killing time between meals

where talking about what's for dinner while you're at lunch is totally acceptable


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Let Them Eat Steak

To a lot of people, steak is a fancy meal, reserved for special occasions and ordered off of heavy, leather-bound menus. I come from a beef-centric family. For example, when I went home for Christmas, my mom had a roast in the crock-pot, a brisket in the oven, and hamburger meat laid out to thaw “just in case.” This was all happening even though I had told my parents that I wanted to cook steaks for them. My dad raises cattle, so, yeah … we  tend to eat more than our fair share of red meat.

working farmpups

Here I am in action helping my dad work cattle. (Aka opening and closing gates.) And those are two of our newest farm hands, Buster Brown and Bootsie. Below is a newborn Beefmaster, Rio.

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All that to say, steak is no rarity at our house. But steak on the grill could never compete with restaurant-style steak. That is, until my old friend Ina shared this recipe. Steak at home has never been the same. Or more delicious.

Cast Iron Skillet Steak
Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 1

1 2-inch thick filet mignon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ tablespoon kosher salt
½ tablespoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix together salt and pepper on a small plate. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until hot, about 5 minutes.
• While the skillet heats, pat the steak dry with a paper towel. Rub a thin layer of vegetable oil evenly over steak. Roll in the salt & pepper mixture on all sides, pressing to coat.
seasoned
• When the skillet is hot, sear the steak on all sides for 2 minutes per side, including edges, for 10 minutes. (Your smoke detector might go off intermittently. Do not panic. Just walk over to it and fan it with a dish towel like I do until the shrieking beeps stop.)
sear
• Top with butter and place the skillet in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 125 degrees. (That may look like more than a tablespoon, but I’m pretty sure that’s just the camera playing tricks on you. I mean, the camera adds 10 pounds, right? Don’t make that poor pat of butter feel bad.)
butter
• Remove the steak from the pan and cover with foil. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

While this steak is as easy to pull off as it seems, I have to admit there is one hazard. This bad boy is going to smoke when you sear it. Like, a lot. I regret to inform you all that I do not have a hood or any sort of ventilation system outside of opening all my doors and turning on my ceiling fans. But even if you do have a vent, like my parents do, your kitchen may fill with smoke to the point you are coughing and need to stick your head outside. Especially if your skillet is not properly seasoned. My mom and dad were sure that I had ruined everything and that our steaks were going to be burned to a crisp. But you know what? They weren’t. And it was so worth it. See:

serve2

My dad actually said these words to me: “This is just like eating at Ruth’s Chris!” If you know my father, or any southern man, you know that is pretty much the Holy Grail of compliments. It’s like saying you walked on water. Of course, I was beyond flattered. And if you make this steak for someone, you will likely receive a compliment of equal or greater value.

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Southern Cooking Ain’t for Sissies

A couple of weekends ago I visited my home state of Arkansas to celebrate my dad for Father’s Day and his birthday. In my family the most important part of celebrating is the food. We generally plan our days around what we will be eating where and when. (Clearly the apple didn’t fall far.) We manage to stay full the entire time we are together.

One item I requested was fried green tomatoes. My mom, though originally a Yankee from Minnesota, has managed to acclimate to the South during the past 30 years and can fry up chicken, squash, and green tomatoes with the best of ’em. I asked her to show me the fried green tomatoes step-by-step, so we grabbed a couple from my dad’s huge garden and whipped them up. After the tomatoes were eaten and the counters were wiped clean, my mom said, “There ain’t room for sissies in southern cookin’!” Amen, Moma. Spoken like a born and bred Southerner.

Sandy’s Fried Green Tomatoes
Serves 4

2 large or 4 small green tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1½ cups cornmeal mix
Salt & pepper

  • Optional: In a cast iron skillet, fry some bacon and set aside. My mom likes to fry her green tomatoes in bacon grease. You could also just use vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Set up a dredging station. In one bowl mix eggs and cream, and in another mix cornmeal and salt & pepper.
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes. My family likes ours thinner rather than thicker, but it’s really up to you. Coat each slice in the egg mix and then the cornmeal mix.
  • Fry the tomatoes a few at a time in hot oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with a little salt while they are still hot.


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I heart Arkansas. Literally. (Part 2)

I realized that I’m kind of obsessed with Arkansas-shaped things. Along with the previously mentioned cutting board, I have been looking into an Arkansas necklace. And, just recently, I ran across this little gem. An Arkansas-shaped basket!

How does this relate to food, you ask? Because you should buy this, put fruit in it, and place it on your kitchen table.

Made by Weave Crafters, this Arkansas shape comes in three sizes, as do most other states (except Texas, which comes in 8, naturally). I see Christmas gifts in many people’s futures …