Beer and Bourbon Shepherdess Pie with Roasted Carrots

Warning: You are not about to view the best photos of food on the Internet. You may, however, be witnessing the best photos of food on the Internet taken at night, with a borrowed iPhone, during a dinner party for 10 adults and seven children.


What you can’t seen in the above picture are 16 hungry guests, patiently waiting to pray (and eat!), while I took that picture. They really deserve a round of applause.

Regardless, although the pictures of the Shepherd’s Pie (renamed “Shepherdess Pie” by my friends) may not be anything to write home about, the actual dish was. Chris pronounced it one of my all time greats, and the rest of the guests at my Monday night dinner party seemed to concur. Continue reading

Lamb Biryani

Last month marked the thirteenth anniversary of my move to Steubenville. I was only supposed to be here for two years…three tops. God, however, had other plans.

When people ask me why I haven’t left yet, I usually tell them,  “I have many sins for which I need to atone.” I’m only half joking.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to love in this rusty, corrupt, polluted old town. There are beautiful babies and beautiful families; holy, generous, souls, who give more of themselves to God in a day than I’ll likely give in a lifetime; and brilliant scholars, who see the truth of the world more deeply than I’ll ever see it. There’s real friendship and real community, here. There also are $600 mortgages for 4 bedroom homes.

I’m not entirely sure which would be the harder thing to leave: the community or the real estate market.

So, that’s what Steubenville has. What it doesn’t have is beauty…and…culture….and clean air. It’s also seriously lacking an Indian restaurant. For me, this is almost as big a problem as the chewy water. Accordingly, in order to keep my sanity about me, I’ve learned to satisfy my cravings for Indian food in my own kitchen. And if I do say so myself, the results of my effort aren’t half bad.

Serving Sun

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Lamb and Sweet Potato Stew

In my family, the men cook. At least most of them do. My brother-in-law Andy can’t boil water (or so my sister Annmarie claims), but the rest know their way around the kitchen, including my dad.

Mind you, that wasn’t always the case. When my sisters and I were little, our mom worked the occasional evening shift in a local bookstore. On those nights, Dad’s answer to the dinner question all too often involved eggs and pancakes. Our response to that menu, just as often, involved tears. To this day, none of us want anything to do with breakfast for dinner.

With time, however, Dad’s culinary skills improved, and a few years back, when I was home visiting, Mom went out for the evening and he whipped up a lamb and mushroom stew for us. This time, there were no tears.

Since then, I’ve played around with Dad’s original recipe quite a bit, including nixing the canned mushrooms (sorry Dad) and adding spiced sweet potatoes. Now, when the windows start to frost over, I head to the store in search of inexpensive lamb.

Last week, the windows did this:

Frost FR


Hence, lamb was on the menu.

The great thing about this stew is that it seems impressive. After all…lamb. But it’s actually a ridiculously simple dish. Also, if you find lamb shoulder on sale (which I did—thank you, Kroger), it’s as cheap as it is simple, making it a natural choice for a winter dinner party…or an easy family dinner. The groceries for the stew came in at just under $10. If there weren’t tomatoes in the freezer (put up from last summer’s garden), it would have cost $12.

Shrooms FR

Meat FR





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