2 Appliances that Saved My Marriage

2 Appliances that Saved My Marriage May 11, 2012

Scott and I had a rocky relationship, oh, the first 10 years of marriage.  But the first months were the worst, and the worst of the worst was laundry day. 
Doing laundry in our Manhattan 4th floor walk-up apartment was daunting.  We had to carry the laundry down four flights, across a city block, and down into the basement of another building.  When it was done, we had to carry it all the way back up. 
Whether laundry day came weekly, bi-weekly, or even once every 3 weeks, without fail, we had a vicious, mean-to-the-bone, no holds barred fight.  Which was never about laundry. 
Our therapist suggested sending our laundry out.  The $80 bill and oversized dilapidated overalls that came with that attempt precluded that solution.
So we bought a portable washing machine—a machine that hooked up to the sink and served as an extra countertop in our kitchen. 
A much newer model than the one
we had

Amazing!  With our portable washer now churning out loads of laundry on a regular basis, we no longer fought on laundry day.  Our overheated apartment, so warm that I wore shorts all year round, enabled us to hang clean clothes on racks, and sheets and towels from hangers on door lintels, humidifying our apartment and giving it a fresh clean smell all at the same time.  It took half a day to dry everything.
The other appliance that saved us was a deep freezer.  We didn’t suffer the same level of conflict around grocery shopping, but our fridge was so weak it didn’t keep ice cream frozen.  As 2 InterVarsity staff, we also couldn’t afford to buy meat.  So we’d borrow a car and drive to the Sam’s Club in the suburbs—Scott’s parents had given us a free membership—and load up on frozen chicken breasts that we stuffed into the small deep freezer we bought with wedding money.
Our portable washing machine proved handy when we moved to Boston with newborn baby—babies create a lot of laundry.  When we moved to our own house that came with a regular washer, we gave the portable one away.  Since then we’ve gone through 2 more washers. 
Although Scott and I no longer fight on every laundry day, I’m sad to say we end up fighting with our kids because we’re disappointed with their attitudes, their folding, and their refusal to put away their clothes.  I guess laundry fighting is a generational sin we haven’t quite exorcised.
After serving us well for 17 years, our original deep freezer died and I upgraded to a larger one, which I stuff with sale meat, Chinese dumplings, Portuguese sausage I bring back from Hawaii, and leftovers.  Every year I buy an extra turkey at Thanksgiving.  Every year I don’t cook it until the following fall. 
Right now I’m trying to use up all the old frozen food, a harder task than you’d imagine because despite liking to buy meat on sale, I don’t actually cook hunks of meat that often, much to our kids’ chagrin.
So this week I took out an 8 month old 2.5 pound package of ground beef and made shepherd’s pie for the first time in about 5 years.  The kids were ecstatic.  Real American food with real beef that didn’t taste all that healthy!  They didn’t even mind the veggies I snuck inside.
As always, not the one I made, but you get the idea.

So I praise God for portable washing machines and deep freezers and marital solutions that money and technology can solve.
Shepherd’s Pie
(serves about 12, obviously halve the recipe if you’re not feeding a crowd, add or leave out whatever veggies you like)
2.5 lbs ground beef
4 onions, diced
1 lb. carrots, diced
1 lb mushrooms, chopped (I buy the pre-sliced kind and sauté 2 lbs at a time so I have them on hand for omelets, salads and sides.  If your kids don’t like mushrooms, like mine, chopping them so they blend in means they get eaten)
3 Tbs flour
1-2 tsp Thyme (or to taste)
1-2 tsp fresh Rosemary (optional)
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups peas
2 cups corn  
Mashed Potatoes
2.5 lbs russet potatoes
Milk &  Butter
Note:  All quantities are approximate because I generally just dump until it looks right.

1.     Boil Potatoes until soft and mashable.  Add milk and butter until it’s a soft texture.  More butter tastes good, but isn’t good for you. . .
2.     While potatoes are cooking, brown beef in a large skillet, drain if you want to get rid of fat, don’t drain if you want more juice. 
3.     Add onions, carrots and mushrooms (if not pre-cooked), sauté until onions are translucent
4.     Add flour, sauté a couple minutes
5.     Add thyme, Worcestershire, tomato paste and chicken broth, Saute until sauce is thickened
6.     Add peas and corn
7.     Either pour beef mixture into a casserole dish and cover with mashed potatoes, or if your skillet is large enough, just put potatoes over beef mixture in the skillet, making sure they cover all the sides to minimize bubbling over
8.     Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, broil at end if potatoes aren’t browned

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