All of the Above

Archived | October 14, 2015 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It had been a good week of work outside, all those fall chores I rather like. Feels good to work hard, and Mr. S took off for San Antonio to do a talk called “The Four Doors to Happiness” while I’m here considering an afternoon at the grocery store this weekend and perhaps borrowing the neighbor’s shotgun to blow out the smoke alarms which went off at 3 a.m. this morning, all 11 of them, for no reason whatsoever. They just did, and there I was – stunned into consciousness – standing on bar stools wearing one of Mr. S’s flannel shirts, scrambling to get the battery out of each and every blessed alarm, and I did, and there was silence awhile, and sometime around 4:13 there was a series of loud PEEPS but that was all and now that’s on the list, another thing to figure out, and it will get done, because everything does, in time.

I got to thinking as I pulled those batteries that it would be mighty nice if I could be in San Antonio talking about happiness and Mr. S could be hear dealing with house issues. It was a fleeting thought, though. He’s doing what he loves, and I love doing my thing, and I can share my own thoughts on happiness while I’m loading up on baking supplies, and visiting the floral shop and the Farmer’s Market. Or I can simply feel it.

What Mr. S says is that a person can do four things and happiness will become not inevitable, but more likely: express gratitudes; name your not-happy feelings; make a decision and stick to it; and experience touch — both giving and receiving. Well, I’m all in favor of all of the above, and they all seem, really, like common sense to me. What doesn’t seem like common sense is the crazy search for happiness so many people hurl themselves into for so much of their lives. So much energy spent looking for something that is, if you sit quietly in a room, right there inside of you. Doesn’t have much to do with what you acquire, or how much money you have, or who you know. It’s more about how you walk through the world, how you meet challenges, how you feel in your body, what you notice in a day.

Mr. S. is no expert, and neither am I. But I can tell ya what I know, and what I know is that happiness is like the sun. It shows up now and then, and it’s a warm and bright thing. Sometimes it stays awhile, and sometimes disappears for days, but when it is there, I stand in it and feel it on my face and arms and all over my skin, so when it’s not there I can remember what it feels like, and it’s almost as good. Pretty much.

Yum. That’s what I say. German Short Ribs and Spaetzle, for those of you who are so inclined, something hearty and German for this month of beer and gatherings under tents and a cool wind blowing in ‘most every day of the week.

German Short Ribs

2 T flour
1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
3 lbs boneless beef short ribs
2 T olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup chile sauce
6 T packed brown sugar
6 T vinegar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp chili powder
4 T flour
½ cup water

In a small bowl, combine 2 T flour, salt and pepper. Coat the short ribs with the flour mixture. In a large skillet, brown the short ribs in the olive oil over medium-high heat. (Do not fully cook them yet.) In a slow cooker, combine onions, wine, chile sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and chili powder. Mix thoroughly. Transfer the short ribs from the skillet to the slow cooker. Cover, and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove ribs and turn the slow cooker to high. Mix the remaining 4 T of flour with ½ cup of water and stir into sauce. Cook for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened.

(Note: Boneless beef short ribs can actually be pretty tough to find, but yes, there is such a thing.)


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground nutmeg
3-4 dashes white pepper
8 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
4 quarts chicken broth or water
4-8 T butter
Bowl of ice water
Grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Combine in a large bowl the flour, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Add eggs and milk, and mix well to a thick batter. In a Dutch oven or large kettle, bring chicken broth to a boil. Drop batter by ½ teaspoonfuls into boiling liquid. Boil until spaetzle rise to the surface; remove to ice water. Drain well. In a large skillet, heat spaetzle in butter until lightly browned. Pour into serving dish and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Makes 8 servings.