Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tuesday Sermon: Named


          A friend of mine recently posted something online about how difficult it could sometimes be to just be yourself, which didn't necessarily mean fitting in with those around you, but rather accepting you might have unique qualities that weren't exactly socially PC.  I told her about a lesson that I'd learned from my mom, who has probably regretted it ever since.  She made me aware that God doesn't make two of anything - every single bit of creation is unique, down to the smallest snowflakes. As a result, if I were to be someone other than myself, I'd be insulting God, rejecting His gift to me of being the very best me that I could be. God always trumped everyone else, so I was always weird, and perfectly comfortable in my weirdness, 'cause it was a gift.
          Today's Old Testament lesson is reminding us, once again, to be aware of all those things created by God.  It reminds us to look up, and open our eyes, to realize that not only is every single creation unique, but God knows the name of every single one – not just humans, but animals, creatures, mountains, rivers, stars, planets, every grain of sand and drop of dew. 
          And yet, with each generation, we read in the Old Testament, each prophet reminding God's chosen people to look up, and be aware.  And with each generation, the past is forgotten and mistakes are made yet again, and we make gods of political correctness and sameness and how each person should be unique only in societally acceptable ways.  We neglect to elevate our eyes to see or our hearts to listen and comprehend God's presence all around us. 
          Paul reminds us that since the prophets were obviously not working to convince each successive generation the importance of remembering God's authority and power and dominion, He sent His only Son to teach us, once and for all, "God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come."  Christ knows the name of each and every person that He calls to be a part of His body in the Church.  He knows those who are found, those who are lost, and those still striving to discover their path.
          So when we become like Jacob, and think that any part of creation is hidden from God, we practice the foolishness of the generations that repeatedly forget who God is, and what He has done.
          God asks in Isaiah, "Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth."  If you haven't heard, then hear and be aware; if you have heard, then remember that the "ends of the earth" include everything in between; and if others have not heard, then our responsibility is to spread the good news!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Tuesday Sermon: Listening to God


          Do you remember your dreams?  My son has vivid, technicolor dreams that are very detailed that he remembers.  Me, my memory of my dreams are bits and pieces of stuff that make no sense, and often involve words in another language that have me searching for dictionaries upon awakening.  My husband, on the other hand, had prophetic dreams.  He would dream about things that would later happen to other people. 
          Dreams are a fascinating subject that get into more psychology than we have time for here this morning.  But modern-day psychologists would tell you that within a dream, each important aspect is some part of your own psyche, trying to communicate with you in some way.  It seems that the concept of dreams over time have changed.
          Dreams and visions – or waking dreams/daydreaming – are methods by which God communicates with us.  In the passage in Daniel, not only was Daniel expected to know the dream the king had without being told, but to interpret it such that it made sense to the king.  Daniel explains that the reason he can do this is because God gave him the power to interpret visions and dreams because he has kept his body and soul clean. 
          And here is where the letter from Paul to the Ephesians comes in, that tells us not to be foolish or to get drunk with wine, but rather to experience the wisdom and joy that being filled with the Spirit can bring.  The thing is that Paul is not speaking only about inebriation, but the "busy-ness" that we often fill our time and minds with, leaving no room for the Spirit to enter.
          I don't think God has stopped communicating with us in dreams and visions.  I think oftentimes, we have forgotten to listen, to put down our technology, our clubs, our work and activities - and to exercise the wisdom and discernment we can have when we pay attention.  For one week, try this exercise:  keep a pen and paper by your bedside.  Before you go to sleep, pray, and end with asking God to tell you what you need to know.  If at any point during the night you wake up after dreaming, write down what you can remember before you go back to sleep.  The next morning, sit in meditation with what you've written.  See if there's some part of you trying to communicate a message, or if perhaps God has answered a question you had.  Then open your Bible at random and read something on the page.  You might be surprised at the answers you receive.
          God has never stopped communicating with us.  We just have to be ready to listen.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Sermon: Do As I Say...


