It’s What’s For Dinner

It’s no secret I love living in Oklahoma, but did you know I’ve always wanted to be a chuckwagon cook?

Folks who feed the masses with cast iron pots and pans over a campfire (or on cookstoves like my grandmothers did) fascinate me — not only for their meticulous planning and timing, but for their dedication to quality food.

I doubt I’ll realize that dream now (being somewhat “old-er” and rather fond of my kitchen at the lake) but there’s one thing I emulate on a regular basis: quality food begins with quality ingredients.

Introducing McCutchen’s Cattle Call Ranch out of Checotah, Oklahoma. The name “Cattle Call” comes from a Country & Western song written by Tex Owens — made famous by Eddy Arnnold and many others — even Elvis.

You can’t go wrong with a name like that, or their beef. Locally processed and sold by whole, 1/2, or 1/4, their packages include steaks, roasts, short ribs, hamburger, and more. Ranch-raised with the utmost care, these folks put a lot of hard work into their product and it shows. Better yet, it tastes like it! (For ordering information, please email cattlecallranch@outlook.com)

Quick disclaimer: I don’t usually plug products here — it’s for FUN, not profit — but the Cattle Call Ranch gave me a package of ribeyes and hamburger to try, and what’s a wanna-be chuckwagon cook to do?

BEEF… it’s what’s for dinner. Break out your cast iron skillet and get ready to ring the dinner bell.

Enjoying some mighty fine vittles,

~ Kim

The Simple Life and a Simple Stir Fry

Since January 2018, I’ve had to put my pursuit of flavor aside due to events beyond my control. Recently though I had a hankering for “meat and veggies.” (Vegetarian friends, please look away!) Beef, bacon, broccoli, and brown rice sounded good.

While that concoction doesn’t look like much (thanks to a rainy spell and Oklahoma’s fickle photographic conditions) it tasted SO good, The Man Of Few Words had seconds and I ate the rest. :)

Truthfully it’s been a tough year. At one point I thought about deep-sixing blogging, but that would’ve meant giving up sharing sporadic inspirations with you. My heart just couldn’t accommodate that. Plus I have a story or two left to tell — and I love reading YOURS! Bonus points for yummy recipes.

In the meantime, I’ve found a new outlet for my dormant culinary dreams. Once a week some of my newfound friends and I gather to have a glass of good wine and “munchies.” How could I not cook for them?! They bring the wine and I bring the FOOD! (It was the least I could do to show my appreciation.)

Tonight’s impromptu repast consisted of marinated mushrooms, garlic & herb roasted baby Yukon potatoes, and kalamata olives. Simple fare. Speaking of which, I’m smack dab in the middle of a much simpler life. After I turned 60 (gasp!) I realized that I’ve entered my last go-round on this planet. Every day and every flavor counts. I intend to make the most of them and share my flavor innovations with my friends. (TMOFW, too!) I even brought home an exercise bike yesterday. Yikes…

Getting back to that stir-fry, it was basically a half-pound of bacon cut into “lardons” and sauteed until crisp (drained on paper towels); a pound of 80/20 ground chuck browned with chopped onions and minced garlic (added at the last minute) in the bacon drippings and a “steamer bag” of broccoli nuked in the microwave. (Ordinarily I’d steam a fresh head of broccoli, but time was of the essence.) Then I added previously cooked brown rice seasoned with Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Easy peasy!

Here’s a close up:

Bacon Broccoli Burger Brown Rice 2.JPG

The simplest pleasures in life — the simple life — are best.  Live yours and don’t look back. But please continue to share your recipes. :)

Enjoying a scaled back perspective and GOOD FOOD,

~ Kim

Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

Sporadic blog post alert…

My schedule is absolutely insane the next two weeks, so I’m relying on your good graces and a few one-dish wonders to see me through.

It’s not that I bite off more than I can chew, it’s just that piano players are in demand this time of year.  I’m talkin’ seven rehearsals, four gigs, two performances, the children’s Christmas program, and a guest speaking engagement I volunteered to do without checking my calendar first (!) — which includes playing the piano.  Basically “a partridge in a pear tree” kind of insane.

Speaking of biting off more than you can chew…

Back in the 80’s there was a fast food commercial that amused me no end.  In it, a feisty ol’ lady would holler, “Where’s the beef?!”

(Remember that?)

