Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nothing better on a cold night than steak and gravy

Looks like we are going to get another round of 'global warming', starting.....now!  Since it's going to be a cold one, with lots of snow, wind and chilly weather, might as well cook something delicious.  Nothing like Country Fried Steak, with gravy, mashed potatoes, and steamed broccoli.  I know a lot of people turn their noses up to broccoli, but if you don't over cook it and add butter (everything tastes better with butter!) it's very good.  My little boy loves broccoli.  I always make more than I think is necessary, since my husband (who doesn't like anything healthy, but loves broccoli) and son eat it like it's going out of style. 
My Mom is a very good cook.  Probably because she's German, and German food is delicious.  Especially the candies and cookies.  Mom took me to Germany when I was in the eighth grade, to visit her mom, my Omi.  Omi is the German word for grandma.  One day we went into a town called Murnau to shop.  It's a wonderful little town, with neat little shops lining the street.  There was a restaurant there, called the "Wienerwald", and it was my favorite!  We had to go every time we went to Murnau.  I always ordered the same thing, a quarter BBQ rotisserie chicken. Yes, I ate the whole thing.  It was delicious.  As many years ago as that was, I can still see the chicken arriving in it's tinfoil shell, steam wafting through the crack in the folded foil top.  Opening it was like Christmas, there it was a BBQ chicken with perfectly crispy skin covered in BBQ seasoning.  My mouth is watering, but I digress.  One such visit, after a trip to the Weinerwald, we stopped into a bakery for desert.  Now, my Omi loved sweets.  Germany has many deliciously tempting treats along with the best chocolate in the world.  I know some of you like the other chocolates, but send me a better chocolate bar than the "Milka" bar and I'll eat my shoe (which won't be easy since I wear sheepskin boots this time of year).  Milka chocolate melts in your mouth, has a creamy chocolate flavor that tickles the tongue.  It's my favorite in the whole world!  That's silly, have you been through the whole world? some may ask.  Well, no, I haven't.  I have travelled extensively, as have many in my family, as well as having friends and relatives in different countries.  I would say I've tasted a great many chocolates in my time... just ask my skinny jeans, they'll tell you! Back to the story, so we are in a bakery and proceed to order.  One of this, one of that, one of almost everything. Pastry shells filled with pineapple whipped cream, drizzled with chocolate. Chocolate cake, lebkuchen cookies along with assorted pies and so on.  We sit down to eat our grossly weighted plates, when our pitcher of hot chocolate arrives.  My Omi was so embarrassed because we had lost all self control when ordering our dessert.  It's no wonder when I came back to America I was a chunky little thing.  Germany definitely agreed with my sweet tooth! 
There are two smells I remember vividly when I think of Germany, manure and candy.  Very different on opposite ends of the spectrum.  We were travelling to Uffing, where my mom grew up.  It was a very long trip from Virginia.  Horrible airplanes that dropped out of the sky like dive bombers when it was time to land. Taxi cabs, buses, and trains all included in our trip.  We had to stop in Frankfurt to change planes.  I remember getting off that awful plane, sick to my stomach, grumpy, tired and homesick.  We walked into the Frankfurt airport, welcomed by the scent of candy.  Not just any candy, Mamba fruit chews.  Oh, what comfort for a 13 year old girl. 
We sat in the airport until it was time to board that next lurching beast to continue our trip to Munich.  I would have gladly walked home by this time, however, I was pleasantly surprised by the Lufthansa crew.  It was like I was at home, being cared for by my Mom.  Yes, Mom was with me, but she couldn't get me crackers and ginger ale.  The stewardess could, and did.  I remember being so motion sick from all the other planes that I just let them fuss over me.  We finally landed in Munich to start the last leg of our journey.  We boarded a train that took us to *Uffing am Staffelsee. 
When time came to finally get off the train and walk, (yes, walk) into town, I was a zombie.  Soon I was awakened by the sound of horses hooves pulling a rumbling wagon along the road.  All of which was accompanied by the earthy odor of manure, LOTS of manure.  The whole town smelled like manure.  I was appalled.  I thought all of Germany smelled like candy.  Maybe, but not in the early spring when the farmers are putting fertilizer on their fields.  Once the shock wore off, it became quite, well, comforting.  Uffing being a small town with lots of farms, and me being a country girl from a place with lots of farms, yes comforting is the word.  After the fertilizing season passed, Uffing did indeed, cease to smell of manure.  That organic smell being replaced by the smell of candy. 
What does all of that have to do with Country fried steak and gravy?  It's my Moms recipe, that's about it. 

4 cubed steaks
1 lg. yellow onion peeled and sliced
1 cup plain white flour (more if needed)
1 1/2 tbsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
hot water 1 small jar of can of sliced mushrooms-juice and all
1/4 cup of heavy cream

In a large bowl, mix the garlic, salt and pepper
In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil until very hot
Place floured cube steaks into the oil (it should sizzle) and fry until golden brown on bottom; carefully flip the steaks over and drizzle with Worchestershire sauce (2-3 shakes)
Lay onion slices onto the steaks 1-2 slices
Add about 1 1/2 cups of hot water, put on the lid and reduce the heat to medium
Let them cook until the water is evaporated
When you hear the sizzle and the water is gone, flip them over again with the onions now on the bottom, add same amount of hot water again cover and let cook down to half the amount of water just added
Dump in mushrooms, juice and all, add mustard, taste adjust seasoning then add cream stir and enjoy!

Steamed broccoli:

Frozen broccoli florets
water to coat the bottom of sauce pan
1/4 stick butter
salt & pepper to taste

I don't use a steamer, so what I do is cover the bottom of my sauce pan with water, pour in frozen broccoli and cover. As soon as the water starts boiling I turned off the element and keep the lid on until the broccoli is a nice deep green color.  Then I add the butter, salt and pepper, put lid back on until ready to serve.  YUM YUM!

*picture fromhttp://www.uffing.org/luftbild.htm thank you! 

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