OPINION POLL–MEATLESS MONDAYS

First, let me admit my bias and prejudice.  I love meat.  I love steak.  I love chicken.  I love pork.  I love seafood and fish Lamb, duck, goose, turkey, alligator, and so much more.  If it walks or flies or swims, chances are good I’d like to taste it, or maybe smother it in chili, cheese, and onions.

Eat Mor Brokley
Eat Mor Brokley

Okay, glad I got that out of the way, because it matters in relations to what I’m thinking about today, which is meatless Mondays.  A local school district near where Mrs. Greenbean and I live recently announced it would be instituting a policy of not serving meat on Mondays in the school meal programClick here for a news story about it.  It didn’t take long for the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, Todd Staples, to weigh in on the subject and accuse the school district of starving children to death and worshiping satan.  Okay, maybe he didn’t go that far, but I read his op/ed in the newspaper, and that was kinda the tone of the whole thing.  Staples really seems worried about the vegetarian/vegan agenda.  Here is a part of what he said:

“Restricting children’s meal choice to not include meat is irresponsible and has no place in our schools . . . This activist movement called ‘Meatless Monday’ is a carefully orchestrated campaign that seeks to eliminate meat from Americans’ diets seven days a week—starting with Mondays.”

Now, here is where I stand.  As much as the Greenbeans love meat, it is not always the healthiest thing to eat.  It is also wise to cut back on the amount of meat you eat for health reasons.  Americans eat way too much meat, with many thinking it should be served at every meal, which is ridiculous.  For most of human history, meat has been a treat, something special, something to celebrate.  Periodically our household will intentionally cut back on our meat consumption, specifically during Lent or the summer months.

So, I’m not against meatless Mondays.  It might be a good thing.  But what I want to know is, how do you feel about it?  Please take a moment to vote in the opinion poll at the top, and please share on your social media so we can get as many votes as possible.  Thanks!

 

 

image from blogs.sxu.edu

 

 

SURF AND TURF WITH KRIS KRINGLE

If I ever owned a restaurant, I would put this dish on the menu and that is exactly what I would name it:  Surf and Turf With Kris Kringle.  Well, now that I think about it, I might name it Pan Fried Rudolph.  Either way, it would definitely be on the menu.

What is on the menu, you ask?  Nothing less than delicious, but you need back story, and story is my speciality.

Years ago, I don’t know when, the exact year and time has been lost in the fuzziness of eggnog and peppermint candy, but years ago Mrs. Greenbean informed me she was tired of turkey or ham for Christmas dinner.  She fumed that by the time we got to the big day, she was already so tired of it that she couldn’t stand it.  I tried to talk her into something dramatic like goose or turduken or maybe even lamb with those funny white hats on the bone arranged like a crown but she wasn’t buying it.  “Then,” I lovingly asked, “what do you want.””

Steak and shrimp,” she replied.

Ever since that fateful day steak and shrimp has been what we serve at Christmas.  Every year it is good, but this year, ohhhh, this year I nailed it.

STEAK

4 large ribeyes salted, peppered, sprinkled with garlic powder, basil, and oregano on top.  

Heat cast iron skillets (it takes me two skillets with the four steaks) on stove top and put generous amounts of butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, and oregano (If you like a little punch, put a tad bit of red wine or white vinegar in the pan as well).  Let the pans get hot—sizzling hot.  Pop the steaks into the pan unseasoned side down.  Let it cook for 2 minutes, then flip it over.  Let it cook for two more minutes.

Pop steaks still in the skillet into a preheated oven at 450 degrees and allow it to finish cooking.  Six more minutes in the oven is a medium rare steak.  Eight more minutes is medium.  Ten more minutes is well done.  I cooked mine six.  Had I been alone and not having anything else with it, I would have cooked mine five and served it bleeding.  Yum.

SHRIMP

1 pound of raw shelled, cleaned, and veined shrimp.  I could go fresh and raw, but its Christmas, and the whole point is to not spend all day in the kitchen.

Dredge the washed shrimp through flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Drop them into a skillet (not a cast iron skillet, but one with a lid) that has been drizzled with olive oil and fresh diced garlic.  Let them saute about 1 minute on each side, and then fish them out of the pan.  Drop a stick of butter and a half a cup of chicken broth into the pan and bring to a boil (it will not take long).  Resist the urge to put flour into the butter/broth soup and make gravy.  Put the shrimp back in, cover, and let simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Turn off heat and let set, but serve soon.

Now, here is the joy.  I cook the steak and the shrimp pretty much at the same time.  So, there are skillets, butter, and seasonings flying like reindeer all over the kitchen.  The real benefit though, is that the total cook time is only about 25 minutes and it is so delicious it feels like you are in a fancy smancy restaurant.  I served these two delights with a bit of shrimp cocktail, steamed broccoli, raw carrots, dinner rolls, and large foil wrapped  baked potatoes.

Maybe, in my imaginary restaurant, I will call this dish a Sizzling Santa’s Sleigh.

