“Do you have the balls to wear it?”

Looking out into Edinburgh.
View of Edinburgh from the castle, 2006

Dear Internet,

I am feeling out of sorts today primarily due to the bloodwolves have started sniffing around House Rabey, coupled with work pressure as this is the last week before the end of the semester. I have also been doing a lot of writing for work and profesh related things, so I need a break from looking at a computer screen for awhile. I thought instead of writing, I’d offer up more images from my grand adventures across the seas. As always, you can find more at this collection on Flickr.

Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Barcelona, 2004
Basildon Park (Netherfield).
Basildon Park (Netherfield in Pride and Prejudice 2005), England, 2008.
images 154
Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Italy, 2005.
Paris: May 2010
Paris, May 2010
Pimp your kot!
Pimp your kot!, Brussels 2010
"Do you have the balls to wear it?"
“Do you have the balls to wear it?”, Edinburgh 2006

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe:

practical uses for a bidet

Impersonation of dramatic monologue
My impersonation of dramatic monologue, Trevi Fountain, Rome, 2005.

Dear Internet,

TheHusband and I opted to head out to dinner when we got out of work Wednesday night (“Jesus Lisa! Why must every outing turn into a trip to Target?”). Over our plates of meat (after our trip to Target AND Staples), we ended up having a good discussion on writing. He says this compulsion of mine to over share my self-absorption is cheapening my talent (“You’re not writing for meaning, you’re writing to fill the space”), which lead into a conversation about what writing means as a whole, what it means to me and what I want it to represent. TheHusband is obsessed with CBC’s Writers and Company podcast which he uses as his basis for everything and anything when it comes to writing. So he judges me, fairly or not, to the quality of those who came before me but on a much grander scale.

TARDIS! No, just a police info box, Royal Mile, Edinburgh 2006
TARDIS! No, just a police info box, Royal Mile, Edinburgh 2006.

Unfair? It is my carrot to succeed. If HE thinks I can be as good as this person, then the world can grovel at my feet.

There are times when I am feeling choked upon the ground, unable to get out what it is I want to say in the manner that I need to say it. I’ve noticed the more stable I am feeling mentally, the less forthcoming the muse is. My purest power is when I’m manic, so it is a shame I cannot turn this disease on and off like a switch because if I could, I would make my life a whole lot easier.

Stonehenge
Stonehenge, 2008.

Trying to balance my own mental disability without drugs while living a full life while then attempting to use said broken brain for MOAR work is exhausting. And taxing. But especially exhausting. But I feel, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, as this is my life line and I cannot let go.

I do agree that not every day is like sunshine and rainbows around here, but my argument is neither is life. To wish for everything to be perfection is ludicrous. I live and thrive in the chaos and uncertainty of what exists here in this space. But I know not everyone is in agreement, but it should be remembered I am here for me and not for them. The fact you are reading this is a delicious bonus.

Corfe Castle.
Corfe Castle, Dorset, England, 2008.

As work is wrapping down for the semester before winter break, I’ve decided to make the next few days image heavy from pictures of my various romps around Europe while I get sorted on some kind of schedule and process for writing. A few days ago, I gave TheHusband a few short stories to edit which I heard some grumping about how much work said editing was going to take because the stories were that bad. It’s hard to swallow the imperfections, I want to believe everything is as it should be and just call it experimental. Rather, I will re-read the pieces, guffaw at the obvious problems and fix them.

In the interim, enjoy your trip to Scotland, France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

One of the many roads into the Red Light District, Amsterdam, 5 AM
One of the many roads into the Red Light District, Amsterdam, 5 AM. May 2010.
Interior, Pelgrom, Antwerp
Pelgrom Bar, Antwerp is a pub/bar/restaurant located in a medieval cellar in the Old City. The entire ambiance was fabulous as the entire place was lit by candles. May 2010.
Hammish, the hairy coo.
Hamish, the hairy coo. Highlands, Scotland, 2006.
We found a use for the bidet
Practical uses for a bidet while in Rome. 2005.
Marseille, 2004
Marseille, 2004
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity College, Cambridge, England 2012.

xoxo,
Lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe: 2008

To: Consume: Recipe – Guinness Steak Pie

Steak Pie! [I started writing this post Sunday morning, with the intent of having the text finished while the meat was simmering in the slow cooker and adding photos as the meal progressed during the day. I discovered, however, when looking for photos from past meals to add to the post that I had NOT uploaded half of my photos from my trip to Scotland. I spent a better part of the afternoon color correcting and uploading five days worth of images to Flickr, from a trip taken 4.5 years ago. Considering I also just recently uploaded the remaining photos from my 2008 trip to England, at this rate, I’ll get the rest of the honeymoon pics up in 2013.]

In the early summer of 2006, several friends of mine and I travelled to Scotland for two weeks of Scottish bliss. Nearly every night during our stay, we would top our day off with a trip to Haymarket Pub, New Town, Edinburgh and after the pub, a trip to the local fish/chips/pizza/kebab/burger/chicken place.

haymarket2

At Haymarket, our home away from home away from home, we flirted with the staff, taught the bartenders how to make black’n’tans and lemon drops and ate at least one meal there a day. Our favorite meal, by far, was their Guinness Steak Pie served with mashed potatoes and peas.1 Darcee and I were so enamored of the meal that upon our return to U.S., we set to work on figuring out the recipe. The summer of 2006, in my itty, bitty kitchen on Norwood Ave., during an incredibly hot summer in which I also did not have A/C, we worked out the recipe and after a few tries, found an ingredient list that works.