          How often have you understood, "do as I say, not as I do"?  How often have you wanted others to do as you say?  How do we reconcile what people say with what they do?  Just look at all our politicians.  Eventually, we realize that it's actions that count, and while words are important in establishing authenticity, actions are even more so. 
          So did you hear that Christ came for the Jews, not the Gentiles?  He says so, in Matthew 15:24, and in Mark 7:27.  Or later in Mark when he cursed the fig tree, a tree long representing Israel, but then explained that faith and prayer could make it better again.  Or when later he cleansed the temple, making His Father's house again one of prayer and not of trade.
          Did you know Peter was listening when Jesus spoke to the woman who asked Him to heal her daughter, as He said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel", and then watching as Jesus healed the Syro-Phoenician woman's daughter?  Did you know it was Peter who asked him about the withered fig tree the next morning, having heard Christ say no fruit will come from you again?  Or that Peter was watching when, as Christ cleansed the temple, He reminded them:  "‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?"
          Peter, bless his soul, was called the Rock for a reason.  Not just because he was steady and stable, steadfast in his faith and willing to take risks.  He was the ultimate Gryffindor, not generally inclined to think things through.  He is often the one most like ourselves – devout, but not necessarily the brightest bulb.  He needed some prepping before he was ready for the dream he would have in Acts, where he realizes that Christ came for all people; that God broke down the walls of separation, created all of humanity, and our responsibilities as Christians is to the whole of mankind, not just the Jews.
          We, on the other hand, have the benefit of 2000 years of history – and a whole Bible in one place.  We know that Christ came for both Jew and Gentile, because today, we celebrate Epiphany, the day that the Magi arrived to recognize this Manifestation of God.  And the Magi certainly weren't Jews.
          One of the fun parts about explaining the liturgical year to someone who doesn't follow the liturgical calendar is how we fit all of the events into one year.  Epiphany falls on what has traditionally been known as 12th Night of the 12 Days of the Christmas season.  This is usually celebrated with gift giving, cakes and a drink called wassail, as we commemorate the arrival of the Magi.  In actuality, it took quite a while for them to arrive, as the star didn't appear until the night Jesus was born.  Fortunately, they'd been expecting a sign of His birth, so they were pretty well prepared to travel quickly. 
          Some people speculate that these three were "kings" in their own right, come to welcome the new "king" to the club.  It is actually more likely that they were priests following the Zoroastrian religion from Persia, and their own writings foretold of Christ's coming.  As you'll notice in the Gospel reading, " On entering the house (not stable), they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."  So again, the idea of the three wise men in the stable, didn't happen. 
          Time-wise, the Leviticus laws under which Mary was constrained said that she would be separate for 40 days after the birth of the baby.  It was likely that the shepherds came the same night Jesus was born, but after that, no one but family would have been around Mary.  So, we know the Magi came at least 40 days after Christ was born.  But!  We're a liturgical people, and we have assigned Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, as the day to celebrate their arrival.  We don't claim they got there that quickly.
          However, their arrival helps us to understand that Christ was born to redeem all mankind, not just the Jews.  His actions confirm this throughout His ministry.  The first person He told of His mission here as the Messiah was a Samaritan woman.  The Samaritans also played a part in the parable of being a good neighbor.  His actions always included everyone, but His words were often very specific to the Jews.  Even though Paul emphasizes his own mission to the Gentiles in most of his letters, including today's letter to the Ephesians, it was Peter's dream and decision that the Christian religion would be all inclusive that helped the church expand so quickly into the areas of the Gentiles.  Paul, of course, had a huge influence on the inclusion of the Gentiles as well, but Peter was the "rock upon which [Christ] will build [his] church."  Peter learned to listen to Christ's "words" – which certainly included more than the spoken word, but most particularly His actions – and did as Christ both said and did.
          Today, however, actions tend to speak louder than words in our life lessons.  We have become so used to the PC speak and unfulfilled promises of others, we often don't even trust the words of others.  Minister George Crane tells of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband. “I do not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me.”
          Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan: “Go home and act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.” With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!” And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting “as if.” For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing. When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”
          “Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion. The ability to love is established not so much by fervent promise as often repeated deeds.
          The wise men traveled hundreds of miles, after having studied their own religious writings for decades.  They came to pay homage to the Christ child.  They let their deeds speak for themselves, and on their return, taught others of the birth of the Messiah.
          So here today, I'd like to challenge each of us to take Christ's commandments that you heard at the beginning of this service:  " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."  Don't say the words.  Live them.  Do as we were commanded to do.  How will you show, by action, the love of God?  How will you show love to your neighbor? 


Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Symbols

As a student of history, I have always been fascinated by the people of Japan.  They were, for centuries, an isolationist country, keeping out influences from both Western and Eastern religions, cultures, thoughts.  And yet, the Japanese loved new ideas, studying them, borrowing them, and then making them theirs – uniquely Japanese.  So they traded with people from the west over the seas, and people from the east over the lands, and their own culture became enriched.

Christians are a rather similar people.  We look at other religions, other cultures and traditions and think – wow, those are pretty neat.  If we just changed how we looked at it a little bit, then it becomes uniquely ours.  We might have been inspired by A, B and C, but with a little of the Holy Spirit mixed in, we've got the Alpha, the Omega and everything in between.

