Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'm Still Here

Whew. Things have been hectic lately, we finally sold our house and are in the process of moving. The buyers came several times last week and it's been a real challenge to keep things neat and tidy.

Why is it that the day I cook the most food, and have the most dirty dishes in the sink, is the day somebody inevitably comes knocking at the door?

I am tired. And to make matters worse - my hours at work have increased. So that along with packing up 27 years of junk is keeping me extra busy right now. Someday I hope to cook again. For now, I am on hiatus ... somewhat. I hope to resume cooking and some semblance of normalcy in February.

In the mean time, I am thinking about Superbowl Sunday. It's a big day to my husband. Me? I really couldn't care less, but I do like the food that comes along with sports. And here in Oklahoma, that usually means grilling. And although we've had some pretty darn cold days this year, we've also had some nice grilling days as well. So I want to tell you about this marinated flank steak recipe that I found in a Southern Living cookbook.

This is one of those meats you can throw on the grill, slice thinly, and serve on a big platter or cutting board and let everyone help themselves. I love the caramelized sweetness that the honey imparts and the tang of the cider vinegar. Don't let the ginger and the soy sauce scare you, they really do help flavor and tenderize the meat without making it too Asian. This steak goes well with most anything, even chips and guacamole, a standard here in Oklahoma. Someone in the food business once told me that the #1 day for avocado sales in America is Superbowl Sunday. I am not surprised.

I am sorry to say that I don't have a picture to show you. Like I said, I've been busy, but I am still here, and hope to begin cooking again soon in a new kitchen with a pantry and only a few minutes from not one, but TWO(!) grocery stores. I will think I've died and went to heaven.

Honey-Grilled Flank Steak
adapted from Southern Living

1 (2 pound) flank steak
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place steak in a large heavy-duty, zip-top bag or shallow dish. Combine oil and remaining 7 ingredients; pour over steak. Seal or cover, marinate in fridge 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Remove steak from marinade, reserving marinade. Bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan; set aside. Grill steak approximately 10 minutes on each side, basting with reserved marinade the last 5 minutes.

To serve, slice steak diagonally, across the grain.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Secret Network Mandated Prerequisite

Do you ever have moments of ADD?

I tend to bore easily and then my mind wanders and I get lost in my own thoughts. This happens a lot. For example, just the other day, right in the middle of a conversation with my daughter, I kept smiling attentively while she spoke of minor issues -like supper and boyfriends and college and the new administration - and then my brain went off and took a little walk all by itself, as it often does, ignoring the task at hand, firing random thoughts at the most inopportune time when I desperately need a coherent thought the most. It is very frustrating.

The thought process went something like this ...

Supper? Hmm ... Ina made delectable looking onion rings the other day. Those might be good. I do like Ina. Anytime a gal over the age of 40 and the size 14 can make it on TV, I'm behind her. But I do like Giada, too. Hmm ... That's sort of funny, both their names end with the letter A. And then there's Julia, the first cook I ever saw on television, who's name also ends in the letter A. Wow, that's an interesting coincidence. Pretty cool. Flash. The synapses in my brain start firing. These gals all have names ending with the letter A. Oh my, Martha suddenly burst into my brain. Her name ends with the letter A. This is weird. Oprah has her own show. But she's not a cook. And technically her name doesn't end with the letter A, but it sounds like an A. Well, my brain rationalizes, she does cook for Steadman, and she does like food a lot, so I'll include her on the list as well. Compulsively, I did a quick rundown: Ina, Nigella, Julia, Giada, Martha, Oprah ... Oh my, I almost forgot about Paula. And then there's Lidia from Lidia's Italy on PBS. I like her, too. Wow, this is weird. Coincidence? Or is this some type of secret network mandated prerequisite for having your own show? Suddenly I envisioned Julia, the goddess of all television chefs, asserting in her marbled voice: Now, anyone can cook, but in order to have your own show, you must have a name that ends with the letter A.

Finally I heard my daughter's voice echoing in the recesses of my mind: Mom, Mom, are you listening? Perhaps, I tell her, I should begin calling myself Michella.

I really enjoyed the full moon this weekend. There is something so peaceful and serene about a full moon on a cold, wintry night. I especially liked the purple color of the eastern sky at dusk.

I haven't cooked much lately - nothing new anyway. Just the same old quick meals. We've got our house on the market and things have been a bit hectic, to say the least. So I am curious, what's your go-to meal when you need to whip up supper up in a hurry? My family is tired of the same old stuff. And I gotta admit, I'm in a bit of a rut and having trouble concentrating. As you can see.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

AMFD (Acute Mexican Food Deprivation)

I am a firstborn child, and this in turn tends to make me a bit bossy.