I thought of it the other day when I divided up a chuck roast — half of it for “roast,” a fourth cut into cubes for stew, and the rest sliced and pounded for Swiss Steak.  Three meals outta one roast ain’t bad!

My meal planning was also assisted by a giveaway I won.  (Thank you, Jenny at Savour The Senses — what a treat!)

I’d never used Muir Glen tomatoes before, so I wanted to make something special with them.  Let’s see… one for manicotti, one for Super Nachos, one for stew, and one for Swiss Steak.  Four meals outta one gift box ain’t bad either!

Getting back to the topic at hand, it had been awhile since I made Swiss Steak and I didn’t want to make just any ol’ version of it with those delectable tomatoes.  Lo and behold, Alton Brown’s name came up in my search… and you know how I feel about Alton Brown.

So, I sauteed and stirred to my heart’s content (in between piano practice) and shouted, “Where’s the beef?!” — just for fun.

Swiss Steak ala Alton Brown

(adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network)

1 lb. chuck roast (uncooked), sliced against the grain

1 tsp. Kosher salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c. flour

2 Tbsp. bacon drippings

1 medium onion, sliced into rings

1/2 c. celery, chopped

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen, woohoo!)

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (regular is fine, too)

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3/4 c. beef broth (I used homemade beef stock)

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Slice roast into “cutlet” sized pieces; season with salt and pepper.

Place flour in a pie tin (or on a plate); dredge meat in flour.

Place meat between two sheets of plastic wrap; pound until thin.  (I used my rolling pin to aid and abet this process.)

Dredge meat in flour again; shake off excess and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil or drippings in a Dutch oven ’til shimmering.

Add a few slices of beef at a time (don’t crowd); sauté until golden, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Set aside to drain on paper towels.

In the same pan, add onion and celery; sauté until softened.

Add remaining ingredients; stir well.

Add browned meat, submerging slices in the liquid.

Cover and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is fork tender.

Swiss Steak

Optional:  Holler “Where’s the beef?!” once in awhile, just for fun. :)

Enjoying temporary insanity,

~ Kim

Cutting Board Tacos

1)  Take one insanely hot summer day and your basic taco fixin’s…

(Nothin’ fancy — just the basics — seasoned with this.)

(Allow me to zoom in a bit closer.)

2)  Assemble them on the nearest cutting board.

(Closer…)

3)  Add a lil’ sunshine and a fork.

(Clooooser…)

4)  Okay… a LOT of sunshine and a fork.

(There we go!)

5)  Think of winter and laugh.  Bwahahah!

(Apologies to my Southern hemisphere friends…)

Serve with a side of this and pull up a chair.

That’d be it. :)

Enjoying easy weeknight meals,

~ Kimby

What’s your favorite “beat the heat” meal?

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Roasted Garlic Meatloaf

Sometimes ya just gotta have meat and potatoes.  I grew up on a farm, after all…

I also had some roasted garlic to use up.

Normally I throw all kinds of seasonings into my meatloaf — it’s one of the most versatile dishes on the planet — but this time, I wanted basic.  Salt, pepper and… ah yes, roasted garlic.  And a few green onions for color.  (Had some of those left, too!)

Gratuitous mashed potato shot -- I liked the light.

Paired with a mound of fluffy mashed potatoes and a vegetable of your choice, it makes for a nice meal.

Mind you, this isn’t a saucy, bacon-draped, barbecued affair — just good ol’ meatloaf.  And some mighty fine sandwiches the next day.  (Feel free to top it with whatever you like, if you’re so inclined.)

Roasted Garlic Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs. ground chuck

1/2 c. beef broth or milk (I used milk — I grew up on a farm, yada yada…)

2 eggs

1/2 c. toasted bread crumbs

1/2 -1 whole head of garlic, roasted (see here for tips)

A liberal dose of Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

4 green onions, sliced (including tops)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth (or milk.)  Add bread crumbs, roasted garlic, and salt & pepper.  Let this sit for a bit until the crumbs soak up the liquid.

Add ground beef and green onions.  Mix together lightly with your hands.  (The phone always rings during this step, just so ya know.)

Shape mixture into a loaf and place in a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.  Bake 40 to 60 minutes.

Not exactly rocket science, but sometimes simple is good.

Enjoying back to the basics,

~ Kim

What’s your favorite “basic” meal?