Christmas is one of those times of year when Christians are accused of taking over Pagan symbols, or in the more modern, PC vernacular, practicing cultural appropriation.  In some ways, they could be considered correct, but let's look at a uniquely Christmas symbol, and what it means around the world.  Here, I'm speaking of the Christmas Star.

Now, it's only in Matthew that we hear about the Star in the East that leads the three wise men to come and find Jesus.  But we all know about the star, how it guides, how it shines so brilliantly in comparison to all the other stars in the sky.  Over the years, the star has been depicted as having 5 points, 6 points, 8 points or 12 points.  So just taking those – essentially the ornaments we put at the top of our Christmas tree, to remind us that Christ is what it most important under that star – let's look at how other traditions look the various pointed stars.

A pentagram, or 5-pointed star can be found throughout ancient Sumeria, Greece and Egypt, often used in creation stories to represent the elements found on Earth, i.e. water, earth, fire, air and spirit.  The Chinese have the elements in a 5-pointed star of water, earth, fire, wood and metal.  Today, you'll find most pentagrams in use by modern Wiccans – a pagan religion that actually began in 1954, which takes on the original creation elements, adding in the Pythagorean definition of it symbolizing man.  This symbol is in use all over the world, and no one group or culture has a monopoly on the symbol.  The symbol means what it means to the person using it.

A hexagram, or 6-pointed star, is most often recognized in the west as the Star of David.  It has, however, also been used in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism – which would generally tell us that this is probably a regional symbol that then came into use by various religions.  Christians have been known to use a hexagram, and call it the Star of Creation.  Interestingly, Pascal and other mathematicians find the "Mystic hexagram" to be a fascinating use of geometry.

An octagram, or 8-pointed star, is familiar to us as the Compass Rose.  You'll note that as the stars gain numbers of points, they are more and more popular with mathematicians.  In any case, the 8-pointed star is regularly used by Muslims, Hindus, and Venus worshipers in Latvia.

A dodecagram, or 12-pointed star, is pretty much a popular symbol for when you have 12 of anything to keep track of – 12 apostles, 12 tribes, 12 months in a year or signs of the zodiac. 

So the point to all of this trivial knowledge is that a symbol is something used for or representing something else.  It can, of course, be popularized in one culture, be used by another culture and that symbolism takes over the meaning of the original.  A good example of this is the swastika – originally coming from the Sanskrit, and used by Hindus, Jainists and Native American religions as symbols of good luck, divinity and spirituality – and eventually taken over by the Nazi party in Germany to mean racial superiority and anti-semitism.  To use this symbol now is certainly asking for trouble.

But let's take the wisdom of a child about stars.  Mr. Harry Lauder told of a man and his small son who were walking slowly down the streets of a large American city one Christmas time. It was wartime, and the child was interested to see many service stars hanging in the windows of homes. Each star proudly proclaiming the fact that the son was in the service of his country. He clapped his hands excitedly as he approached each new home and each new star, and he was impressed by those homes with more than one star in the window.

Presently they came to a wide gap between the houses and through the black velvet of the Christmas sky there was clearly discernable the Evening Star. It shone brightly as a diamond. "Oh look, Daddy," cried the little boy. "God must have given His Son, for He has a star in His window."

Each symbol that we use stands for something.  It can be used to educate, to remind ourselves, or even to just use a short-cut, like writing X-mas, where the X stands for Christ.  Usually, symbols will help to teach more than one thing.  Let's take the 12-days of Christmas, which begin on Christmas Day and go through Epiphany.  First, it teaches counting, as well as a popular method of memorization – adding one item at a time.  It was probably played as a forfeit game.  Second, be aware that the words to this song have 21 different versions.  The original came from "The Twelve Days of Christmas sung at King Pepin's Ball", as part of a 1780 children's book, Mirth without Mischief.  The version of music and song mostly came from the 1909 version by Frederic Austen.

Rather than playing the game here, I'll give you something to think about when you hear each of the symbols in the song.  And if your question is, was the song written to portray these symbols, the answer is no, but Christians have adapted it to help us teach our children about Christmas.

The partridge in the pear tree is Christ, given to us by "my true love", or God.  Two turtle doves can represent the Old and the New Testaments, together bearing witness to God's self-revelation to us.  The three French hens represent the three theological virtues – faith, hope and love. 

Four Calling birds originally began as collie birds, or black birds.  However, we use them here to remind us of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Five golden rings are the first five books of the Bible, or the Pentateuch.  We slow down for this to remind us of the history of mankind, and our need for forgiveness, and thus God giving us his son.

