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Here it is, the first installment of Ramblings.

Things I could talk about: Work related stuff, (sounds to computer related to me), SCA stuff (there's another section for that), Stuff about TV shows (well, doesn't that start sounding like a blog?) Food I have cooked ... Hey, that's an Idea.

Tonight's dinner was leftovers. Sounds ho-hum, hey? Not so fast there bucko, My leftovers are probably way better than yours. Don't believe me? Well, let me ask you, when was the last time you barbecued this year?

Yes, I barbecue at every chance I get. It doesn't matter that the time change has us all blind by 5:30 in the evening. I don't care if it's raining, I'll still grill outdoors. I haven't had to worry about barbecuing in the snow, but If the propane's still liquid, I have the clothes and I'm ready to cook.

Now, back to tonights meal. The ingredients are simple

Leftover barbecued Beef boneless rib and chuck steak
portabello mushroom

The Beef rib was from yesterday's barbecue. The Chuck from Monday's barbecue. I julienned the carrots, then chopped them finely (pieces thinner than 1/8th inch) to ensure that they would soften up when I fried them with slivers of onions and cubed Mushrooms.

I use the term fry loosely, as I go really light on the oils, and add a little water when I think my pan is getting dry. I add enough water to get all the ingredients wet, but not soupy. This lets their juices mingle with each other, and results in some steam cooking occurring. It's a real easy way to get your onions to caramelize without burning.

The onions were peeled and cut in half. I then cut off the little bit at the top of the onion that holds the layers together, and sliced the onions along their grain. I believe this results in a more chewy onion that stands up to cooking. You can experiment with this by cutting the two halves of an onion nintey degrees off from each other, and cooking them in two seperate pans for the same amount of time.

The Mushrooms (actually 1 large portabello) were cut into 1/2 inch squares of varying lengths depending on how close to the center of the mushroom any piece was. I cut them a little large because mushrooms shrink when they're cooked, and I did not want them getting lost in the rest of the vegetables. I instead wanted them to stand out as partners to the Rib Meat.

Tonight's vegetable mix had a little chuck steak accompaniment. There was not enough of it left to make it the main meat ingredient, but I figured that the half a steak that was left over from the other night could accent the flavor nicely if prepared correctly. In this case I cut it into very tiny portions, about the size of the carrots.

The Chuck was barbecued in a lemony marinade that would have competed with the rib meat's flavor in any large quantity. By chopping it finely, it became a chewy texture that mixed with the mushrooms and shared it's lemon peppery bite with the vegetable base, which had no spices of it's own.

I added a little butter to the mix because I like the flavor, and it adds a little richness to the pallet, and let that fry for a bit. At this point, I could have added my steamed rice to make this a fried rice dish, but decided against it, since Annette doesn't go for rice all that much. Instead, I finished off the dish by adding thin diagonal cut slices (1/4 to 1/8 inch) of the barbecued rib meat at the last moment. These had been cooked (to me) perfectly at medium rare. I wanted them to mix flavors with the base, but I did not want them to over-cook. Nothing ruins a left-over cut of meat like cooking it past its tasty point. As soon as the meat went from medium rare to medium (still pink, but barely) I turned off the gas and gave the whole mess a good scooping to get the excess heat out.

I had mine over rice. Annette had hers in a flour tortilla.

Beef Rib

Poke Method meat cooking

I made sure they did not OVER-COOK by using a super secret method taught me by my SCA Mom, Kathryn Blackhart. I'm going to tell you this secret, so don't let anybody else read the screen.

First, Make a fist with your off-hand. Not a tight fist, just enough that all your fingers and thumb are in place. It's OK if you make one of those weird thumb inside the fingers fists because we're not going to punch anybody. If you WERE going to punch anybody, I would strongly encourage you to make a proper fist, as you're likely to break your thumb, index, and middle finger if you don't.

Now, poke the bulge of flesh between your thumb and index finger. This is what a raw steak will feel like when you poke it. If your steak feels like this, you need to cook it more, unless you LIKE steak tartar. Yes, I've had it, and it's not bad when its prepared well, Don't order your burger this way at your local grease shack.

Next, apply just a little pressure and poke your flesh again. This is what Rare steak will feel like. Medium pressure equates to medium steak. High pressure is Well Done. You can guess where Medium Rare and Medium Well lie in the pressure scale.

I marinated it with Soy Sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Raynal Brandy, Apple Cider, and a touch of granulated garlic. I didn't have enough time to let this soak for a couple hours, so after a half hour of soaking, I took the whole bowl out to the barbecue.

The first order of business was to get the outside of the rib strips seared but not crunchy. To do this I let each side sit long enough to get a good smoke up at high heat. then immersed them in the marinade before rolling them back onto the grill to sear the next side.

After all four sides of the strips were seared, I put the grill down to medium low heat and let them cook through.

Once the ribs were close to done, I slathered them in Annette's Barbecue sauce (she makes it, it tastes good, I don't know the ingredients) and let them sit until they were done. By the way, this was a good time to empty the bowl of marinade, since I didn't want the sauce washing off the meat when I took it back in the house.

Chuck Steak

Sounds awful doesn't it? Chuck should be roast. Chuck is actually a number of muscles between the neck and shoulder of the cow. Yes, meat comes from animals, and Soilent Green is made of people.

The Cook's Thesaurus recommends cooking Chuck slowly in liquid. I recommend cutting a few thick steaks, followed by a really long marinating session with acidic substances, and a trip to the barbecue.

In this case I used lemon juice, alcohol (bourbon is great) apple vinegar, Soy Sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to soften up the connective tissue and give the meat a tangy lemon twist. A little Lemon Pepper added some zingyness to the outside of the meat, and the old grill-dunk-grill method resulted in tender flavorful beef.

What is "grill dunk grill?" you ask. In my bit about Boneless Ribs, I mentioned that I kept them from getting too crunchy by dipping them in the marinade as I grilled them. This is grill dunk grill. I often cook on high heat to get the outside seared, and dunk the meat back into the marinade to cool it off, and get more flavor into it. Then, when the soaking wet meat goes back on the grill, I put it into the cooler spots, or turn the flame down some. The liquids have gotten deep into the meat. They heat up, and turn to steam, cooking the meat, and leaving flavor in it.