Monday, February 21, 2011

Groovy Gravy and PEEPS

We woke up to 4 inches of new snow on the ground; my initial reaction to this announcement from Dan was mild. I was still half asleep and 4 inches seemed nominal in my woosy state.

When my alarm went off and I peeled myself out of the nice warm bed and peeked out onto the deck I found that a 4 inch layer of snow waiting for me to shovel was more than I had initially expected...ugh.

Dan usually shovels, but on days that we don't expect snow he doesn't get up early enough to complete this task, clear off his car, and still make it to work on time. I really don't mind; snow removal has become quite a nice workout for me during these winter months. I'll have some serious guns if we continue to have regular snowfall.

Later, when I went to clear Walter off for my market run I found that I had been peeped...yes...peeped!

In college my good friend and later roomie told me about a game they used to play in high school. Basically, whenever the peep chicks hit the on. In college we divided up into teams guys vs. girls. The idea being to "peep" the other team members (or their stuff) with marshmallow chicks without being caught.

You can accomplish this in a number of ways. The car (as seen in these 4 photos) is a great target, because you can easily peep the person with little risk of being caught if you know the person's general schedule. The top of the antenea is a fun spot, though I have seen them under door handles, stuck to windows, in tail pipes etc.

This having been said, I would not recommend this game for an immature crowd; the idea is good clean fun, not intentional property damage or malicious harm in any way. We have a good group of friends so it wasn't a big concern, and you always knew to do a full walk around vehicle check during peep week so you wouldn't end up with a melted peep mess.

Serious players will keep count of the peeps. If we were playing this way I would have to tally 10 against me. After a specified amount of time (typically 8 days...which includes 2 weekends) you tally all of your strikes and whichever team has less wins.

It may sound dumb to most people, but we really had a blast with it. You would be amazed at some of the crazy creative things folks came up with over the years. For example, junior year, some guy friends scaled our balcony (we were on the second floor), climbed through our kitchen window (which they cleverly unlocked earlier that week) and pretty much peeped our entire apartment. There were literally peeps in every cabinet, every get the idea...we found peeps for months!

Senior year, Dan and his friends built a "peep-a-pult" out of pvc pipe. He wired it to our apartment door handle so that when we opened the front door peeps would be launched at us (therefore contributing to our tally.)

Anyhow, Dan got me today; it was a sweet reminder of fun times in I love that guy...he knows how to melt my dorky little heart! that I have the time to make a real dinner, I often find it difficult figuring out what to make. Dan may seem easy to please but he is my harshest critic as well as my biggest supporter. Trying to keep things simple for him, I have been thinking back to what my mom used to make, which brings me to groovy gravy.

When I was in the fifth grade, my grandma unearthed a recipe that my mom had found in a magazine in the 1970's (title makes sense now right.) Mom gave it a whirl, and according to my diary (I've kept one since 2nd grade) it was "totally rad". Keep in mind, fifth grade was also the year that my friends and I sang "A Hard Day's Night" for the talent show at church; this might have had an affect on my love for this dish.

The presentation here is not the best, and maybe it needs more tweaking still but it has good flavor. It is one of those recipes that you can add a little of this or a little of that until it meets your taste. I am my father's daughter in this respect; the original recipe consisted of the first 3 ingredients listed served over rice. I added a bit of this and a bit of that (things I had in my fridge or pantry) until it had more depth of flavor. I would not doubt that dad probably tweaked this when I was a kid; maybe this is why I remember it being good!

Groovy Gravy
--1 pd ground beef
--1 can Campbell's golden mushroom soup
--1/2 cup Lipton onion soup mix
--1 medium onion
, finely diced
--1/2 cup cream cheese
--1/4 cup grated parmesan
--1/2 cup 2% milk
--1/2 cup beef/chicken stock or water
--2 Tbsps worchestershire sauce
--2 Tbsps blackstrap molasses
--1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
--1/4 tsp. red pepper flake
(or to taste)
--1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
--salt and pepper

1. Finely dice the onion (I used yellow because I had that on hand). Season the beef with salt, pepper, cayenne and red pepper flakes; Get your hands dirty and work the spices into the meat. Brown the beef and onion in a pan with a bit of olive oil.

2. Add mushroom soup and sprinkle on the onion soup mix. Stir; slowly add in the milk. Add cream cheese by tablespoons--thin out with stock as needed (mine was a bit thick without the stock).

3. Add the molasses, worchestershire and red wine vinegar. Taste; season with more fresh cracked pepper, salt, cayenne.

4. Serve over white rice. Note: I added butter and parsley to my rice after cooking for more flavor; it is a blank slate to do with as you please.

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