Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Just got back from my favorite race, an 8K that runs through the most beautiful neighborhood in my fair city. More than that, the race benefits brain injury association, and my father was head injured. There's a moment at the start of the race where they introduce the year's honoree and that hard road of recovery. Always get a lump in the throat.

It's also on Memorial Day, and this is a particularly powerful combination since many of the vets returning from Iraq and Middle East have sustained head injuries. Took a moment at the opening prayer and the national anthem to remember the vets.

I would have to say my training regimen is, well, less than strict. We worked on building the perfect margarita last night. If you know me, you know I can only have a couple drinks of hard stuff and I am giddy. Any more, and I am asleep. Yes, I have left my own party before to go lie down. Some host.

BB's Two Drink Maximum Margarita
1.5 oz good tequila
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz; agave nectar
1.5 oz. Corona beer
3/4 oz. Triple Sec

Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice. Strain over crushed ice. Makes a tall one. The agave comes from the same cactus used to make the tequila. This replaces simple syrup with something that has more flavor and married well with the tequila. These are tart and not sticky sweet. And strong.

Served this with grilled steak and vegetable salads. The spouse does the grilling.
Grilled Steak Salad
For the rub
1 tsp. Ancho chile powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tbsp. canola oil

1 lb. sirloin steak
mesquite chips, soaked in water
Rub the meat with the oil and spices before grilling. Add the chips over the coals.

1 bunch spring onions, with a few inches of green attached
2 tbsp. butter in small pieces
1 oz. tequila (happy onions)
salt and pepper to taste

1-2 red peppers, rubbed with canola oil

1 lb. batch roasted tomatoes
(split tomatoes in half, toss with 1 tbsp. canola oil, 1 tsp. brown sugar, salt and pepper. Roast in 450 degree oven for 10 minutes).

4 cups fresh salad greens
1/2 cup crumbled queso blanco cheese

Dressing, Whisk together
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ancho chile pepper
salt and pepper to taste

Some assembly required. Okay. The onions get packed in a double layer of foil and go onto the grill for 30 minutes, indirect heat. The red pepper gets a nice sear and some indirect time. Meat gets about 4-6 minutes a side depending on how thick your steak is and how rare you like your meat. The wet chips go on the coals to make some nice smoke.

After the meat rests, slice it thin. Top the greens with the onions, tomatoes and peppers and beef. Drizzle on dessing and top with the queso fresco crumbles.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Radish Chimichurri

I have to say, I have never loved radishes. I can eat one, bit of salt, but it's not a taste I love. It is an interesting flavor, though. A kind of sharp, spicy that could go well with other tastes. But what?

Always, always, turn to what else is in season. What's growing alongside the radish? Spring. Herbs. Mint. Cilantro.

The idea reminded me of a sauce I had on meat at an Argentinian restaurant — chimchurri. Generally made with parsely, but maybe that tangy bite could work.

It does. Well. Served on grilled flank steak. Enjoy.

Radish Chimichurri
1/2 cup cilantro, packed leaves
1/4 cup parsley, packed leaves
1/4 cup mint, packed leaves
20 small radishes, 1/2-1 inch diameter
4 spring onions, white plus 1 inch of green
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
1/8-1/4 crushed red pepper

Add radish to food processor and pulse, add onions, pulse. Add herbs, drizzle in oil and vinegar with processor running. Blend in salt and red pepper. Desired texture is coarse, not a puree.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Hope you are having an easy Sunday.

I'm the last person to give advice on gardening or parenting. But, hey, it's the day, so here goes. I've been out weeding under the watchful gaze of the Buddha rock. He sits in the garden and reminds me about patience. The weeds will always come back and the work I put in only lasts so long. Over time, planting perennials, though, the ugly corner under the trees is taking shape.

What does this have to do with parenting? A few thoughts that came to mind while in the garden. First, it takes constant work. It's a lot easier to keep the garden going if you pay attention to it. Pulling weeds before they take over, when they are just a small problem. Constant work.

I tend to only plant perennials. The first year, they did not look like much. But each year, they grow. I like planting the seeds that will grow for a long time and take on a life of their own.

Finally, the garden is a bit of chaos. Some ivy from under the fence, a present from the neighbor. No planning at all, just placing bulbs here and there where there's an open spot. It would be a master gardener's nightmare. But I like the wildness. I like to let the plants just go. A little wildness makes things stronger.

I'll never be one for bonsai. Keeping a tree tiny and bound is not my approach to gardening or parenting. The beauty of a grown tree, bent against the wind, roots deep, branches reaching for the sky. That's the way it should be.