STEAK AND FISH TACOS

I really should be working on tomorrow’s sermon, but instead I’m still thinking about the delicious food from the previous week.  Don’t worry, the sermon for tomorrow has been written for about a month now; I just need to look over it and make whatever last minute changes need to be made.  I’ll get to it, eventually.  But for now, let’s think about food!

Fish Tacos:  Wednesday night my small group had a fish theme.  I just assumed everyone would bring a variation of salmon, so I decided not to go that route.  Instead I made fish tacos.  Usually my fish tacos feature halibut, but the halibut was $20.00 a pound!  I love my small group, but not that much!  So instead I opted for swordfish.  I’ve never cooked swordfish before, so that was fun.

The swordfish was nice and firm and cut into steaks.  All I had to do was trim the skin off the edges and then slice into thin taco appropriate sizes.  Then I cooked it for about four minutes in a hot skillet with about two tablespoons of olive oil.  While it cooked I sprinkled a bit of sea salt, pepper, and garlic.  After it finished cooking, I squeezed some lemon juice on top.  I was so pleasantly surprised at how tasty the swordfish was.  Why have I never used that before?

I served the fish with fresh cabbage and salsa.  The only regret I have is that I used corn tortillas.  I have come to the conclusion that I really do not like corn tortillas.  I am a flour tortilla man.

BTW–no one brought salmon to the group.  Instead, we had a spectacular array of fish and seafood that I legitimately think we could have charged $35 a plate.

Steak:  Mrs. Greenbean’s birthday was this week.  She didn’t want to go out for dinner, instead she wanted surf an turf at home.  The shrimp was easy and doesn’t require much thought.  I went to the local butcher (Farmer George) and had Mrs. Greenbean pick out her cut of beef.   She and I got a t-bone and we picked up some thick New York Strips for the girls.  I originally intended to grill these beauties (the steaks, not the girls) but I discovered that my grill is in bad shape and needs to be cleaned up from its winter hibernation.  Plan B–the cast iron skillet.  I learned/developed this technique about five years ago, but I don’t do it very often because I enjoy grilling outside.

Because the t-bones are so large, I had to use both of my cast iron skillets.  But don’t start with the skillet, start by putting the oven on custom broil–500 degrees.  Then, drizzle the bottom of the pan with my father’s special slather–butter, white vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  While the skillet is heating, brush it on the steaks and put more fresh cracked pepper on them.  If you really like that pepper crust feel, crack a lot of it into the skillet itself.  Once the skillet is sizzling hot, put the steaks in the skillet and cook for a minute and a half.  Then flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time.  Immediately take the whole skillet and put it into the oven–middle rack.  If you like your steak rare–leave it for 2 minutes.  If you like it medium, 4 minutes.  Well done should be left in for 6 minutes.  Of course, these times vary with the thickness of the steak.

Let the meat sit for about five minutes and then enjoy!

CADILLACS, BEEF, AND LIGHT BULBS

Wednesday morning we left Tucumcari, New Mexico and headed east toward the tiny hamlet of Hughes Springs where I was raised.  Since that time I have been running off -grid because apparently my folks farm is surrounded by a low-level dampening field blocking all internet signals.  Today, though, we ventured out to McDonald’s restaurant in the neighboring village of Daingerfield.  McDonald’s has free wi-fi if you buy a soda.  Here are some highlights of the last couple of days.

1.  Cadillac Ranch–two really exciting things happened in Amarillo, Texas.  The first one is that we stopped at the famous Cadillac Ranch.  If you’ve never heard of this, it is a row of planted Cadillacs in the dirt like flagpoles, hood down.  It is quite odd.  It has been this way since the ’70’s and people now come and spray paint, write, and see the famous Caddies.  It is closely akin to Carhenge, a place we saw last year.  The difference is that the Cadillac Ranch is not tied to any commercial venture.  No one is making a dime off of this.  It simply exists.

2.  The Big Texan–Also in Amarillo is the Big Texan steakhouse.  This is the original famous “if you eat its free’ steak.  If you eat a 72 ounce steak and all the fixins in less than an hour, it is free.  Of course, they make you pay ahead of time.  Now, to keep you from wondering, I did not attempt this.  We did eat steak, but not that much.  It was quite a Route 66 tourist trap but we loved it anyway.

3.  The Coming Light Bulb Apocalypse–Yesterday I “carried” my mother to the store to get a bill of groceries to feed my family for the upcoming week.  While we were there, she bought a box of light bulbs.  I asked her why–those weren’t on her list?  She said it was because in January they were no longer going to sell “real” light bulbs and she wanted to stock up.  She buys a box every time she goes to town.  I told her she would be fine, that they were only replacing those with more energy-efficient and longer lasting light bulbs but she informed me those cost $7 a bulb and she wanted to stock up.  Then when checked out, she started in on it again and preached a sermon about the coming days when people would miss the old light bulbs.  She said, “When that time comes, you’re not getting any of mine!”  Another woman left the line and went and picked up a box, nodding her head mumbling something about ‘being prepared.’   My mom announced she is going to store them in a ‘safe place’ out in the canning shed.  This light bulb thing matters to her a lot.  She did the same thing today when Mrs. Greenbean and I took her to The Wal-Mart.  I confess I am woefuly unprepared for the coming light bulb apocalypse.