July 10th, 2008

Steak and Basketball


My oldest son’s first-ever basketball practice was held last night. It was a mixture of chaos, some glimmers of raw talent, cuteness and a touch of frustration.

One kid never took his hands out of his pants the entire practice. I’m interested to see how that technique will work in a game — you know, a game where you kinda need your hands.

The coaches are two amazing fathers who have just the right combination of toughness, light-heartedness and drive.

While the kids were taking shots and balls were flying everywhere, they were very encouraging. And when someone put a little too much muscle behind a shot and it went soaring too fast at the basket one of them screamed, “You ate too much steak tonight, son!”

It’s funny because those kids knew exactly what that meant the first time he said it. And they tried to back off a little bit.

This happened a lot because, after all, this is a group of 6-year-old boys. No one is exactly Shaquille O’Neal quite yet.

And since the coach had to use this phrase about a million times throughout the night he decided to just shorten it. Then he started yelling simply, “Too much steak, baby!”

So after all the high-fives and the “attaboys” were done and we were back in the car I was SERIOUSLY hungry for a steak. Those kids are either going to have to get really good in a hurry or I’m going to have to ask the coach to change his phrase to “sea squid” or something. I can’t face a whole season of daydreaming about steak . . .

July 9th, 2008

How Do You Like Yours?


We all know there are degrees of doneness for steaks — medium rare, well done, etc.

But did you know you can have yours blue rare? That’s a new one on me. So, here’s Dr. Tim Bennett’s descriptions of the many gradations of cooking steaks. I love it when I learn something new!

Raw – for some special dishes the steak is not cooked at all.  Most famous is perhaps steak tartare which consists of seasoned ground raw beef topped with an egg.

Blue rare – the outside of the steak is seared so that the inside is warmed; the steak will retain much of the redness of the uncooked meat.

Rare – the steak appears cooked on the outside and is very pink on the inside; the center of the steak, particularly on filets, will be red.

Medium rare – the steak appears cooked on the outside; the inside will be pink, especially in the center.

Medium – the steak appears cooked on the outside; the inside will be slightly pink in the center.

Medium well – the steak appears cooked on the outside and there will be traces of pink in the center.  The steak may taste slightly dry.

Well done – the steak appears cooked on the outside; there will be no traces of pink at all in steak.  The steak will taste hard and dry.

You can read Dr. Bennett’s full article here — and learn EVEN MORE!

July 8th, 2008

I Like Mine Good and Slow


I just read an article about scientists who discovered a gene associated with the tenderness of beef — and, therefore, great steaks.

So, what do we think about scientifically-designed steaks?

It’s a topic that goes much deeper than just great taste. It’s a matter of science, ethics, even politics.

We won’t really get into that here cuz, really, all I care about is nice, tender, juicy steaks. I don’t want to think about what was going on with them before they arrived at my doorstep. Seriously.

But one thing in this article I read made me fall out of my chair with laughter. And it was this quote:

“Scientists have identified a particular gene associated with beef tenderness, and have also found that slower-moving cattle taste better than their quicker cousins.”

So, what we really want is the porky one who dawdles in the back of the herd.

That cracks me up! In almost every other scenario you would pick the opposite of this guy. If you were picking a racehorse, you wouldn’t say, “I’ll take the brown one with the big gut staring off into space at the back.”

If choosing a hunting dog, I can’t imagine a prospective buyer saying, “Yeah, give me the dude who looks like he’s a couple cards short of a deck. Uh huh, the roly poly one.”

So, the moral of this story? When choosing a Porterhouse, make sure it came from the cow who couldn’t keep up with the rest of ’em.

You can check out the entire article here.


July 7th, 2008

Home Sweet Home


Well, we made it back home in one piece. We did the two-day drive in one day coming back. And I’d do it again.

We had a blast enjoying the sun and the water but the prospect of two more days of driving was enough to push both my husband and me over the edge. We got an early start and did the entire 13 hours in a day. There’s no room for lightweights on our bus.

So, we packed the multitude of sandy beach toys, clothes and towels in the car, put the remaining steaks from our order in the bottom of the freshly-iced cooler and we beat it out of there.

The kids were real troopers as we passed through the same areas of the country it seemed like we’d just seen. Zoom! went the yellow fiberglass cow in someone’s yard. There went the hotel we had stayed in at the halfway point. No stopping this time.

But I think my new favorite sight from my window was the discreet green sign in Mississippi that just read, “Sanatorium.”

Now, I was never sure if Sanatorium was the unfortunate name of a town or if it referred to an actual facility for those needing mental care.

That’s all it said. Sanatorium.

I felt strangely drawn to it. Like it was calling out to me. “Sanatorium! This way!”

