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June 15th, 2004

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06:09 pm - Cooking without fear
Forget about proper ingredients. Forget about proper measurements, proper equipment, or any level of food snobbery you may have or wish to aspire to having.

The secret of cooking is to have no fear.

Point #1: Mom always encouraged us kids to fool around in the kitchen when we could. The one rule was, naturally, that you had to eat what you cooked. Experimentation rocks, as long as you're aware of your surroundings and what you have, so you don't end up with something completely inedible. Sometimes you end up with something so preposterous, you can't believe it's enjoyable, but it is -- this explains my youthful fondness for devilled eggs made of mustard and peanut butter instead of mustard and mayonnaise. (For years afterwards, when Mom made devilled eggs, she always made two or three that way just for me.)

Point #2: I am in no way, shape or form a gourmet. Lowbrow eatin can be just as fulfilling and satisfying as highbrow eatin -- and sometimes a hell of a lot better. Life's too short to be a snob, anyway. Snobs miss out on a lot of cool things.

Point #3: Food tastes better when it's free. That much is true. But food also tastes better if you get it on the cheap, make something better out of it, and know it.

Today I picked up a 1/3 pound steak at Shaw's for 75 cents. Yes, the first thing I did was check the Sell-By date, and it was sufficiently far enough into The Future that I knew I could cook it up tonight and have no problem. Well, there was one problem -- when you're considering a 75-cent steak is the best deal you've found all week, you probably don't have a lot of money (HAY THATS ME) and further capital expenditure to just get something for one steak is silly. So I knew I could take it home with me and do something with what I already had. But what did I have? Huh. Wasn't sure.

And after one year of living up on the third floor, I have actually yet to use the oven or the broiler. The range is as ancient as they come -- there's a "heatalator" on the side that heats my whole apartment, that's how old it is. When I checked the oven and broiler, I realized I'd have to clean the bejeezus out of 'em before I could really use 'em.

I do have a frying pan, though, that I love dearly.

After a little handholding on a BBS, I decided to marinade the steak, sear it a bit in the pan, then simmer it with the marinade. I admit I showed a bit of timidness in asking questions, cause I honestly hadn't ever really cooked up a steak in the pan before. I just needed a few tips, that's all. (I also had to explain that no, I didn't have nothing fancy. Like peppercorns or bay leaves. You usually don't buy those when you're trying to eat on $20 a week. But I digress.)

After rummaging thru the fridge and the other shelves, I came up with this marinade:
  • Orange juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt n Pepa (shoop)
  • One shot of bourbon (two shots, actually, in the Justin Wilson tradition -- one for the cook, one for the food)
Not a lot of measuring -- just enough OJ in the dish to cover the steak as I soaked it, soy sauce for coloring and saltiness, and ok, one shot of bourbon. Patted the steak dry, salt 'n pepper added again for rubbiness, then seared/browned in pan and marinade added for to simmer for 20 minutes.

The verdict? DELICIOUS.

And you can do it, too. You just can't be timid or askeert. It ain't gonna kill you.

I think this is another step forward in the culinary reclamation of, er, my place. And I ain't complainin about it one bit. No, sir. Anything that removes fear is a good thing, as far as I'm concerned, and anyone can do it. Even you!

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:June 15th, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC)
Fear must not taste good, because no-fear sounds delicious.
Date:June 15th, 2004 06:02 pm (UTC)

Cooking with Spatch

You need your own cooking show, and a series of coffe table books on COOKING WITH SPATCH.

I am not kidding. I sense money in this.
[User Picture]
Date:June 15th, 2004 07:44 pm (UTC)
You have just learned the sekrit to gourmet cookin'.

(which is, also, btw, the sekrit to computer hardware servicin' and sexual relashuns)

If you have fear that you're gonna fuck something up?
You do.

P.S. I totally learned what combinations of spices taste good together by putting them in my boxed macaroni and cheese.

Now I am good cooker! People eat my food and don't spit it out, and often they go YUM and ask for seconds and thirds. So hooray for no fear!
[User Picture]
Date:June 16th, 2004 05:05 am (UTC)
It sounds delicious. I loves me a good steak.
[User Picture]
Date:June 16th, 2004 05:08 am (UTC)
The best way I've found to cook a steak if you don't have a grill -- and I've only used this technique for ribeyes, so it's for good eatin' -- is to stick a cast iron pan in the oven to preheat, add a teensy tiny bit of butter to the pan and then slap those steaks in and cook them in the oven. Whatever spices you like, although I mostly stick to salz und pfeffer and maybe some Old Bay just for giggles. DELISH.

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