An Evening in the Easily Distracted Kitchen


My plan last night was to cook one of Jewel’s favorites, Flat Iron Steak with Balsamic Reduction. This is a recipe that Jewel picked out a couple years ago to include in a holiday cookbook for her class. She handed me the cookbook without saying much about it, and I was flipping through recipes for macaroni and cheese and variations-on-a-cool-whip-theme desserts, when I saw this amazing-sounding steak recipe. I asked Jewel about it (since I had never made this recipe before), and she said that she had browsed AllRecipes looking for a good steak recipe. She suggested we make it for Christmas Eve dinner, and that is our new tradition. However, this is an elegant but easy to prepare meal that is a shame to only serve once a year.

I asked Jewel to help me prepare dinner since my back was acting up and I knew that she would be motivated to help ensure that this meal turned out. When she was getting out the salt and pepper, Jewel spied the curry powder I had made this past weekend.
Jewel: “Oh, can we use the new curry powder on the steak?”
Me: “No, it’s a balsamic reduction sauce. Curry wouldn’t go with it.”
Jewel: “Well, can we make something else with it?”
Me: “We have a head of cauliflower. We could make an Indian cauliflower dish. You find a recipe while I start the steak.”
I was seasoning the steak (I used a flank steak) when I heard Jewel scream and throw down the Indian vegetarian cookbook she was perusing. There was a dead bug in it. I took her word for it. Bugs, dead or alive, are Tom’s job. So she turned to Google, and she noticed a new feature on the side bar that allows you to narrow down your recipe search based on some key terms. So we chose “coconut”, “curry powder” and “30min or less” and Google came up with this recipe:

Roasty Toasty Coconut Curry Cauliflower
1/2 head of cauliflower (~3 cups of pieces)
1 teaspoon coconut oil (we used a tablespoon or so)
1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
a pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
1 egg white

Do you see the Santa face in the cauliflower? Jewel did.

I cut up the cauliflower and separated the egg while Jewel greased the pan and mixed the spices together. Don’t throw that egg yolk away! That’s where all the nutrition in the egg is! I added the leftover yolk to the frittata I made this morning.

The cauliflower should be cut up into precisely one inch pieces. You know I had to bust out a ruler for this… Um, no. Then I remembered the Sweet Coconut Curry Granola Bars that Jewel hadn’t tried yet. So we had to take a quick snack break.

I made these with just dates as the sweetener and they turned out fantastic. I also subbed sesame seeds for the sunflower seeds since that’s what I had. I used the last of the raisins and a mixture of dried cranberries and cherries for the balance. I also added cayenne because my old batch of curry powder was fairly mild. I was aiming for a Whole30-approved snack that wouldn’t trigger my sweet tooth, and I think I found it. However these bars themselves are so addictive that I had to have a few bites while writing this. Jewel also liked the bars very much, even though they were full of “bones”. More on that tomorrow.

Right now we need to get back to making dinner. It’s easier to mix the spices together in a gallon ziplock bag, but it’s also more wasteful. I’m not a fan of disposable plastic.

My mixing bowls have lids, but any large enough storage container would work. First I shook the egg white with the cauliflower, and then I added the spices to the cauliflower and shook them again. It helps to sing “shake, shake, shake the cauliflower”, but it’s not worth the $60 WordPress wants to charge me upload video to demonstrate. Coating the cauliflower thoroughly with the egg white and then the seasoning is a key step.

Jewel tried to take a less blurry picture of me, but the iPad camera decided to quit working, probably out of fear. We switched to my phone, since actual cameras are too complicated.

Dump the cauliflower gently onto the greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 min at 400, flip and bake for 10 more minutes.

Cook the steaks for 3-4 min per side in ghee over med-high heat. The recipe calls for butter, but butter shouldn’t be used at high temperatures. Ghee is clarified butter. Remove the steaks to a platter and keep warm. I love our warming drawer! Sauté a chopped clove of garlic for a minute, then add balsamic and reduce by half.

Pour sauce over steak and sprinkle with chopped parsley so that it looks fancy.

Place cauliflower in a bowl and top with the coconut that fell off so that it looks fancy too. This is the coolest picture of the cauliflower because Jewel’s foot is in it. The cauliflower really tasted like a dish from an Indian restaurant. I think the fresh curry powder made a difference. I will double the recipe next time. Tom, Jewel and I all really liked it. We also served leftover portobello mushrooms, creamed spinach and steamed broccoli with this meal.
Are you still wondering about the Santa face?

There it is!

Whole30 for Lent


Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I have been observing Lent for the past few years. One of the things that I like about the Roman Catholic Church is how the church calendar follows the seasons. In December is Advent, the anticipation of the birth of the Christ Child. In late winter and early spring is Lent, a time for penitence and reflection leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. The readings from the Bible follow this pattern as well, and the sermon is based on the readings, not vice versa. For this reason I do get something out of going to a Catholic mass, even though I don’t agree with all the teachings of the church. I am not a fan of the modern services that have become trendy in Protestant churches now. They pick a topic and then pick a few verses from the Bible out of context to justify the point they want to make, and then give it some sort of catchy name that is similar to a video game or a tv show. That just seems backwards to me. Also, there is no change to observe the seasons, neither in the readings nor the mood. The mood is “happy happy joy joy” all the time. If this works for you, then great! Everyone is different. I am just explaining why it doesn’t work for me.

I observe Lent with no sense of obligation. It is a personal choice. Last year I gave up Facebook. The year before that I gave up Facebook games. These were choices that led me to spend more time with my family, and 40 days is long enough to break a habit or start a new one. This year I am doing Whole30, which is a very strict version of the Paleo diet: no grains, legumes, dairy, sweetener of any sort, white potatoes or alcohol. Also no Paleo desserts, junk food or baked goods. I realize that this is almost the antithesis of traditional Lenten fasting, but I am going “meatless” on Fridays. (I still eat fish.). The other thing that is forbidden during Whole30 is weighing yourself and measuring your food. You are supposed to eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. I like this idea of trusting my body rather than obsessing over the numbers. I’ve been eating Paleo for long enough to know what my portions should look like, so this has freed me from calculating the calories of everything I cook.

So, how many people knew that Lent was actually 46 days long? Yeah, me neither. The Sundays in Lent don’t count. If I were doing a traditional Lenten fast (no dairy, meat or oil), I’d be all about chowing down down on some meat and fat on Sundays! But the key to Whole30 is to break old habits, and indulging once a week would not be helpful. I don’t know if I’ll make it 46 days. I will reevaluate how I feel on Day 30. I am hoping that eating 100% clean will help my back, but I know that I am grasping at straws at this point.

For the next month or so, starting yesterday, I’ll be posting recipes that are Whole30 compliant. For the most part these will be savory dishes, but I will include some fruit-sweetened treats. Larabars are allowed on Whole30, so I plan to make some homemade versions. If anyone else out there is doing Whole30 for Lent, please leave me a comment. It would be great to support each other.