The Magic of Grilling & Roasting…

Grilled Steak Roasted Brussels Sprouts

As I wrote in my very first post on this blog, I think a key to work-life balance is figuring out food, learning how to eat well (and what to eat) and cooking simple, nutritious, and delicious meals at home that don’t take all evening to prepare.

And there’s nothing quite like grilling to help with that! It removes a whole lot of pick up (no washing pots and pans). It’s also great to sit outdoors in the evening and unwind, which Minjay is always eager to do. Whenever he sees me pull out our tray and tongs, he rushes to the door and starts jumping excitedly. The best part is that I can sit by the grill and read while it does all the work me. I feel grateful to live in a building with a communal outdoor grill, but this recipe can also work well with smaller grills, even stovetops ones.  One evening our building grill wasn’t working, and we tried this recipe on a panini maker out of desperation! (It still tasted great, though not as nice and charred as it is on a proper grill). This is something I learned from It Starts With Food and the Whole30: do your best with what you have available; don’t complicate food

One of my husband’s favorite meals is grilled rib-eye steaks. The first time I made them, I was surprised by how easy it was. My former neighbor (who I became friends with because Minjay loved playing with her Golden Retriever) is an excellent cook. I gleaned some great tips from her, including the simplicity of salting steak.

All you have to do is generously sprinkle coarse salt over a rib-eye (at least that’s my favorite cut) on both sides and let it sit for about 40 minutes to an hour in the fridge. I either do this in the evenings while I’m finishing up my work, errands, or when I take Minjay out for his walk. This is also a great recipe for lazy Sunday nights.

Usually, when I salt the steak, I also heat the oven to 425 and pop in vegetables to roast. Favorites with steak are Roasted Brussels Sprouts, that literally only take 5 minutes to get ready, and then they roast happily on their own for 35-40 minutes. To prep: Trim the sprouts by cutting off the ends and slicing in half. Then toss with clarified ghee (or coconut oil, your choice), salt and black pepper. For best results, line the pan with parchment paper and don’t crowd the veggies (another tip from my beloved Whole30 cookbook).

Once the steak is salted and the sprouts are ready–which is all magic that happens on its own with almost zero effort and energy, while you’re doing other things–preheat the grill to high and take the steak(s) out to rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Next, throw them on the grill. 8 minutes for each side is usually a good guide, but if it’s a thinner cut could be less, thicker could be more. Either eyeball it or use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. I follow the guide on mine: 140 rare, 160 medium, 170 well done. Then, as my neighbor taught me, let the steaks sit for around 10 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

If you try out this “recipe” (I use the quotations because it’s so easy it feels like cheating), let me know below!

 

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The Simple Joy of Making Dinner + Easy Coconut Curry Recipe

Two things I’ve grown to love about that evening hour, in between the work day and the night, are walks with Minjay and making dinner. There’s that relaxing moment, right after you’ve chopped up some vegetables–which can be a very meditative act–and you’re watching them sizzling the the skillet: nothing is quite like it.

Chicken Cacciatore Whole30 Cookbook recipe As I watched my mushrooms, onions and red peppers cook cheerfully last Tuesday night, I was immediately calmed. And grateful, to have found this way to unwind. Add to that the knowledge that you’re using your time for yourself and are making the effort to feed yourself well, and it’s a recipe for joy. (Plus the recipe I was making for the first time turned out to be delicious and so satisfying: Chicken Cacciatore of The Whole30 Cookbook).

The relaxation that comes with cooking is heightened for me as a writer and editor, with the contrast of the physical chopping, measuring, stirring to spending the day writing, thinking, sitting, staring at a computer screen. Essayist Rebecca Solnit wrote about this in her book The Faraway Nearby:

Cooking is likewise a mode of transformation and a pleasure to which I often repair, and it sometimes seems so pleasurable because it is the opposite of writing; it engages all the senses; it’s immediate and unreproducable and then it’s complete and eaten and over. The tasks are simple, messy, fragrant, and brief, and success and failure are easy to determine. Perhaps it’s that cooking operates in the realm of biology, of things arising and falling away, sustaining bodies, while writing tries to shore up something against time and in the course of doing so appears only slowly and takes you away from the here and now. (p.82)

And to my delight, Harry Potter creator J.K.Rowling feels the same way. She tweeted this a few months ago in January:

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Brussels sprouts easy sideIt was the same feeling, again, last Thursday evening, after getting some red onions and Brussels sprouts ready for a balsamic-glazed side dish (which turned out excellent! I highly recommend it: p.262 of The Whole30 Cookbook. We had it with the chicken meatballs, p.226. Yes I’m going my way through this book, and I am loving it. Each recipe takes around 30 minutes or less of active cooking time, the meals have all been great and it never feels like wasted effort. And I know that the food I’m making is so good for me. Even N agrees, and he can be a picky eater! Dinners have been transformed at home.)

On Monday, we made a curry dish that was the first recipe I tried in the Spring from It Starts With Food, the “prequel,” if you will, to The Whole30 Book. It became an instant favorite. I modified their basic curry formula a bit, because we like extra coconut milk and our own set of veggies. So I thought I’d share it here. Total time for this meal to be made from scratch is less than 30 minutes, if you have 2 big skillets–and one should be a few inches deep. It feeds 2 people really nice big bowls for dinner, or can be easily doubled to feed 4–or in our case have loads of leftovers so we could both take lunch to work the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of beef (preferably grass-fed, hormone-free if you can)
  • 1 box of white mushrooms, sliced in half
  • 1 microwavable bag of cauliflower florets (I get mine from Trader Joe’s.)
  • 1 can of coconut milk–emphasis on can! Get it from the international section of the supermarket, not the boxed kind you find in the regular aisles. Tastes way better.
  • 2 tbsps of Green Curry Paste. Tip: This took me a while to find at grocery stores actually! I ended up finding a little jar at Whole Foods in the Asian cooking section, brand was Green Curry Paste Thai.
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil. First-timers: you can find the jar in the cooking oil aisle of any supermarket.

In a large, regular skillet, melt 1 tbsp coconut oil. Break up the ground beef with your hands into the skillet, or use a spoon to break it up once you put in the skillet if you are squeamish. (more on this later!). Cook until well-browned, stirring as needed, around 8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain excess fat if there’s too much of it (optional).

Wash and cut the mushrooms in half. In the second skillet that’s a few inches deep, boil half a cup of water. Add the mushrooms, cover and simmer for 4 minutes. This method is called “wet sauté” in the Whole30 Cookbook, and is genius! It has made cooking vegetables so much easier and quicker. While the mushrooms are cooking, put the cauliflower bag in the microwave (remember to cut a corner off to let some steam out) for 4 minutes too.

Once everything is cooked separately, remove the mushrooms from the deep skillet. I put them over the beef to avoid having to wash any extra dishes.

In the deep skillet, pour the whole can of coconut milk and the 2 tbsp of curry paste. Mix well and let simmer about 5 minutes. (You can wash the second skillet and clean up during this time.) Add the beef, mushrooms and cauliflower, drizzle with salt. Mix well and simmer for another 5 minutes.

And it’s that easy! Yum.