Feb 25, 2009

Recipe for Pot Pie of Love

2 medium onions
1/2 cup butter, salted
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbl Herbs de Provence (or other mix - Italian mix will do)
1 Tbl Dried Tarragon
3 cups cooked chicken, torn into bite size pieces
16 oz frozen vegetables (your choice)
4 cups 2% milk
2- Your favorite recipe for pie crust, or refrigerated pie crust.

Optional: half and half , "Better than Boullion", sinful bacon or sausage fat

Turn oven to 350 degrees.

Dice the onion finely and saute in a dutch oven with 1/4 cup butter on high medium high till medium brown. The brown is where most of the flavor comes from. Yum. Then turn down heat to medium low and add other 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup flour and herbs. Cook mixture for another 3 min or so. Turn to medium heat and add veggies. When they thaw, add the chicken and then add milk till it covers solid food by about an inch.

Taste the sauce now for flavor. Add salt and pepper (or herbs) as needed. If your sauce doesn't have enough flavor, the pie will be boring. You can add anything here - mine didn't need anything on Valentine's day, but I like to use "Better than Bullion" chicken sometimes, and I suggested also some bacon or sausage fat if you have some. With the butter and milk already, I try to stay away from more fat, but sometimes for love we must make choices!

After you get the taste right, continue to heat on medium stirring very often till the mixture heats up and thickens. The flour is what makes it thicken, but it does it only when the liquid gets hot. When it it thickened, turn off the heat. You don't want it to boil or scorch.

I used a Pampered Chef large baking dish, but you can use any large dish you'd use for lasagna. My mom arrived for a visit on Valentine's day (Yay!) and she suggested I don't put a crust on the bottom of the pan, only the top. So I did.

Lightly spray the dish, pour the chicken mixture into your baking dish. Then fit the pie crust over the top of the chicken mixture, using 1 1/2 recipes. With the other half of the recipe, cut out heart shapes and place on top of crust. My loved ones fought over these later, "Mama gave me five hearts and you only got two!" Good times. Bake on 350 till crust is golden.

Serve with love, but ask them to share the love, not fight over it!

Feb 15, 2009

Chicken Pot Love-Pie

Recipe will follow. Love will too!

Feb 7, 2009

Anna Karenina

Tolstoy is one of those authors whose books literally weigh so much that many prospective readers will not even attempt his novels. So many characters dwell within those pages that many who attempt to read them are put off by remembering them, as well as all the permutations of those names. For instance, Princess Darya Alexandrovna may be referred to as Dolly, as Darya, as Princess, or many other ways....and you have to get used to that.

Those difficulties set aside, Tolstoy is so easy to read! His novels may be long, but they are easy reads, in sentence structure and in content. The action is easy to follow and the characters are very human.

Anna Karenina is a delight. It is set in the Russian Nobility during the second half of the nineteenth century. The main characters are contrasted in pairs. Both couples are sympathetically drawn, with strengths and weaknesses revealed in each individual. One of Tolstoy's critics describe his style as one of being able to make us feel the humanity of each character, sympathizing with each one. In these pairs, so much potential for their lives is clear...for their benefit or to their detriment.

Morality is a theme that is so engrossing in Anna Karenina. Tolstoy asks from whence comes morality? If it comes through a cultural set of values which is traditional and not heartfelt, then it is meaningless to those within the system. If morality is adopted as a result of faith, then it is meaningful and worth following. Morality ignored can lead to great suffering, which can lead to faith and adoption of morality. Requiring those around you to conform to your idea of morality without them first adopting the faith...leads to rebellion.

In Anna Karenina, the characters search for good things: lack of conflict, beauty, love, peace, faith, family, good reputation, faithful landownership, profitable landownership, reconciliation and forgiveness.

We find, through the trials and errors of the characters that these things, without the moral compass can go awry. Even selflessness itself can fail...as with Levin and his workers and with Vronsky's willingness to die to help his love, and even seen with Levin's association with his dying brother. It is only through faith (and faith in a Sovereign God) that these desires for selfless giving can become a success.

Another thing which interested me are the questions the characters face which are still worth asking today. For example Levin, a landowner, asks himself these things: How do you get employees to care about the work they do for you? Does giving them a share in the profits help? How can you get them to trust you? How can you be trustworthy? If you want to be a trustworthy employer, you have to understand their situation, their education and their desires. But how? Is education the answer? How could education as a gentleman be undesirable for the workers? desirable? What benefit is there for the wealthy to work alongside the workers? Does is breed contempt for the employer? Is it worthwhile even so?...it is clearly good for the employer to get out and do physical labor.
There are no simple answers. And each set of people are different, but the questions should be asked.

Is Anna Karenina a book worth reading for today's casual readers of Oprah book recommendations? Yes! If you like modern literature, try Anna too. (Just make sure you write down the various names of each character!

ETA: I just found out it is actually on Oprah's book club. Interesting!