In the nearly five years since our trip, I usually make Guinness Steak Pie once a season and usually timing it with a birthday or some sort of celebration. The meal, due to the cost and amount of beer and meat involved, can be fairly expensive2 and because the process can take several days, also very time consuming. To make Guinness Steak Pie, thus, involves planning and giving up your kitchen to a higher good for a few days. In the end, it is totally worth it.

Also during those five years, I have been the only person who has known the recipe from start to finish. I’ve hoarded the recipe close to my chest like crazy lady because it was a great trump card to entice people to visit or woo them if we just met. Plus it was also my “thing”! Everyone has a “thing” and mine was/is Lisa and her Guinness Steak Pie! When TheHusband and I started dating again, I wooed him with Guinness Steak Pie. When he would return to home to California after visiting me, he apparently bragged to his roommate about the deliciousness that is Guinness Steak Pie. Said roommate would ask for the recipe, TheHusband would ask me for it, I would say no and then TheHusband and I would get into an argument about the ideas behind freedom of information. He argued, and I do agree with, that information should be freely available.

Unless it’s Guinness Steak Pie and in that case, the rest of the world can go fuck itself. 🙂

Over the course of the last few years, as TheHusband and I would argue back and forth on this topic, I realized that hoarding the recipe AND then claiming to be a proponent of freedom of information was getting a bit ridiculous, so I decided that I would publish the recipe the next time I made it. And to be fair, I did parcel out the recipe to friends outside of the continental U.S., if that counts, which to me it does.

The pie can be cut into four large pieces or six normal sized pieces, served with mashed potatoes and accompanying gravy and a veg on the side. We recommend the veg to prevent scurvy. So here we are. Links in recipe to images on Flickr illustrating that step. Also consider this a rough draft of the presentation of the recipe since it’s done from memory. Corrections/edits will be notated when necessary. Please email or comment with suggestions/additions.

Guinness Steak Pie
Ingredients (Makes 1 pie.)
3lbs of beef roast
2 bottles of Guinness Extra Stout
1 packet of dried onion soup mix
2 Tbls corn starch
Water
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Pastry dough for top/bottom crust
nRed skin potatoes
Butter
Sour cream
Milk
Veg (to prevent scurvy)

Step 1
Marinate beef roast in liquid from 2 bottles of Guinness, in the fridge, for a minimum of 12 hours. Recommend using a gallon sized bag and double wrapping the bag to prevent leaking. Meat should be submersed in the beer for best results so make sure meat is laid flat on the shelf.

Step 2
After minimum time marinating, transfer meat and beer into slow cooker. Add enough water to the beer mixture to cover the meat. Then add 1 packet of dried onion soup mix to the mixture. Turn slow cooker onto low for minimum of 8 hours. See notes for additional options.

Step 3
nOne hour before meat is done (minimum 7 hours), pull pie dough out of fridge to warm to room temperature. Clean and cut red skin potatoes for cooking. Transfer potatoes into a pot, with water to cover, onto stove.

Step 4
Preheat over to 400F.
Turn heat on under potatoes on stove to bring to boil.
After minimum of 8 hours, turn slow cooker off.
Line 9″ deep dish pie plate with bottom crust.
Pull roast from slow cooker onto a plate and shred. Pile shredded beef into pie plate.

Step 5
Pour liquid from slow cooker into a pot.
Turn on medium heat.
Add cornstarch to water to form liquid consistency then add to gravy mixture on stove.
nHeat until gravy thickens.

Step 6
Cover meat pie with gravy. Please note there will be EXTRA gravy left over, so you will not use it all.
Add top crust and vent crust, then put into pre-heated oven for 15-22 minutes until crust is golden.

Step 7
While pie is baking, potatoes should be done. Mash redskins with butter, milk and sour cream.
Heat up veg of choice (to prevent scurvy).

Step 8
Pull pie out of oven and let sit a few minutes.
Cut into 4-6 pieces.
Serve with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy.

Enjoy.

Notes

  • The magic minimum time for marinating the meat is 12 hours. More is better, less doesn’t work as well.
  • The minimum slow cooking time is 8 hours on low, or 4-6 hours on auto then on low for remaining time. I’ve had it hang out in the slow cooker for up to 10 hours on low and have had great results, but minimum is 8.
  • 3lbs of roast will fill a 9″ deep dish pie plan with room for gravy.
  • I’ve made the pie with expensive AND cheap cuts of meat, with the same results. It was pointed out to me that the idea of marinating meat is not only to flavor the meat but to tenderize it, therefore cut of meat is irrelevant.
  • We’ve done pie dough by hand AND pre-made. Both work equally well.
  • The pie will keep in the fridge for a few days, but does not freeze well.
  • You could alternately put the cornstarch in with the meat while it’s slow cooking and make the gravy that way instead of doing it separately.
  • I also should note that a vegetarian friend has made this, swapping the beef for portabella mushrooms, and said it came out deliciously awesome.

1. I have yet to find a reasonable explanation for the Scots and their obsession with peas as evident by their serving it at Every. Single. Meal. The exception to that rule seems to be peas were of the mushy variety, of which I was able to track down cans of here locally in the summer of 2009.
2. This time around, roast was running at about $4/lb so it was $12 USD for the meat and $9 for the beer for a single meal, not including other ingredients.