Post #477 The Start of Summer!

May 30, 2016 at 9:52 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #477 The Start of Summer!

Here in the States, this weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and the unofficial start of the summer season.  Typically, the heat ramps up, the rain stays away, breezes are pleasant, schools are finished, and some businesses start winding down.  Neighborhood block parties are more prevalent; barbeques are brought out of moth balls and fired up; outdoor furniture is cleaned up and set in place.  Here in our small town, families are getting together to enjoy the great weather.  Historic downtown is open and inviting all comers.  We have boat races on the river.  Flags are planted everywhere to honor our fallen heroes.  The neighbors across the street are enjoying a new puppy.  The neighbors behind us are smoking a beef brisket in preparation for barbeque sauce.  The aroma is amazing.

Our weekend started on Friday evening.  Oddly enough, I got off early on Friday so I was home by 7.  Weekend Guest was here.  Partner/Spouse had assembled the fire pit/outdoor table we purchased last year.  I had brought home a plastic Adirondack chair for him.  The grill was set by the chair grouping in the side yard.  The sun was about to set.  We had a few options for the evening but all I wanted to do was sit outside, enjoy the weather, drink a glass of wine, and watch the sun set.  So we did.

Partner/Spouse got the grill going using the briquette chimney.  Ever seen one of these?  They work great and use no chemicals.


You fill the top with charcoal, and place a wad of paper in the bottom.  The paper is set on fire and the chimney action pulls the heat upwards and lights the charcoal.  The chimney action continues to pull the heat up until eventually all the charcoal is alight.  It takes about twenty minutes and is a pleasant way to spend some time.  The live coals are spread out into the barbeque and more charcoal is added if necessary.

Partner/Spouse had the whole meal under control so all I had to do was sit, drink wine, and be my funny interesting usual self.  Then he put three different kinds of ribs on the grill.  He followed a technique we saw on America’s Test Kitchen and applied barbeque sauce in stages while cooking the ribs slowly.

I don’t even remember what else we had.  Roasted green beans?  Maybe.  Grilled focaccia bread?  Perhaps.  The meal was all about the ribs.  Good, tasty, tender ribs.

On Saturday, I had the day off.  We were all a little tired, so decided to just lounge around the house.  Partner/Spouse and I went to our local butcher and got a couple of ribeye steaks for dinner, and a peppermint plant, and some asparagus, and some fresh corn, some other things.  I decided to work around the yard a little.  We do container gardening for the most part and most of the pots were getting a little dry.  I saturated them, and gave the pansies a solid drink.  I moved the jasmine from the back to the front so they could enjoy the evening sun rather than the morning, noon, and afternoon sun.  I repotted the peppermint, and put together my electric trimmer which we bought months ago.  I intended to trim the bushes back, but after the trimmer was together, the search for the extension cords proved fruitless.  I have no idea where they are.  I know I boxed them up after the holiday season, but I don’t recall where I put that box.  I searched every box in the garage, then quit.  It was getting close to noon, and it was getting hot and muggy.  All the neighbors who had been out doing yard tasks had all gone inside.  So I mentally shrugged and said “To heck with it.”  Changed my sweaty shirt, took a shower, parked myself on the couch with my Kindle and read for the rest of the afternoon while the dogs and other people in the house alternately napped and watched television.

I wanted to try a new technique for cooking the steak and the corn so I started dinner about 6:30.  We soak our corn in salt water for a couple of hours before cooking it.  It keeps the corn tender and juicy.  I don’t eat corn, especially on the cob, so I take their word for it.  I turned the oven on 350 and wrapped the corn tightly in foil.  I put the corn in the oven for 30 minutes to roast.  For the steak, I wanted to try something different.  Normally, when cooking steak indoors, I use our cast iron grill pan and sear the steak on both sides, then finish in the oven.  This time, I wanted to reverse it because many experts have been saying recently that you have more control over the cooking process that way.

I turned the oven down to 215, set the steak on a cooling rack set into a rimmed baking sheet.  What I’d seen and read said to leave the steak for fifteen minutes, then turn it over.  Cook another fifteen minutes, then sear in a pan on the stove.    I must have misheard or misread because after fifteen minutes, the steak was still cold.  I flipped them, turned the heat up a bit, and left them for fifteen minutes.  They were starting to react to the heat by now, so I turned the heat up to 300, flipped the steak, and left them for another fifteen minutes.  They were finally at a point where I felt comfortable putting them in a pan on the stovetop.

While the steaks weren’t cooking, I set a big pot of water on to boil so I could blanch the asparagus.  I left them whole, cutting off only the bottom inch.  To blanch veggies, put a pot of water to furious boil, drop the veggies in for no more than three minutes, then remove them to an ice bath.  The ice bath is important to stop the veggies from cooking any longer.  I had two large skillets on the stove heating on low, waiting for the veggies and the steak.

While the veggies were in the ice bath, I cut up two large tomatoes and dressed them with olive oil and raspberry balsamic vinegar.  I added sunflower seeds, chopped green onion, and a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  That went into the fridge to chill.  I chopped some fresh garlic for the asparagus.  (Side note:  The “fresh” garlic we’ve been getting from various stores recently, for about the past three months, has been terrible.  The heads look fine, but when we open them and pull out the cloves, they’re either very dry, or have sprouted.  We’ve thrown away a lot of fresh garlic.  However, the fresh garlic we got yesterday was the best.  And it makes all the difference in the world.)  Anyway, I melted some butter in a large skillet over very low heat.  I put the garlic and some sunflower seeds in the butter and simmered them for about a minute to release their flavors, then added the asparagus.  I tossed them around to coat them evenly.  I turned the heat off and covered the pan and left it alone.

I pulled the steak out of the oven and placed them in the blazing hot skillet to sear.  I left them for four minutes for each side.  I turned the heat off when I flipped them so they wouldn’t get overdone.  The table was already set, so I put the corn on a plate (still in the foil) and onto the table.  The tomato salad came out and in place.  I put the asparagus in an oblong small serving dish inherited from Partner/Spouse’s mother.  The leftover garlic, butter, and seeds in the pan went onto the top of the veggies.  The steaks were already on the cutting board, resting, so I cut them into 1/2 inch thick strips and onto the table it went.

Dinner was served, and we ate with gusto!  It’s impolite to brag about your own culinary efforts, but everyone else said it was delicious.  It was, too.

Sunday, we had leftover ribs and fried cabbage.  Good stuff, easy to do, and fills an empty tummy.

Today, who knows?  Maybe I’ll bring home frozen pizza from the store, although I did hear rumors about chicken cutlets.


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