Six is the number of the days of Creation.  Seven are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit as outlined in Romans:  Prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and compassion.  Eight are the numbers of the Beatitudes:  blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

The nine fruits of the spirit from Galatians are next, including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Ten would be the ten Commandments, which I won't repeat here.  Eleven would be the 11 faithful apostles, excluding Judas.  And finally, 12 would be the number of points of doctrine found in the Apostles' Creed. 

Now if you could teach your children, grandchildren, or even yourself all of these points by the use of the song, then I think the Christian appropriation of the song might be well worth it.  We need to keep in mind that it was "our true love" who gave each of them to us.

We don't have to argue symbols with people.  Their symbol means to them what it means to them.  There's nothing to take away from them – they haven't tried to ban our Christmas season.  And, we haven't tried to take over their own traditions and symbols.  We do have symbols at Christmas that all relate to Christ in one way or another – they are uniquely Christian, but fortunately, we are all one people created by God, and we can decide on which symbols mean what to us.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Sermon: No Room at the Inn?


Merry Christmas!
          All month, I've been posting recipes and Bible verses to our blog about the concept of hospitality.  In today's Gospel, we've heard the story we all know so well about the journey Joseph and Mary took to register for the census.  But as you may come to discover as you listen here today, we may not have as clear a picture about the time of Jesus' birth as we might think.  Our culture has created a mythos, made popular by children's Christmas pageants everywhere.  I even included one of those stories in a previous sermon, where a little boy was devastated when he was playing the innkeeper and didn't have any room for Mary and Joseph – eventually shouting out, "Wait, you can have my room!"
          However, right now, I'm going to mention the one thing I swore I would avoid after my New Testament class – Greek.  Luke was an educated man, and Greek was certainly within his bailiwick.  Within any of the "Hebrew" scriptures, we can certainly hear the echo of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures.
          But today, we're going to talk about hospitality:  the hospitality due to strangers, and the hospitality due to out of town family.  In Jewish tradition, offering hospitality is a mitzvah, or commandment, for which one receives a blessing.  It actually carries the rule of law, and if a Jewish family knows of strangers who are hungry or need a place to rest, it actually becomes a legal obligation.  These rules developed out of the fact that they were a desert people, and travel of any distance often left people in need of that hospitality.  The Talmud teaches that one's house should always be open and welcoming to strangers.  Now, at the same time, strangers have an equal obligation to be a good guest, and to not overstay their welcome.  In the Midrash Tellihim, it advises, "On the day a guest arrives, a calf is slaughtered in his honor; the next day, a sheep, the third day, a fowl, and on the fourth day, he is served just beans."  Guests are to offer extra blessings while they stay, and ensure that they do not eat everything on a plate they are given.
          When your guest leaves, you should escort them part-way to ensure their safety, but at a minimum, you should escort them at least 4 cubits from the doorstep  - which is about 7 feet.  Jewish hospitality was so well known that when the Roman Emperor Julian set up hostels for transients in each town, he recommended they mimic the Jews, "in whose midst no stranger goes uncared for." 
          Just one more example of how important Jewish hospitality is – in Genesis 18, Abraham is literally talking with God – it had been only 3 days since his circumcision, and apparently God was making a house call to see how he was – when Abraham sees three strangers in the distance, and rushes out – leaving God there – to greet them and offer hospitality.  In that instance, hospitality ranked higher than talking with God about his circumcision.
          So, let's go back to Joseph and Mary, who were in Bethlehem because they had to go register for the census.  Both of them were of the tribe of Judah, so both of them would have at least had distant family close to where they were registering.  Also keep in mind that they were descendants – very far distant descendants, but descendants, nonetheless, of David, the greatest King the Jews had ever known to that point.  Family would have been more than happy to take them in.
          And here's where we get to the Greek.  The Greek word for a commercial inn is pandokeion.  And with current archeological findings, there was no inn in Bethlehem.  It was a small village.  And Luke did not use that word in stating that there was no place for them – in what has been translated as "inn."  The word that he used instead was kataluma, which means guest room or upper room.  With all of the family in town registering for the census, it is highly likely that everyone's guest rooms were a little crowded. 
          When I was little, I lived in a tiny farming village in Germany.  In the wintertime, the livestock were brought in to what was essentially the ground floor, protected from the harsher weather and temperatures.  This served a few purposes – the heat from the animals would rise and help heat the household; the farmers' kids didn't have brave the elements to take care of the livestock, milk cows, gather eggs, etc. – they could just go downstairs.  The smell took some getting used to, but eventually you didn't even notice it.  I caught the train to school every morning, and the stop was right next to one such house.
          Archeologists have discovered the same sort of arrangement for the houses in Bethlehem.  They would often build their house close to a cave, or build it up, so there was space underneath for the livestock.  That's where the manger would be kept, since a manger is a trough out of which horses and cattle ate.  According to the historians, it is unlikely that homes had an additional heating source, beyond a cooking stove.  So keeping the baby in the manger was both a soft place, and one of the warmer places in the house.  As good guests who would probably be staying more than the three days acceptable for good guests, it is likely that Joseph took care of the animals in the barn/stable and the new family was afforded a bit of privacy in that way as well.
          This sort of puts a whole new spin on how Jesus came into the world.  Rather than an inhospitable innkeeper and a lonely stable, Jesus was welcomed into the world, surrounded by family – who were probably in the main room and the guest rooms until all the excitement was over – and a Son was welcomed and kept warm.  When the shepherds were told about Christ's arrival, even as they were out in the fields, they knew just where to go – they didn't need directions.  It wasn't a separate stable or cave, but rather the warmest room in the house of those descended from David.  Hospitality ensured that Christ's birth was a celebration and happy event, even if everyone else didn't quite yet know the story of who His father was. 