It's not my fault. It's a scientific fact that firstborns tend to be orderly, organized, bossy, and dominant.

I heard it once on one of those morning shows and read about it in Time magazine.

I also have a couple younger siblings and an extremely tolerant husband (who happens to be the baby of five) who wholeheartedly agree with this harsh reality.

Normally I try to suppress it. But today? Today bossy is good. Because you will be happy when I exercise my authority and tell you to go out right now and buy the ingredients to make this soup and then go straight home and make it. I'm telling you, do it today(!).

I do love all food. French, German, Italian, they're all great. But my husband tells me that I must have been a Mexican in a past life for I do love Mexican food. My family tires of it sometimes. But I never do. A friend of mine once told me that when she and her husband moved to Europe for a year, the thing she missed most about home was Mexican food. She even went through withdrawals and we came up with a name for her condition: AMFD, Acute Mexican Food Deprivation. It is curable, but only by eating buckets of salsa or visiting a Ted's Escondido (a locally owned restaurant.)Consequently, this harsh reality of a life without Mexican food was more than I could bear. It has ruined all dreams I have ever had of living on the other side of the pond. A life without Mexican food is, well, unimaginable.

So now you can see why it came as no surprise to me to find that my favorite new soup is now Yucatan Chicken-Lime Soup.

I found this recipe in The Daily Soup Cookbook. And one of the things I liked best about it is that I had most of it's ingredients on hand: chicken, rice, cilantro, Mexican oregano and chipotle chili's are staples in my house.

One ingredient, however, avocado leaves, are a little more difficult to come by. Not too many avocado trees in Oklahoma. So I had to do without. But this gives me something to look forward to. First chance I get, I'm driving to a local asian market (they have just about everything) to see if I can find some avocado leaves there and then I'll be headed straight home again to try out another batch of this soup. I have never cooked with avocado leaves before, so if anyone knows what they are like, please let me know.

Another ingredient I used in place of the chopped, dried chipotle pepper, was dried chipotle granules, which I found in the spice isle at Supertarget. One whiff of this potent little gem of a spice, and you'll appreciate their fiery, smoky flavor. I always keep 'em on hand. And the bossy, big sis in me says that you should too.

This soup begins with a rich, succulent, chicken broth, surrounded with an intoxicating aroma of dried chipotle chili, and canned chipotle in adobo sauce, along with a hint of epozate and generous amounts of fresh, chopped onion, verdant bell peppers, garlic, rice, and chicken making up the body of the soup. Then topping it off with plenty of fresh lime juice, chopped green onion and cilantro. I feel obliged to warn you, however, this is an addictive soup. And, as usual, my picture doesn't do it justice. But if you like Mexican food and Tortilla Soup, I suggest you try this recipe. Just remember to go easy on the chipotle peppers, they're pretty hot.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Just For Luck

Things have been a bit hectic lately, and I am sorry to say, there has been little time for soup, and I really do feel bad about that. Some people go to the end of their days with regrets, and I only have one, and that is, I wish I had more time for soup. But I did find time to make a nice pot of black eyed peas today, just for luck.

Also, for those living in the OKC area, I was able to enjoy a tasty bowl of Enchilada Soup at the Beatnix Cafe on 13Th street between Robinson and Broadway this week. My son, whom I'd mercilessly drug along on a shopping trip - food bribery always works with him - devoured his grilled turkey sandwich with jalapeno and said it was one of the best he'd ever eaten. We stopped by in the middle of the afternoon, so it wasn't too crowded - and I suppose that is what I liked best about this little place - it's quiet, laid back atmosphere. And the art. They had great art. And great coffee mugs. Which is always a bonus in my book.

I really do hope this place does well. OKC needs more places like this. And my only regret is that I don't live closer  so I could walk there every day, for coffee and for lunch, and then mosey back home again to one of the historic mansions nearby, to my cats, and read books, and eat more soup. It would be such a glorious life(!).

I am looking forward to the new year and getting back to my regular routine of posting again. I have missed you all and want to thank everyone for stopping by and allowing me this outlet of sharing my thoughts and recipes, and want to wish everyone a Happy and Delicious New Year!

And, oh, yes, I am usually not one for New Years resolutions, but this year, I am going to take some inspiration from the Beatnix Cafe, and my goals are to listen to some good music, relax a little, hang out with my kids, and most of all, eat more soup.

Take care!