Friday, February 5, 2010
Where's the Beef? Culinary Throw Down Wiener
I can’t believe we’re already one month and some pocket change into the New Year. 2010. Good Lord, what’s next . . . 2055? 3032? I’m just not ready for the way time is beginning to fly in my life. In fact, I’d like some of it back, please, maybe a big ol’ honkin’ chunk of my summer break childhood when I can remember the days stretching out before me, a shimmering highway of possibility in which time actually seemed to stand still enough that I could touch it.
Anyway. Know what time it is today? Time to declare the winner of another splendid Culinary Throw Down, this one hosted by Karl, who chose the theme beef and/or beans. And boy, did y’all step up to the stove (Buzz, Allison, and K9, we missed you!). In fact, I’m just itching with curiosity about the spaces in which we all craft our entries. Next Throw Down we should all post a photo of our kitchens as well.
But for now, let’s see how things shook out, shall we?
Aunty hit the ball right out of the park with her rib eye steaks with coffee and black pepper rub. But not just any steak. Grass fed steak. Aunty is nothing if not a steely eyed warrior (albeit in kitten heels) against food terror of all kinds, and if you visit her Web site with any regularity, you’ll see just why the words "corn fed beef" should have us all shaking in our space boots. This entry shot an arrow straight through my heart. With all due respect to my beloved vegetamarian friends, I just can’t quit beef. It’s in my blood and it's part of my heritage. And yes, Aunty, New Mexico is blessed with numerous boutique ranches that raised happily wandering herds gorging themselves on dozens of varieties of grasses. I’ve always wanted to try a coffee rub, but what I most want to know is: if I make this, will I be up all night?
Did y’all feel that? That slight grumbling of the ground beneath you? That sudden stillness of the wind, followed by a waft of ozone in the air? That’s what happened earlier this week when Boxer put down her video camera, picked up her oven mitts, and actually cooked. The universe. It stood still. But I’ve seen her kitchen. Her oven doesn’t work. So I don’t know who she had to charm to make her quite tasty-looking dinner (soy meatless meatloaf, vegetable compote, potato medallions), but you can for damn sure bet a bottle of vodka was involved.
Once upon a time, I dragged my behind over to Cake’s blog and said: “See this? This is the ass we are going for here. So I don’t want to hear another word from you about skipping out on our daily work out in favor of surfing the sofa with an entire bag of Mother’s Circus Animal Cookies, a jar of Marshmallow Fluff, and an entire bottle of Chardonnay.” Now I know why Cake’s ass looks like that. Ruf cooks her splendidly prepared vegetamarian goodies like these refried beans that are not only yummy, but totall free of animal fats of all kinds. Which in my universe? Do not Pass Go, do not Collect $200, but get applied directly to hips, ass, and thighs.
A couple posts back, Fishy wrote an entry about her attempts to find a new car that had the kind of “fizz” that she requires in a vehicle. I suspect that for a gal who makes her living creating beautiful and functional interiors, fizz is an important ingredient in just about everything she does. Including cooking. For this challenge, she made a lemon mint London broil salad with lightly steamed green beans, and my mouth just puckers with pleasure when I think of it. It’s simple, it’s colorful, it’s well balanced, and it just begs to be eaten outside on a sunny day on a veranda overlooking the Mediterranean while wearing white linen and big sunglasses. Which is what Fishy does best: prod us all to achieve as much fizz as possible from life.
I swear; I gained five pounds just LOOKING at Florida Cracker’s entry for this challenge. Steak with mushrooms, green beans, and salad? Gulp. So simple, yet so, so mouthwatering, I nearly braved the gazillion feet of snow that fell on Wednesday to head to the store to buy a steak and make this right then and there. Between her and Aunty, I dreamt steak that night. And did y’all see that mud pie? Seriously. Go back and look at it. And then go tell your arteries they can kiss your grits, life’s too short not to go ahead and once, just this once, indulge in a thing of beauty like that.
Thanks to Karl, somewhere in India, a computer technician is sitting down to a nice dinner of poppadom, tandoor chicken, and lassi. Late Tuesday, our intrepid host for this Throw Down encountered the Blue Screen of Death and didn’t know if he’d be able to post. Undaunted, he slid in under the wire with a beef and bean medley that sparked within me a sudden epiphany about global warming: What if the cause isn’t in fact fossil fuels, but beans? As for the dish itself, well there’s only one thing I can say about something that features strips of beef, beans, cheese, black olives, avocado, and salsa, and that’s: Ole!
This year in Oklahoma, the wind wasn’t the only thing that came sweeping down the plains. So did snow and ice in such quantities, the weather began to beg the question: what region does Oklahoma really belong in? The West or the Midwest? I sure hope the answer is the West, because if ever there were a true blue urban cowgirl, it’s our gal Kym. She hunts, she fishes, she knows her sports, and she can deftly navigate an ice-sheeted I-40 without putting herself or anyone else in danger. She can also cook like nobody’s business. This time? Baked beans and braised short ribs, the kind of dish that I bet tickled the olfactory senses of everyone in her neighborhood.
It’s super bowl week in Miami (Geaux, Saints!), so La Diva Cucina has been working her hiney off, but she still had time to post another of her monumentally mouth watering dishes: Stir-fried beef and crunchy noodle cake with triple happiness beans. Happiness being the operative word here. Because as I was reading through this dish, baby, it was cold outside, yet joy was warming its way through my bones like the sunshine that I haven’t seen since Jesus last walked the earth. Can it be said too many times that food is love? I think not. And La Diva, you spread it where ever you go. Mmmmmmmm-wah.
There’s a song by the B-52s called “Give Me Back My Man” that always reminds me of Troll whenever he comes a courtin’ Moi round about Throw Down time: “I’ll give you fish/I’ll give you candy/I’ll give you everything I have in my hand.” Which, unfortunately, didn't include a pair of Louboutins, size 8.5, candy apple red patent leather. With peep toe. Seriously, though, Troll doesn’t need to bribe me; he comes by his ego honestly. Man can cook. Each Throw Down, he doesn’t make just one dish, but an entire meal, thoughtfully planned out and complete with cocktail. This time it was a t-bone steak salad, followed by red beans and rice, baked onion rings (!!), three kinds of chocolate puddings, and vodka infused with my favorite running fuel – Sports Beans. Goodness. All of which means, I nearly gave the award to Troll, Louboutins or no.
Instead, I had to go with my gut and my gut said: comfort food. Which to me was epitomized in Kymie's dish. What better way to cap off a snowy, sleety, icey, gale force windy day than with a hearty pot of smoky/sweet baked beans and wine-soaked, fall-off-the-bone short ribs, everything tinged with the tongue pleasing taste of bacon? So, congrats, missy! Come pluck yourself a copy of the Big Beefy Dude and display it proudly. AND, you get to choose next Throw Down date, theme, and perhaps judge.
Now, everybody, get in line; I’ve just rented us all a bus to Oklahoma.