Advent Day 24: Lasagna with a Twist

Well, we have come to the final day of our Advent season, where we've focused on hospitality and grace, specifically with how food can play a large part in making people feel welcome and taken care of.  Sometimes this can include taking note of their allergies or food peculiarities.  Sometimes it can be seeing what you've got in the refrigerator to be able to make up quickly.  At this time of year, many people will have leftover turkey, and could certainly substitute that into this dish.  This would be a great dish for Christmas Eve, prepared before you go to church and popped into the oven upon your return for a nice dinner.

Be sure to check back for tomorrow's sermon, to see how the month's concept of hospitality fits into the story of Christ's birth.  Remember to keep your doors and hearts open to those who need your hospitality.  Invite someone to join you if you know they're alone for holy days.  The blessing will be yours.
Let mutual love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.  (Hebrews 13:1-2)
CHICKEN ALFREDO LASAGNA
(From the Taste of Home Blog)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into strips
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto or deli ham, cut into strips
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded Asiago cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 9 no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese


DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large skillet, cook pancetta and prosciutto over medium heat until browned. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a large bowl; add chicken and toss to combine.
  2. For sauce, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, 1 tablespoon parsley, pepper and nutmeg.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°. Spread 1/2 cup sauce into a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Layer with a third of each of the following: noodles, sauce, meat mixture, Asiago, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat layers twice.
  4. Bake, covered, 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer or until bubbly. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Best Kitchen Tips

  • Swap bacon for the pancetta if you want a little smoky action in your lasagna. Mmmmmm.
  • Rotisserie chicken keeps this dish ultra simple, but really, any leftover pulled or cubed chicken will do.
  • Make it vegetarian by subbing 3 cups of sauteed vegetables for the meat. We like a combo of mushrooms and squash. Zucchini and butternut work well, too.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Advent Day 23: Beef Stroganoff

We all know the story of The Prodigal Son, and the feasting and celebration to be had when the younger son returned to the family.  "But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate."  (Luke 15:22-24)  While the younger son had been profligate, and spent all of his inheritance, he had come to his senses and at least returned to his family.  The realization of the consequences he suffered from his choices was a grace from God, and the hospitality shown him by his father was certainly more than he ever expected. 

BEEF STROGANOFF

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound Sirloin Steak, Cut Into Cubes
  • Kosher Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Large Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 whole Carrots, Finely Diced
  • 8 ounces, weight Cremini Or White Button Mushrooms, Stemmed And Halved
  • 1/2 cup Brandy
  • 2 cups Beef Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (heaping) Dijon Mustard
  • Cooked Egg Noodles, For Serving
  • Minced Parsley, For Serving

DIRECTIONS

  1. Season the steak with salt and pepper, then heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add half the meat to the pan and brown it quickly, about 2 minutes. Remove the first batch to a bowl and cook the rest of the meat. Remove and set all the meat aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan and add the onion, carrots, and mushrooms. Cook until the mixture is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the brandy and add 2 cups of the stock. Stir, scrape the bottom of the pan, and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook to reduce the liquid by about a third, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  3. In a small pitcher, make a slurry by mixing the remaining 1/4 cup stock and the cornstarch with a fork. Pour the slurry into the skillet and cook until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the sour cream and Dijob. Add the beef and stir over low heat until the mixture is nice and piping hot. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like. 
  4. Serve over cooked noodles and sprinkle with parsley.