"What a wonder life I've had! I only wish I'd realized it sooner." Colette

Aug 31, 2020

Not Worth My Salt in the Kitchen

I decided to treat myself with some of the extra SNAP benefits Oregon is still doling out, so I included a steak along with my recent Walmart order to celebrate the holiday. I know, Walmart gives me grief but they're pretty much the only game in town.

My lack of culinary know-how forced me to investigate which cut of beef to buy. After careful deliberation I selected a tenderloin steak, which at $7.39 was quite a splurge for me; but I figured I'd pay at least twice that in a restaurant.  Sounded really yummy and tender.  Please, God, don't let me screw this up.

I also needed to look up recipes but they were pretty standard with the seasoning: salt and pepper, how hard can that be?  Last year I read how Kosher salt is used for this and that so I had a container waiting in my cupboard, talk about Providence.  According to the instructions more salt is better than less in order for the salt to do its thing to the meat...like magic beans, I supposed.

The steak looked nice and thick, at least to my food-insecure eyes.  I don't usually use salt so I must have poured 1/4 cup into the dish and ground McCormick peppercorns 'til my hands hurt. I loaded the steak, rubbing it real good on both sides and around the ends, singing Happy Birthday two times out of habit, not wanting to leave a crystal in the dish.  More's better than less, I reminded myself as I stared trepidatiously at the white thing in my pan.

Two chosen recipes had completely different ways to cook the perfect steak, but both seared both sides. One recommended cooking in the oven after searing and the other did everything in the pan. One moved the steak around in the pan while searing but the other left it alone. No wonder I don't like to cook; can't stand the decisions.

I wasn't sure if my toaster oven would do the job so I opted for cooking on the stove-top, without the recommended cast iron pan, which I loathe. I prefer steaks medium-rare, so I cooked it on high for 6 minutes each side while whipping together seasoned butter and feeling like Julia Child amidst the growing smoke. The lavender cuttings I'd carefully rooted turned out to be Rosemary so I used some of that.  Potato slices and half a tomato finished baking in the toaster oven while the steak rested, and I whisked the butter into the burnt pieces stuck to the bottom of the pan.  I shoved away a place at the table to 'lay the cloth' as Mom would say, eagerly anticipating the gourmet meal to come.

The steak was as crusty as Grandma's breaded pork chops, is that how it's supposed to look?  It was the same color inside as it was outside, but at least it was a tender well-well done. Unfortunately, the taste of the salt did not miraculously turn into something else like I'd expected, I don't know what I was thinking.

Refusing to admit defeat after all that, I pretended to enjoy every bite of the salted beef while giving myself an A for effort.  I drank so much water I heard myself slosh.  That's the last time for me.  It's easier to drill holes in my teardrop.

Photo note:  the little Salt Lamp at the top is something crafted from an higuera, Puerto Rico's indigenous gourd.

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Original gourd art designs Copyright 2020 Andrea Jansen Designs. Please write for permission.

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