Steak and spicy vegetables

Carrots and parsnips, salt baked potatoes, beef sirloin, and roasted butternut squash

Carrots and parsnips, salt baked potatoes, beef sirloin, and roasted butternut squash

I had time to make some vegetables today and fill the fridge with them, so we ate a little of everything I made. In front are some cubed butternut that I roasted with smoked paprika, chili powder, and cayenne. Behind them are some carrots and parsnips I simmered in chicken stock with ground ginger and a bit more cayenne. I salt roasted some potatoes, which is the secret to getting the skins all kind of chewy and leathery, in a good way. I like the flavors of the smoky and spicy with the sweet squash, but I need to rein in my spicing arm a bit. The cooking method I’ve got down: oil generously (sometimes I use lard but usually it’s olive oil), bake at 350 degrees, toss every 20 minutes, for an hour or until browned and tender. It works for almost every kind of vegetable. Salt roasted potatoes take longer because they’re bigger than chunks of squash. The ones I scrubbed were mostly small ones and a couple the size of a ten year old’s fist. Those took an hour and a half, maybe two hours, to fully bake.

I seasoned the carrots and parsnips just right this time. I’ve put this spice combo on them before, but like the squash tonight, sometimes they’ve come out a little too spicy for my husband’s taste. For about ten short, fat carrots and parsnips, sliced up, I used a cup of stock and a teaspoon of ground ginger, and maybe an eighth of a teaspoon of cayenne, if that. A little salt, to bring out the sweetness. Put everything in a pot and turn the heat down on the stove as low as it will go. Simmer til glazed and tender, about 20 minutes.

The sirloin came out nearly perfect, despite the hindrance of a meat thermometer that seems to read about 20 degrees low. I poked it and was sure I’d really overcooked it, this time. Drying it off with a paper towel, then salting it and letting it rest before cooking it, has made a lot of my recent improvement. That’s where I am with steak frying, which is to say, something like a C-. Not entirely failing at it, but I’m still working out this, ‘sear it on both sides (maybe three minutes? until it’s dark) and finish it in the oven’ business. It always comes out overcooked on one side, from the final baking. Are you supposed to flip it halfway through? I guess you are. I seasoned very simply: grinding on some mixed peppercorns and smearing some butter on it to absorb while it rests. It’s all about the meat, trying not to disrespect it too hard before I eat it.

I don’t always mention it, but if I’m eating beef, it’s probably from the quarter beef we bought from Side Hill Farm. They raise delicious, adorable cattle on nothing but grass, and make the best yogurt. It’s one of the few places you can get raw milk in the Valley. We’ve been buying our beef (and sometimes dairy) from them for a few years. It’s still kind of a schlep, so we wind up only going once or twice a year, when we’re picking up a quarter.

The vegetables are all from our winter farm share. The spices, I buy from the bulk bins at the natural foods co-op where we’re members.

No recipe was harmed in the making of this dinner.

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