanksgiving to the living God who commands my destiny.  Does this mean that we just shrug our shoulders and hope that everything just works out in the end?  Absolutely not!  We have a responsibility to be good stewards of our finances and property, so we clean up the mess that has been left for us.  But we don't do it with a defeatist attitude and a frown.

We are able to do it with joy, because we have peace.  It doesn't matter if our saving dwindles to nothing, and we have to give up some of our comforts until the house situation is resolved.  We have peace, and there is nothing in the world that compares.