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Relationships

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The past couple of weeks have been a good reminder of how important relationships are in our lives. I was pondering this thought as we were snowed in as a family this weekend. Activities were cancelled, roads were not safe for casual driving and we had a pile of movies in addition to the big game to tackle. All five of my little nut-brown hares were nestled in the living room and getting along.

Through my and my husband’s careers we’ve had the good fortune to meet some amazing people in every county in this state. We were reflecting upon that with the snow falling and a nice lunch of grilled steak on our plates in our warm dining room. Many of our friends were out feeding livestock, breaking ice so their cattle could access fresh water and taking care of mommas who chose to birth their litters on this cold, snowy day. Insert huge thank you here!

We keep up with our friends on Facebook and enjoy following their activities and smiling at pictures they post of what their children are up to. We experience their loss of family members or friends who’ve passed as well as struggles they may be experiencing with health or everyday life. We value this tool called Facebook. But nothing is better than sitting down with friends in person to have a chat and catch up. We’ve made it a priority in 2015 to carve out time and, yes, even schedule relationship time with friends.

We seem to live in what’s called the “living life hour-by-hour” mode. Consider whatever tool you use to track your schedule--be it electronic, wall calendar or paper tucked in your pocket or purse. Take a quick look at it. Do you have things scheduled from the moment you pick up your kids at night until bedtime? Piano, dance, gymnastics, basketball, youth group, church choir, 4-H meeting and so on litter the little space between 5 p.m. and bedtime. I’m not saying I have a solution for this and not offering a magic potion to create more time in the evening.

Perhaps my point is simply to encourage you to slow down every now and then. My friend Sheryl MacNair had a great post on Facebook last week about relationships. She said, “Sometimes we get busy with life and we don’t take the time to stop, visit and check in with people.” She commented that we humans were designed to be in relationships. I agree. She also shared a recipe for chicken fried steak which I’m sharing with you!


Chicken Fried Steak

Source: Pioneer Woman

3 lbs. cube steak (tenderized round steak that’s been extra tenderized)
1 1/2 c. whole milk, plus up to 2 c. for gravy
2 whole large eggs
3 c. all-purpose flour
Seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Lots of black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
Salt and pepper, for both meat and gravy

Begin with an assembly line of dishes for the meat: milk mixed with egg in one; flour mixed with spices in one; meat in one; then have one clean plate at the end to receive the breaded meat. Work one piece of meat at a time. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dip in the milk/egg mixture. Next, place the meat on the plate of seasoned flour. Turn to coat thoroughly. Place the meat back into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat. Place back in the flour and turn to coat. Place breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with remaining meat. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. Cook meat, three pieces at a time, until edges start to look golden brown; around 2 to 2 1/2 minutes each side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm. Repeat until all meat is cooked.

Gravy: After all meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the pan, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup grease back to the pan. Allow grease to heat up. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix flour with grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Keep cooking until it reaches a deep golden brown color. If paste seems more oily than pasty, sprinkle in another tablespoon of flour and whisk. Whisking constantly, pour in milk. Cook to thicken the gravy. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until gravy is smooth and thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.

Serve meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!


Split Pea Soup with Egg

Serves about four.

2 c. green split peas
6 c. vegetable broth
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 carrots, chopped
4 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepot. Add onions and cook on low for 20 minutes, or until the onions have started to turn a golden brown color--do not burn them. Once the onions have caramelized, add split peas, carrots, broth and spices, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 35 minutes, until the peas and carrots are tender. Carefully pour soup into a food processor or blender and blend on high for a few seconds until smooth and pureed. You can also use a stick blender in the saucepot. Return soup to saucepot to serve. Top each serving with chopped eggs.


Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. uncooked wide egg noodles
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

In a 6-quart slow cooker add chicken breasts, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, thyme and bay leaf.

Then add chicken broth, water, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours. Remove cooked chicken breasts and cut into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken back in to the slow cooker. Add in egg noodles and parsley. Cover and cook just until noodles are tender, about 10 minutes.

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