Hail to the Chef

I totally have a crush on Alton Brown.

I mean, I don’t want to kiss him or anything, but I would love to sit down at the dinner table with him and listen to him expound on why the green beans taste so good steamed. So anyway, DH and I watched the episode “Steak Your Claim” after which I made DH stop by the store on his way home from work a few days later and pick up some steaks. An expensive meal, 18 dollars to feed seven. But, if you divide it by plate, it’s only like, three dollars a plate.

DH and I love steak, but it’s always a hit and miss event. Until Alton Brown walked us through it.

We actually bought a cast iron skillet in preparation for the meal. This is what you do.  Season your steaks with a little canola oil (it has a high smoke point) and kosher salt and pepper. The kosher salt is jagged and sticks to itself and the meat, making for a nice texture. Your skillet has been heating up in the 500 degree oven. You transfer the skillet to your burner, put it on high heat, and sear your steaks about thirty seconds on each side, without fussing with them. Then you put the skillet and steaks into the 500 degree oven and leave in for four minutes, if your steak is about an inch thick.

We couldn’t believe how perfectly cooked they were! I love medium rare, and that is exactly what I got. The steaks were juicy, hot, flavorful…sigh. Thank you, Alton.

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Kielbasa and Lentils

My family likes to tease me about certain meals that I make. I happen to love lentils. The first time I had them, I made them for my husband and oldest child when he was one. I got the recipe out of a cookbook that was constructed much like a coloring book, paperback with newsprint pages. But it was a gift to me, and darn if I didn’t use those recipes all the time. Anyway, I haven’t had lentils in years, and I found a bag in my pantry last week. And I had my new cookbook, Menus for  Whole Year of Dinners, AND I had Kielbasa in the fridge. Sometimes, the planets align and a meal is meant to be. So, I made my Kielbasa and Lentils, had plenty of carrots in it, some onion, some spices, some major deliciousness and I was sucking this soup down. Then my family starts in. “Where did you get the lentils, mom?” Before I could answer, DH says, “Lentils R Us.” It just spiraled out of control from there. “Lentils ‘N’ Things”. “Lentil Barrel”. “Old Country Lentils”. “Best Lentils”. “Lentil City”. “Hobby Lentils”. Do you see what I have to put up with? So we’re out of lentils. I’m going to Lentil-Mart and buy me some more lentils.

My 70s Flashback

I mooched a book from “Bookmooch”. You should really check it out, if you like books at all. But anyway, the title caught my eye. Menus for a Whole Year of Dinners. I just knew this book was going to solve all of my cooking dilemmas. Anyway, I was delighted when it came in the mail. It smells of libraries or musty old lady living rooms. It smells wonderful. The pictures are godawful though. Grainy, aged, not really very appetizing. But the names of the meals are hysterical. You may remember my post about naming your food. This book is ALL ABOUT naming the meals. Tomato aspic, toast points, Fruited Lamb Riblets, Macaroni-Meat Bake. Oh My Goodness. This book is a flashback to when Jello was, like, newly invented. And Avocados were TRENDY. So I’ve had a lot of fun with this. Last week some of our dinners were: Country Dinner, Gourmet Franks and Kielbasa and Lentils. These meals crack me up. The Country Dinner consisted of cabbage wedges, instant mashed potatoes and Vienna Sausages. Yes, Vienna Sausages. Here is a line from the recipe: “Stick sausages into potatoes.” Guffaw. That was fun.

I had to give my family a break though, because really, you can only eat so much processed meat. The gourmet franks? It was hot dogs simmered in onions and mushrooms and a little chicken broth. Ahem. So we had my good old fashioned double bean burritos. That was yummy, and the family breathed a collective sigh of relief. They complain about my overuse of some Mexican food standbys: tortillas, ground beef, cheese, and enchilada sauce. But I think my recipes from the Good Housekeeping book circa 1972 are worse. Oh, I’m not done with it. I’ve got two cans of luncheon meat in the pantry just waiting for the Macaroni-Meat Bake, and a five pound Duck in the freezer for Hunter-Style Duckling. I know, you’re smacking your lips.

Medicinal Pickles

Remember those pickles I bottled in the summer? The really salty sour ones? Well, I started coming down with a sore throat last week. I gargled with my sour pickle juice all week, and I almost had this cold licked, but then I ran out. So I started using the commercial pickle juice, and wouldn’t you know it, the sore throat came back with a vengeance. By the time I accepted the fact that my remedy was superior, it was too late. So I’m nursing an incredibly sore throat, but I have hope that the next time I start getting one, I can confidently turn to my pickles for relief.

Hook, Line and Sucker

I shouted from upstairs on Saturday morning, “I had a dream I found a candy bar!” Then we got on with our day. In the early afternoon, I was walking down the hallway and there was a huge Snickers bar just lying on the ground at my feet. I shouted, “Hey! My dream came true!” I picked it up and started walking downstairs. That’s when “Bob” came out of his room and said, “Oh man, my string broke!” He was trying to get me! He heard me tell DH about my dream, and then hatched his plan. I had to call my sister and tell her about it, because I knew it would make her laugh. She said she would probably fall for that trick every time. It made my day, even though he didn’t actually give me the candy bar to keep.

You’re My Gyro, Dad

A couple weeks ago I took my dad on a date to the Midwest Museum of Art. They were having an exhibit called “In Search of Norman Rockwell’s America”, and my dad is an aficionado of Norman Rockwell. We had a lovely visit, and then stopped at King Gyro’s for lunch.

I love GYRO’s! That spicy lamb, that creamy bland yogurt, just a touch of tang and then sliced onions and tomatoes. Divine! We shared fries, drank Cokes and stuffed our faces. I commented that it was funny we had so much to say, then all of a sudden it was quiet. Because we were grubbin’!

A week later, I took Farley to my local King Gyros. I guess I was trying to recreate lunch with my dad, but it just wasn’t the same. The gyro was too salty, or the cucumber sauce was, or something. But I did eat every last bit and lick my fingers to boot, so I guess it wasn’t that bad!

Thank you, Dad, for treating me to Gyros and for being a Hero.