First Official Meal of the New Blog Year

It’s so weird how weather in the desert works. One day in January the wind is blowing so hard trees have fallen and the main highway looks like the Great Dust Bowl of the 30’s, the next morning starts bright and sunny then suddenly starts raining from a mixture of gray/white clouds with the sun poking through, and then the NEXT day (today) is so beautiful and warm that Jeremiah decided it was acceptable to sunbathe shirtless by the pool. IN JANUARY!! Could’ve sworn it was a 30-40 degree winter like a week ago…

In honor of such randomly awesome weather, we decided to do lunch on the grill. Yay! I got about a pound of Top Sirloin Filets from Trader Joe’s (not my first choice for steak, but 1. they have a limited selection, and 2. I was going to sauce it up anyway) for only about $10. Our neighborhood has a cute little Farmer’s Market in Old Town every Sunday and I frequent ours whenever I’m able to spend a little more on local organic fare. If money weren’t an issue I’d go totally organic and only support local businesses, so great for many reasons, and I figure even if we can’t go all the way the more we include in our diet the better. Anyway, I had a few $1 wooden chips (like credits) and a good weekend of tips, so we went crazy on Sunday! Huge tomatoes, bartlett pears, squash, zucchini, monstrous cucumbers, buttery avocados, celery, whole-leaf fresh spinach, fuji apples, fresh-baked bread, and something different this time… mixed wild mushrooms. I was so excited for these and at the time I didn’t even have any idea what I’d do with them. Today they found their calling: Balsamic Glazed Strip Steak! The Pampered Chef has a cookbook called Grill It Quick (only $7.50) with only grill-inspired dishes, and although I hadn’t gotten New Yorks, I figured this could definitely work.

Now the final photo does not do it justice, mainly because I have yet to master my plating skills. At least I’ve mastered my cutting-up-and-stuffing-in-mouth skills, because this was DELICIOUS!! Great flavors, light enough for lunch, and sooooo easy to make. It actually doesn’t specify the type of mushroom needed and the recipe pic had button mushrooms, but our wild medley was perfect for this and it didn’t drown them in a thick sauce to where you’d lose all the intense flavor. So the cliffnotes version of the recipe is in three parts: the balsamic reduction (just olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic boiled down), the grilled mushrooms and onions (halved/sliced, tossed in olive oil and paprika) and of course the steak (simply rubbed with salt and pepper, and then basted with most of the balsamic reduction). It was topped with bleu cheese crumbles, drizzled with the remaining balsamic reduction, and served over a bed of sliced beefsteak tomatoes. THAT’S IT! And it was fabulous.

Since by no means am I perfect, I did of course make a few booboos. I have a tendency to overthink things sometimes, and for the purpose of this blog (as I’m sure I’ll be screwing things up many many times from here on out) I will call it pulling a Heather. Pulling a Heather 1. I halved the steaks. Since they weren’t the right kind and weren’t very striplike, my brain said “hey! let’s cut them horizontally and have twice as much!” Unfortunately it made them quite thin, and they cooked faster than we could monitor. We love our steaks medium rare to medium at most, but luckily it was still tasty well done and we caught them before they became beef jerky. Next time, I’ll leave the fat steaks alone and not try to make them so “L.A.” (get it? even the steaks are too skinny, haha). Pulling a Heather 2. I don’t like onions, but there are certain ones I can tolerate in certain ways. So I ignored the recipe’s call for large onions and went the shallot route instead. Again, great flavor and they got nice and crispy when I grilled the mushroom mixture, but some fell through the cracks of my grill basket ($28.50) when I shook it. The recipe said to leave the mix undisturbed, but I just can’t leave things alone so of course I stirred them and lost a few to the barbecue gods. Oh well. Someday I’ll get the grill tray (it has a closer mesh than the basket) and it won’t matter what size onions I use. Overall, however, I’d call it a successful meal and I will definitely make it again. Now I’m off to work to help others have “successful meals.” Have a great night!


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