Tea and Goulash: The Food of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE

Since finishing Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I can't stop thinking about the cafes in Prague. I know I should be dwelling on the cliffhanger romance between Karou and Akiva, I should be reliving the beauty of the angels and monsters or the old world Eastern Europe. I should be wanting revel the exotic richness of Morocco or the paints and canvases of the art school. (Somewhere in an alternate life, I'm a student in such an art school, I know it.) Probably I should be imagining how the story will look as a movie. (Did you hear? The movie rights have been acquired.) But I'm hung up on the pastries, the tea, and the goulash.

They ordered tea, which came in an antique silver service, the sugar and creamer dishes engraved with the words arsenic and strychnine.   -- page 68

My tea comes as a bag in a plain, old mug. Maybe I should pretty it up. Scour the local antique barns for an exotic tea service set. Probably I could make an expensive hobby out of this.

She texted her friend en route-- Peekaboo! Big day. I'm bringing breakfast-- and bought some croissants at her corner bakery. A text came back-- if it's not chocolate, it's  not breakfast-- and she smiled and doubled back to the bakery for some chocolate kolaches. --page 172

I wonder if kolaches are like chocolate croissants? Our local bakery makes huge ones. We're talking enormous, delicious, light as air pastry with dark chocolate filling and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Great. Now I want chocolate croissants.

They ordered bowls of goulash, which they ate while discussing Kaz's stunt, their chemistry teacher's nose hair-- which Zuzana asserted was braidable-- and ideas for their semester projects. -- page 27

Goulash was practically a weekly meal when I was growing up. I think it was just a fancy name applied to a simple stew of meat, vegetables and potatoes. No recipe was used, as the ingredients and seasonings were never the same. I was surprised when I found out it's a Hungarian dish. There didn't seem to be anything particularly Hungarian about tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and stewing beef. (Apparently, it's all about the paprika.)

Goulash is still economical to make, and even easier when the ingredients are tossed into the slow cooker and forgotten all day. Variations are everywhere, so add or subtract from this recipe as you like. Serve with perogies and sour cream. Yum.

GOULASH IN THE SLOW COOKER

1 1/2 pounds stewing beef 2 thinly sliced or chopped onions 4 cups beef stock 4 tablespoons tomato puree (tomato paste) 3-4 teaspoons paprika 2 teaspoons sugar

Combine ingredients in slow cooker. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.

(If you like your meat browned first, go ahead. I'm lazy. Saute the meat and onions in olive oil over moderate heat until the meat is browned on all sides. Add to slow cooker with other ingredients. Cook on low for 10-12 hours.)

Or you can cook this on the stove-top for a couple hours and toss in frozen perogies at the end. Easy.