Tuesday, December 09, 2008

This meal is cursed

Tonight's Menu

  • grilled skirt steak
  • sweet potato fries
  • caramelized Brussels sprouts w/lemon
Tonight's dinner was a duplicate of our dinner from October 11th which, as you can see if you follow that link, featured a number of mishaps.

This time I decided to grill the steak indoors on the stovetop using my beloved IKEA grill pan (not only was it dark when I started dinner, but it was extremely windy and chilly). Also, I peeled the sweet potatoes into a bowl rather than running the peels down our wonky disposal. So far so good, right?


My portable kitchen timer, which I use EVERY SINGLE NIGHT while preparing dinner, decided to crap out on me while the meat was in the grill pan. I was attempting to grill it for 5 minutes per side -- one minute more per side than when I grill it outdoors, to compensate for the fact that the stovetop grill pan isn't covered like the big outdoor grill is. I put the meat on, set the timer for five minutes, turned away to unload the dishwasher, then checked the timer when I was pretty sure at least four minutes had passed. The display said I still had four minutes left to go! Wuh? The timer was running, but it was taking several seconds for each SINGLE second to tick down. Argh!

Fortunately I discovered it in time to save the meat, but still. I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't make this meal again! As delicious as it is, I think someone is trying to tell me something!

Sunday, December 07, 2008


Tonight's Menu

  • bean soup with ham
  • beer bread
DH and I have been in the mood for bean soup, even though he's totally allergic to it (yes, in addition to poultry and soy, he's allergic to BEANS). I had a big, meaty ham bone in the freezer (left over from Thanksgiving, see: allergic to poultry) so I decided to use that up in a nice big pot of soup.

What I did was buy one of those bags of 15-bean soup mix and discard the seasoning packet. I totally don't trust those seasoning packets, man. This one had soybean oil and hydrolyzed soy protein in it, which was reason enough for me to ditch it. (I think I had somehow convinced myself that the girl, who is violently allergic to soy, would want to try this soup. HAHAHA, what was I smoking?!)

Anyway, I kept the beans, obviously, and soaked them overnight. Then I drained and rinsed them the next day and set them aside while I got to work on the rest of the ingredients.

I chopped up half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic and sauteed them in some olive oil in a BIG pot. Before they were able to get any color on them, I tossed in two whole fresh bay leaves, several chopped leaves of fresh sage and a bunch of fresh thyme (all from my herb patch), along with maybe half a teaspoon of smoked paprika and half a tube of sundried tomato paste (1.5-2 tablespoons). Feel free to use regular paprika and plain ol' tomato paste from a can; I was using what I had. I stirred that around for several seconds until it started to smell AMAZING, then added the ham bone to the pot and dumped in the beans, along with a quart of vegetable broth (Pacific Organic -- again, it's what I had) and another quart of water. While that was coming to a boil, I stirred in some chopped fresh parsley (from the herb patch again!) and a tablespoon or so of brown sugar. I know, that sounds weird, but brown sugar goes great with beans and ham, y'all. TRUST ME.

Once it came to a boil I reduced the heat to low and just let it simmer away uncovered all afternoon. After two hours I removed the ham bone, scraped off the meat and diced it, then added the meat back to the pot. At that point I tasted the broth and adjusted the seasonings somewhat, adding the juice of half a lemon, a bit of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Altogether I cooked it for about 4.5 hours, tasting and adding more salt/pepper as needed and removing the bay leaves at the very end. Some of the beans broke down and thickened the broth quite a bit so that it was almost stew-like, which is just how I like it. If you like your broth a little thinner and your beans with more shape to them, you might want to only cook it for about 3 hours. Just be sure to taste, taste, taste as you go -- it's the only way to know when it's done to your liking and to get the seasonings right!

The girl wouldn't touch it, and DH had just a little taste, but the boy and I LOVED it and went back for seconds. I stirred just a tiny bit of sriracha into my bowl and washed it down with a cold glass of unfiltered apple cider and it was heavenly!

The beer bread is a favorite here. I only use half the butter called for in the recipe and it comes out just fine. This time I used Shiner Hefeweizen for the beer and it yielded a very tasty loaf that went great with the soup.

I expect this soup to be even better tomorrow, so guess what we're having then? Yep, leftovers!