Thursday, January 3, 2013
Getting Over Christmas
Turns out I must have missed the memo. The one instructing us to bring nice, thoughtful gifts priced at about fifteen dollars, which most of my generous coworkers translated into twenty or twenty-five. When I hear 'Gift Exchange' I get tunnel vision. Really, I'll forget about the whole deal until the day before, or in this case the day of, but when it's go time, my tunnel leads me right to the thrift store where you will find me elbow deep in just about everything, rooting for the perfect gift. And I feel I should mention, I passed on some good stuff this year, like a ceramic duck (slight discoloration), a tight-fitting army hat (duck tape inside), or the nearly-antique batman doll (fifteen bucks! rip off). Anyways, it wasn't until the final hour, at the final shop, in the most unlikely place, that I found my philosophers stone (so to speak). In the creepy-little Christmas room in the second-hand furniture store, tucked in amongst rubble, I found my gemstone: a two-hour video of the burning log! You know, the fake fireplace featured on Shaw cable year after year, where the only action occurs every half hour or so when a hand reaches in with a poker to adjust the logs.
If you are anything like me, you're rubbing your hands together with glee as you read this. You might even be cackling. You're certainly thinking,'This is it! Pure hilarity!' But then you've forgotten the memo and the fifteen dollar suggestion and the unspoken assumption that everybody would get everybody else something nice.
Anyhow, I bullied some poor sap of a co-worker into choosing the yule log at the exchange, lived down the shame, and took home a perfectly lovely, hand-pained glass Christmas ornament.
Next year I might just keep the yule log.
At my third gift exchange (number two, which I've left out, went well, incidentally) it became clearly that while technically I don't go in big for Christmas presents, I was going all in for a certain item under that tree. Well, it wasn't under the tree anymore, I had unwrapped it before Haley stole it from me. We were in the throws of one of those unwrap and steal gift-giving phenomena. The item that had both Haley and I more than slightly salivating as we went head to head was the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. Naturally, I won.
If you didn't get the gift you wanted this year -- wait, that sounds awful. What I'm trying to say is that I recommend the book. It's full of fun little quips and stories from Deb Perelman, author of the Smitten Kitchen blog, and includes a nice selection of her recipes.
She's really a great cook, Deb Perelman
She really has a great blog, that Deb Perelman.
I'd say I'm jealous, but that also sounds awful. I'd say I'm jealous of how she hangs out at her apartment all day testing recipes with her incredibly cute toddler and then gets to write cute anecdotes about the recipes and the toddler that are widely read before collected into a book and published. I'd say that but it wouldn't be totally true because I actually love my job and I'm not all that eager to write out perfectly tested recipes for you all -- the truth, you heard it here first. But I do like to ramble. And I like to cook. Although, I don't always like to work, as in at my job, and then cook. Sometimes working and cooking is just about the wost combination in my life. Which is why Haley and I are trying to brainstorm some strategies to make the whole thing -- working and cooking -- a little easier and a lot more fun.
Now I should probably be starting with a practical post about casseroles and freezing and how-to, but instead, I'm skipping right to the good stuff. In case you missed the picture at the top of the post, here's a closer view.
Steak is my favourite fast food and I'd say, reigns supreme in the working woman's freezer. There are those who tut tut the frozen steak and worry that quality is compromised in the freezing/thawing process. But if you buy quality meat, and I would encourage you to choose free-range and locally sourced, you really won't notice a difference.
The perfectly nice thing about stocking some steak in your freezer is you're all set for Friday night when you want to have a scrumptious dinner but don't want to pay the exhibitionist price of eating out, or you're like me and once you've arrived home from work at the end of your week all you want is a pair of comfy pants, a glass of something-or-other and your feet up. There's no tipping you off the couch into heels and a sweater and a car to town. Forgetaboutit.
If you've taken your steak out to thaw in the morning or the night before, all it needs is a flash in the pan and you've got an amazing dinner on your plate. You can pair it with some roasted potatoes and other veggies if you've got it in you. Or set it beside a quick salad.
Now, for the 'recipe.'
Easy Grilled Steak
First you need to get the steak. I suggest you choose one of the following cuts of meat for flavour and tenderness, T-bone, sirloin, rib-eye or porter house. If you'd like to know more about different cuts of beef, this is a good site http://www.beefinfo.org/. Now I should also mention that I use free-range beef that is raised locally. Last spring, we purchased a large portion of beef for a set rate from a local farm. If you have farms offering that service in your area check it out because you get great value and excellent product. Having passed a number of feed-lots in California while barrelling down super-highways I defiantly stay away from high-production beef...
Secondly, you need your equipment. Many people like to do steak on the BBQ or under the broiler in the oven. I've found that both these options don't give the level of control that I am looking for when I do a steak. I want fast, hot, steady heat. I find I get the best delivery of these three qualities from a cast iron pan. You might have a comparable frying pan that gives good heat and doesn't have an easily damaged finish.
Now, the work (just a little). Be sure to fully defrost the meat or it will not cook evenly. Salt and pepper your steaks on both sides.
Meanwhile, heat your pan on high with a little olive oil or butter. Wait until the pan is hot and smoking before you add the steaks. If you like your steaks medium rare, cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side. If you like your steak rare, cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side. I can't advise you as to well done because I don't do it. These times are based on 1 inch thick steaks.
Pop that bad boy on your plate beside you salad/potatoes/carrots/or what-have-you, light the candles and enjoy your Friday night.