Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dinner, Day 1: steak, grits, and grilled vegetables

I've mentioned to friends a couple of times that I'd be willing to just jot down what we eat on a daily basis for about two weeks, though this may prove to be terribly boring to some of you. Now that school is starting and things are settling, this seems to be a good time, since I'll actually be home for two weeks.

I've been a little busy lately, which is nothing new, and I often forget to think about dinner until afternoon. Yesterday I was thinking we might be having cereal for dinner with everything going on, but my husband mentioned that he'd forgotten to bring lunch or lunch money, so I knew something more filling would be a better plan. Lucky for him, I had the right stuff hanging around.

I pulled a couple of ribeyes out of the freezer and set them out on the counter to thaw. Now, I know you're not supposed to do that. Meat should be thawed in the refrigerator. The problem is this: I've read that it takes about 24 hours per pound of meat to thaw in the refrigerator. You either need one day's advance notice on a small portion or a week and a half for guests if you're thawing anything. Let's not even talk about Thanksgiving turkey. The other bonus in my direction is that I have granite counters, which like to maintain an even temperature and will quickly conduct heat (of the room temperature variety) to the meat. It takes me about 2-3 hours to thaw 2 one-inch steaks from my deep freezer. That's not even getting into the danger zone for meat sitting out too long. (Meat should be kept below 40˚ F or above 140˚ F for safety reasons, as that will prevent bacteria growth.) Seriously, I shouldn't even be mentioning this. Don't follow my advice, because if you get sick I'm warning you this is not proper procedure and you can't sue me. Use your refrigerator for thawing, but plan WELL ahead.

Did I get sidetracked?

So, I thawed two large steaks, which would easily be enough for our family of five.

Last weekend, we took a quick trip to Boise to visit old and dear friends (not old and feeble; they're all still very young). We had a nice meal with three different families, and there was one pervading factor: fresh garden produce. We were even sent home to Utah with some of that produce, so I thickly sliced the zucchini and onion, brushed them with olive oil on both sides, and seasoned them with salt.

After lighting the grill, I cut some fresh tomatoes in half and removed the core and most of the juice inside each half. I drizzled a little olive on them, salted them, and topped them with sharp white Cheddar cheese and fresh thyme. They went into the oven at 425˚ for about half an hour.

We all really like grits, something I've discovered over this last year, and they're so easy to make, so I quickly pulled those together while grilling the steak (just salted), zucchini, and onions. My husband helped, since he really is master of the grill.

So, we had steak, grits, grilled zucchini and onions, and roasted tomatoes topped with cheese. It was absolutely delicious, and I could have left the steak off my plate if it hadn't been so good, too. There was something for everyone in my family, since we have our variety of picky eaters. And there was enough leftover for both parents to have a good lunch the next day.

In case you haven't made grits before, they're not only really easy, they're delicious (if you like corn) and fairly healthy in the standard starch-side-dish category. Unless you add a whole lotta cream and butter. I add a little; I like enough milk and bits of cream and butter to make it creamy tasting without being crazy high in fat. Also, I was never trained by a southerner, so keep in mind that I just make mine to taste really good, not to be authentic to anything in particular. I use yellow cornmeal, which I'm sure is so not the way to go, but it's handy for me, as I usually have yellow cornmeal in the pantry.

Sorry – no pictures!


1 c. yellow cornmeal
2 c. water
2 c. milk (skim to whole, you decide)
1/4 c. cream (or milk, if you don't want to)
3 T. butter (or as little as 1 T., if you're going light)
freshly ground black pepper, optional

In a medium-large saucepan, combine the milk and water with a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium high, then quickly whisk in the cornmeal.

When the mixture begins to boil, turn it down to medium or medium-low (depending on how much you'll be standing next to it) and whisk at least every 30 seconds, or continually, for about 10 minutes or so. Taste it a few times, and when the cornmeal is tender, the grits are done.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, then the cream or milk. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve warm.


Watcher said...

I love grits. I just make the Quaker Oats "Quick Grits" (because I am a total kitchen-tard) but I love them. Oddly, I eat them most often as a super-early breakfast before a hard training (bike) ride. Tastes great, and sticks with me for about 2-3 hours.

Heidi said...

Yummy, can't wait to try them out...especially since I have everything to make them for tonight!

Rachel said...

Watcher, I haven't even investigated grits enough to know about the Quaker quick grits, but I'm sure they're delicious.

I'll have to try them for breakfast!

Andrea said...

Olivia requested polenta for dinner this evening... So glad I can find a recipe on your blog! Thank you again for a delicious evening earlier this month, and for introducing us all to polenta. I'll let you know if I succeed... :)