But we couldn’t stop. It’s nice to know it’s there, though, should I ever feel the need to travel back there.

When we got home it was 11 pm. Too late for the kids, but they were no worse for the wear. We put them quickly in bed and then went downstairs to assess the damage.

Our house looked like a Tiki hut. No matter how much wash I did over our vacation we still brought home truckloads of sand. Most of it deposited on the floor now.

We put away the things that HAD to be put away. The yogurt that somehow made it back with us and the steaks safely tucked in the cooler.

We put those in the freezer and we were delighted that they were still really, really cold.

Now, next time we grill those steaks it will remind us of the family memories we made on our trip halfway across the country. Nothing could be sweeter.

I can taste it now . . .

July 4th, 2008

Happy Birthday, America!


That’s what my kids have been saying all day today.

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate America than to be in one of her greatest treasures — the beaches of Florida. And along the drive here we got to enjoy all that America has to offer like green rolling hills, clean restrooms and lots and lots of beef jerky.

We celebrated our freedom and the amazing good fortune of being Americans last night by grilling the steaks we had the freedom to have delivered to our door. They were in a word:  spectacular. . .

We started off rubbing the steak seasoning on the ribeyes and KC strips.

Then we broke out the dueling George Foreman grills — one for strips and one for ribeyes.

Then we grilled enough steaks to feed an army — well, at least us and the other family who traveled with us.

Anyone who thinks a George Foreman grill takes all the juice out has never used a GF grill. We had loads of juice. And there wasn’t a bite of meat left.

Tonight we celebrate with a fireworks display on the beach. That is too cool.

I’m having my kids wear these matching shirts when they are done swimming for the day . . .

I have to do it now because pretty soon I’ll hear, “Mom, that is so ridiculous! Why do I have to wear the same thing as him???”

Happy birthday, America! Thanks George, John and all the other forefathers for paving the way for the country we have today. It sure has been a great place to explore!


July 3rd, 2008

Would You Trust These Men?


Taking this photo felt like some Dateline NBC investigation. Covert. Clandestine.

All right, so it’s not as bad as I’m making it out to be. I’m sure these guys are very nice people. The fact is, I just don’t know them.

So why would I want to put my steaks on the grill right after them?

Here at the beach I don’t have the luxury of my own grill from home. And because I don’t know what exactly these people have grilled before me — and how well they clean up after themselves — I refuse to use the public grill that’s been out in the elements with sand and who-knows-what-else scattered on it.

So, I brought my George Foreman grill from home.

Better to be safe than sorry.

My steaks were delivered yesterday right to my door . . . and tonight we feast! Once again, George saves the day for us.


July 2nd, 2008

Pasta a la Beach


We’re trying to eat in as much as possible here on our vacation. We’ve done the restaurant scene around these parts for a few years and we usually leave disappointed.

Granted, some of that is due to the fact that we’ve always had little ones in tow. Meltdowns are a given when you’re waiting an hour for a table after a whole day running and playing in the sun.

So this time we decided to get smart. We are cooking up a storm and loving it.

Last evening, it was spaghetti in a meat sauce made with ground sirloin and ground hot sausage. It was divine. Take a look . . .


For us, a leisurely meal made exactly how we like it — and that amazing view — is heaven on earth.

It’s funny how “heaven” for us always includes some sort of beef. Uh huh, just wait ’til it’s steak night!

July 1st, 2008

Seal Your Steak With a Kiss


My husband brought this handy little vacuum sealer home for me from a business trip last week. He had been gone all week leaving me home with the children — 24 hours a day. For days on end.

Now some people may equate this gift to receiving a mop or feather duster from your husband for your anniversary.

To me, it was a sweet love note. A romantic gesture.

It has a picture of a steak on it for heaven’s sake! Of course he knew I’d like it.

And since it has a photo of a steak on it, it must be useful for steaks, right?

I decided to investigate further.

This puppy removes the air from freezer bags so you can vacuum seal them and keep whatever you want fresh for months. Namely . . . steaks.

So, when you have a big barbecue this summer and you grill tons of ribeyes, T-bones, filets and Porterhouses and your friends don’t eat near as much as you anticipated — voila! Vacuum seal ’em.

Then, you have ready-made steaks the next time you get a hankerin’. Just heat and serve.

I love this!

And I love that man. He’s a genius.

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About Me

Hi! My name is Dena P., and I love steak. In fact, I’ve been on a quest for the perfect steak for a few years now.

I love experimenting with food and I like to get my family, friends and neighbors involved. They add a lot to my cooking experience by helping me perfect techniques and sharing recipes.

Read More About Me »

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