I wish the days were longer, or rather that it would stay daylight for a couple of hours longer. I wish that I was longer, like about 2 inches longer. I wish my house was longer–maybe about 4 feet longer…or 10 feet longer, but then it would also need to be wider in order to match the longer.
So many longer wishes.
We’re always full of wishes, probably; I am, at least. Despite all of my wishing, though, I make an effort to be grateful. It’s best to be more grateful than you are wishful. When I first started practicing being more grateful, it took some effort to think about the things in my life for which I was grateful. A few years ago when I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life, I would sit down each night and write about my day in my journal. I would include a list of things for which I was grateful…things like being able to hear and see my little grandson, or gratefulness that my washing machine worked, or gratefulness for shopping carts, or gratitude for the random person that smiled at me in the store.
When I am at work, it is easy to see many things for which I am grateful. A nurse is privy to lots of information about other people’s lives; sometimes it is great information and sometimes the information is very sobering. I walk fast at work and have to remind myself to slow down, especially when I am entering a patient’s room. Sometimes I forget to slow down and go zipping around my patient’s room. Once in a while a patient will make a wistful remark about how they wished they could walk fast. I tell them that I walk fast right now while I still can and that most likely my turn is coming for a hip or knee replacement and I’ll be just like them, wishing I wasn’t in pain and that I could move like I used to do.
When my daughter, Katie, was three years old she used to get so upset because she was three and not four. She would say, “I can’t wait to change to four.” Then finally one day it was her fourth birthday. I said to her, “Katie! You have finally changed to four!”. She was only happy about that for a minute or two and then she said, “Yea, but some people have already changed to five! Now I have to wait a whole year until I change to five.”
There is a woman with whom I work. She walks fast, too, but she is always smiling. (I am a very serious fast walker, always worried about getting this or that done on time or how I’m going to get 12 things done at once.) One day someone made a comment about their age and situation in life. They were the same age as my co-worker. My co-worker responded with, “Really? I am having the time of my life!” I looked at her and realized that she really was having the time of her life. Her’s is not a perfect life, but her perspective about her life makes her life good. Which reminds me, I need to tell you sometime about Marcia. I’ll have to devote a post to Marcia, one of my former patients from a couple of years ago. What an incredible woman. She deserves her own post.
Among the things for which I am grateful today is shepherd’s pie. It’s a very simple food, about as unfancy as you can get . It is completely unpretentious, which is great. Sometimes food gets so complicated and pretentious that we feel like we need to dress for dinner in our own homes. Jeans and a tee-shirt are perfect for eating shepherd’s pie. You can feel completely comfortable eating it out of mismatched dishes that are considered “rustic” because they have definitely seen better days. I mean, seriously…take a look at the pics, shepherd’s pie is all about taste, not looks. I even looked around the internet (AFTER I got all of my pics done) and only found a couple of pics that looked any better. Some clever people made their shepherd’s pie in cute little ramekins to add style to this dish. Sigh…sorta, kinda wish I had thought to do that.
I’ve made this version of shepherd’s pie with good ol’ basic ground beef. Traditional shepherd’s pie is often made with lamb. I’m not a fan of lamb. I’ve tried to like it, I really have, but it just isn’t going to happen for me. So, I am delighted to offer hamburger in this dish. John likes shepherd’s pie. He’s going to love this version of it. I didn’t really do much to change it, just enriched the flavors a little bit. I hope that you like it, too.
Despite the fact that the ingredient list looks a bit long, the dish really comes together fairly quick.
Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’
For the mashed potatoes:
- 6 medium potatoes (a russet-style potato is best)
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- salt, to taste
- grated sharp cheddar cheese, set aside to use as a topping for the potatoes
For the ground beef filling:
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon onion powder or granulated onion
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups diced carrots
- 1 cup frozen peas (these are added last, just before filling is put into casserole dish)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dry thyme
For the gravy:
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
For the mashed potatoes:
- Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Put in sauce pot and fill pot with cool water to cover the potatoes. Add salt, to taste. You will probably have to adjust the salt when you mash the potatoes.
- Bring the potatoes to boil and cook until fork tender. Drain well.
- Mash potatoes well. Hint: I use an electric hand mixer to make my mashed potatoes. I’ve always made mashed potatoes this way and it works beautifully.
- Blend in the cream cheese. Thin with a little milk, if needed. Taste and add more salt if needed.
For the hamburger filling:
- While the potatoes are cooking, make the hamburger filling.Begin by heating a large, deep skillet, then add the olive oil to the skillet.
- Add ground beef and break apart to brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, granulated onion, and granulated garlic.
- Cook hamburger and seasonings for 2-3 minutes, then add the chopped onions, chopped garlic, diced carrots, and the thyme. Cook covered over medium or medium low heat until carrots are tender. Stir as needed. This will probably take about 15-20 minutes.
- Set aside while gravy is made.
For the gravy:
- In a medium sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat.When hot and bubbly, add the flour.
- Stir flour and butter together until smooth. Cook, stirring frequently until mixture takes on a light tan color.
- Carefully and quickly stir in the beef broth. Be careful because the liquid will may spatter and stream will rise. It is necessary to stir quickly (I use a whisk) so that lumps will not form from the flour. If there are lumps, don’t worry about it. Break them up as best you can. No one will ever notice them in the final product anyway.
- Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and the seasoning salt. Cook and stir until gravy has thickened.
- Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
- Stir the gravy into the hamburger mixture.
- Add the peas and stir to distribute evenly.
- Cover the pot or skillet and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes so that flavors can blend.
- Lightly butter a 2-quart casserole. Spread 2 cups of the mashed potatoes in the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Pour the hamburger filling on top of the mashed potatoes. Spread evenly.
- Top with remaining mashed potatoes and spread potatoes evenly. Note: Check mashed potatoes prior to adding to the top of the filling. Thin with a little milk if necessary for easier spreading.
- Top with grated cheddar cheese.
- Place casserole dish on a lined baking pan to catch any spills from the hamburger filling while baking. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Cook’s note: You may notice in the picture at the top of the page that I topped the casserole with breadcrumbs. This, of course, is completely optional. I used 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons melted butter.