Things are making more sense now. Or, perhaps, I am making more sense of things now. Or, perhaps, I am feeling more sensible now. Maybe yesterday’s earthquake shook me back to my overly organized self. For this, I am relieved. I accomplished all of my Monday paperwork and tedium before noon, then ran errands, did laundry, and even made my bed (which I never do). Captivating stuff, right?
I’m also very excited that today is opening day of baseball season. Yes, it's true, I love baseball. I actually went to a game this past Saturday. I have always loved baseball but it got pretty serious about 10 or so years ago in Atlanta. I dated a major Braves fan. It all made sense at the time. I grew up in Richmond, VA, which was home to the farm team for the Atlanta Braves, aptly called the Richmond Braves. If you showed up after the 4th inning you’d be let in for free. My friend Sam and I would go all the time when we were in high school. And, of course, Dad took me to games as a kid. The Richmond Braves have since been sold. Richmond's farm team is now called the Flying Squirrels. Don't even get me started...
Anyway, at the time, Mark, the Atlanta Braves fan, still collected baseball cards, went to games by himself, kept score at the games (which is quite a process if you are familiar with what I'm talking about), and even listened to them on the radio. He taught me more than I ever thought I wanted to know about the sport. I recall an entire inning being spent with him explaining the intricacies of the balk rule. You’d be surprised, but this endeared me to him enormously.
Chipper Jones (Braves) at bat and Paul LoDuca (Dodgers) catcher. Circa 2002. Mark gets photo credit (shot through his binoculars).
Many moons have passed since Mark and I went our separate ways, but I still keep up with the sport (as, I’m sure, does he). I still love the Braves, but am also a Dodgers fan now. I don’t really listen to games on the radio, or watch much of them on TV (depends on the game), but I just love going to them. The smell of the stadium, the energy in the air, the complete melting pot of cultures, classes and ages, the spirit, the Americana, the hot dogs, peanuts and beer. Interestingly, this is one of the very few occasions during which I will drink beer. Or wear a baseball hat. Or hat of any kind, for that matter.
With the nostalgia brought on by the familiarity of what I associate to be the onslaught of all things Summer, my thoughts are brought back to the kitchen - or in this case, the grill.
A while back Chris found a recipe in The Week illustrating how to prepare the perfect steakhouse steak. You know, with the super crusty outside? We loved it and cooked it on both a grill pan and the grill with equal success.
There’s something about the sights, smells and sounds of the promise of Summer: the clanking of the spoon against the glass stirring the pitcher of lemonade, the smell of fresh cut grass, cicadas chirping at sunset, picnics on red checkered blankets, a late-afternoon thunderstorm and the smell of the charcoal grill wafting down the streets of the neighborhood.
This steak has all of these things wrapped up in each stage of preparation: the smells and sounds of the meat searing and every bite breaking through the crusty exterior into the tender, medium-rare meat. The perfect steak. It really just can’t be beat.
So tonight, as I applaud the Braves 16-5 win over the Cubs and mourn the impending loss by the Dodgers to the Pirates, with comfort and calm in my soul, I sparked up the old grill for the first time in months and cooked me up a steak.
The Perfect Steak
(Recipe from The Week magazine)
(Recipe from The Week magazine)
1 14- to 16-ounce New York strip steak (about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pat steaks dry with paper towel and rub in salt, pepper and cornstarch.
Wrap steak in wax paper and put in freezer for 30-45 minutes (until a bit hard on the outside but not completely frozen).
Grill steaks on very high heat 4-6 minutes on each side. Douse a little Worcestershire sauce on while grilling.
Plate and serve.