Things I learned last week:
1. A bad haircut can indeed give me weird feelings. I always used to roll with less-than-stellar cuts, but … baby bangs, guys. That’s all you need to know. Send bobby pins and hairspray to the Danguole Looks Like a Drunk Toddler Foundation, c/o Buster Bluth.
2. It’s okay (smart, actually) to turn around on a solo hike because you sort of lost the trail and don’t have enough phone juice for the GPS. You still get an obscenely large michelada for your efforts.
3. Baby bangs: still not okay.
4: Baby bangs: they happen SO FAST.
5. A quart-sized jar of my mom’s chunky garden vegetable pasta sauce lasts approximately 1.75 days in this apartment (population: 1). No actual pasta necessary.
6. I had forgotten how much I like meals that can be made ahead of time. Those are typically not summer fare; they’re stews, soups, braises, and the like, but…
Enter pickled vegetables and grilled meat. Once you’ve pickled and marinated, you’re good to go–all that is left is a few minutes of grilling. And, while the meat is resting, you’ll probably have enough time to make a drink and tell your children how they’ve disappointed you. Unless they’ve been on TV for The Wrong Reasons, then maybe eat first, okay? Okay. Nobody likes cold steak.
Chopping all this is the most time-consuming part. The mandoline is your friend (the crazy one who’s always trying to slice your finger off).
Then, there’s an icy brine bath…
…and the stuffing of vegetables into jars. (Sidenote: is bad kitchen light a good enough reason to move?)
I’m a big fan of skirt steak (possibly because it’s the only kind I know how to cook). It’s quite rich, though, so I always serve it with something tart, or at least acidic.
This particular recipe isn’t an original, by the way–just a mashup of two really great ones. Pickled squash from The Kitchn. Steak from Epicurious. If I were really lazy (or just smarter), I would’ve posted these separately.
The thing is, they just look so good together.
I’d tell you to bring a plate, but you don’t need one. You probably don’t even need utensils. We’ve been so efficient with our time–dirtying dishes would really put a damper on that.
How’s your week going, anyway? I’m really busy. Busy growing hair. (It’s all good.)
- 2 pounds yellow squash, sliced thin
- 1/2 a sweet onion, preferably Vidalia, sliced thin
- 1 red bell pepper, diced fine
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground mustard
- 2 Thai or serrano chiles, with seeds, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste/concentrate
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar or light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for oiling grill
- 3/4 pound skirt steak, cut into 3 pieces
- In a large (really large) bowl, combine squash, onions, peppers, and salt. Add a handful of ice cubes and just enough cold water to cover. Stir to combine, and set aside for 30 minutes.
- Rinse and drain the squash mixture.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, and ground mustard to a boil. Remove from heat, whisk briefly to make sure everything is dissolved, and cool for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, pat dry the vegetables as best as you can and pack into jars (I used two 1-quart jars). Pour vinegar mixture over vegetables to cover completely. Seal tightly and shake to combine well. Refrigerate until completely chilled--they'll be ready in a couple of hours.
- Combine peppers, tamarind, sugar, salt, and oil in a shallow baking dish or gallon-sized zip bag until sugar is dissolved. Add steak and coat evenly. Cover or seal, as applicable, and marinade for at least 4 hours.
- Oil the grate on your grill and preheat until very hot (you should only be able to hold your hand an inch or so above the grates for a second or so). Grill steak to desired doneness (about 2 minutes per side with the cover closed for me).
- Rest the steak for 5-10 minutes before slicing across the grain. Serve topped with squash (you won't use all of the squash, but no worries, it'll keep in the fridge for a couple weeks or so).