Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Celebrating A Statesman's Birthday

If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately.  

Benjamin Franklin 
to one of my favorite statesman and an ingenious inventor, Benjamin Franklin. He was born in Boston in 1706. After he retired from the printing business in 1749, he turned his attention to science and inventions. He had already invented a safer, heat-efficient stove - called the Franklin stove - which he never patented because he created it for the good of society. He also established the first fire company and came up with the idea of fire insurance. His credentials just go on and on; consider this... 
  • Franklin was a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He had a lifelong love of swimming that began during his childhood in Boston. One of his first inventions was a pair of wooden hand paddles that he used to propel himself through the Charles River, and he wrote of once using a kite to skim across a pond.
  • He spent his later years as an abolitionist. Franklin owned two slaves during his life, both of whom worked as household servants, but in his old age he came to view slavery as a vile institution that ran counter to the principles of the American Revolution.
  • His fame soared to new heights after his arrival in Paris. Franklin capitalized on the French conception of Americans as rustic frontiersmen by dressing plainly and wearing a fur hat, which soon became his trademark and appeared in countless French portraits and medallions. Women even took to imitating the cap with oversized wigs in a style called “coiffure a la Franklin". 
  • Franklin designed a musical instrument used by Mozart and Beethoven. Among Franklin’s more unusual inventions is his “glass armonica”, an instrument designed to replicate the otherworldly sound that a wet finger makes when rubbed along the rim of a glass. He made his first prototype in 1761 by having a London glassmaker build him 37 glass orbs of different sizes and pitches, which he then mounted on a spindle controlled by a foot pedal. To play the instrument, the user would simply wet their fingers, rotate the apparatus and then touch the glass pieces to create individual tones or melodies. The armonica would go on to amass a considerable following during the 18th and early 19th centuries. Thousands were manufactured, and the likes of Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss all composed music for it. Franklin would later write that, “Of all my inventions, the glass armonica has given me the greatest personal satisfaction.”
With these stellar credentials certainly Franklin needs a worthy dish to mark his special day.  How about...  
Guinness Shepherd's Pie for Two 
Mashed potatoes, ground beef, and veggies, all cooked with Guinness beer. This is comfort food at its finest—and all in one neat pie. Luckily with this dish, comfort food doesn’t have to mean calorie bomb. Use lean ground beef and low-fat cheddar to slash even more calories and sneak in some extra vegetables if you feel like it
Although this recipe is made for two, it can easily be doubled for a family of four. The cooking time and directions may seem long, but you can make the mashed potatoes while the meat mixture is cooking. A time saver using instant mashed potatoes.  Recipe adapted from ChocolateMoosey.com 
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 small onion, chopped (roughly 1/2 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced chunky tomatoes garlic and basil 
  • 2 cups fresh vegetable medley (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans) 
  • 1/2 cup Guinness Draught beer (it's milder in flavor)
  • 1 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence 
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (low sodium) 
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped (roughly 2 cups)
  • 4 TB. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup 2 % milk
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (low fat)
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the potatoes. Let this heat up while you cook the meat mixture.
  • In a large skillet, cook the beef until browned. Crumble and set aside and clean pan. 
  • In same pan heat oil, saute onions and garlic. Add in fresh vegetable medley, cover pan and sweat veggies for 10 minutes.  
  • Add in can of chunky tomatoes, cooked meat, Guinness, Worcestershire sauce, and herbes de Provence. Cook uncovered about 10 minutes. Add the broth and bring back to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy.
  • While the mixture is cooking preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have two mini casserole dishes ready.
  • By now the water from step 1 should be boiling. Add the potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft but not mushy. Drain and cool. Mash the potatoes either by hand or with a mixer. Add the butter, milk, 1/2 cup cheese, parsley flakes, salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Once the mixture is done cooking and the potatoes are mashed, divide the meat mixture between the two baking dishes. Top with mashed potatoes then top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

1 comment:

  1. You taught me a lot about Benjamin Franklin today.

    The Shepherd's Pie is the ideal comfort food for us Minnesotans this time of year. I wish I wasn't trying to eliminate potatoes from my diet.