Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day QUE!

Memorial Day, formerly Decoration Day, is commemorated to celebrate US war dead. Started after the civil war for Union soldiers, it was expanded after WW1 to include all war dead (so says Wikipedia). In a family with very few war dead –knock wood—we didn’t really do anything on this holiday other than barbeque. I recently looked up the meaning and think it deserves a bit more acknowledgement from me as an adult member of this society. There are faults with this country, but it is also a country with benefits for its citizens; I enjoy many of them. I have many current and former service members in my family and I love them, so I should and will do better from here on out. So I’ll be observing the 3:00pm moment of silence….

And then it’s time to start the QUE!!!

As an extension of my make-do kitchen, I have a make-do barbeque grill. It is an old school charcoal grill that my dad bought for us when we moved to Seattle over a dozen years ago. So it is old and it is rusty. One day soon we will need to replace it before the rust molecules give way and flaming charcoals tumble out of the bottom of it. But for today, I will press my luck once again to make dinner for the family. A simple American meal complete with steak and potatoes!
On the menu:
Grilled steaks served with a ribbon of Karam’s Garlic Sauce (this stuff is awesome!);
Potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce;
Grilled corn on the cob with chili-lime butter;;
Oh! snap ice cream sandwiches;

Cook’s note:
· Both the ginger cookie recipe and the potato pancake recipe are from the Great Entertainer Cookbook. I renamed the cookies from ginger cookies because I took major liberties with the recipe. First, I used mostly whole wheat flour because I ran out of white flour. More importantly, I didn’t have any ginger in the house. Some time ago I’d read somewhere that you could substitute cardamom for ginger in things like apple pie. So I tried it here. Delicious!
· A trick with the potatoes. Potatoes start to discolor the minute you start shredding them. Don’t worry about it. That is the starch in the potatoes interacting with the air. I now let them get good and pinky-orange until I’m ready for them. Then I put them in a colander and rinse them until they are back to white. The stuff that runs off is the starch so this will change the consistency of your finished dish a bit. It is a good idea to let a lot of the water drain out of the potatoes or to press the water out or dry them in a dish towel.
· On the ice cream sandwiches, I went with plain vanilla ice cream because I didn’t want any flavor that would clash with the flavor of the cookies. I let the ice cream soften a bit so it was easy to serve. Next time, I’ll just make them ahead and put them back in the freezer. That way the ice cream doesn’t get too melty while you are eating it.
· No recipe for the grilling. It was pretty common sense. The steaks were NY Strips, about ¾ inch thick, so they did well on the grill and I didn’t have to sweat too much about overdoing them with reasonable attention. Just a touch of kosher salt, pepper and a shmear of olive oil. Scored on one side. Cooked about 5 minutes on one side and about 10 on the next. The corn was another where I went from memory. You pull down, but not off, the husks and remove as much of the silk as you can. Rearrange the husks and soak the corn in water for a while. Then the corn goes on the grill for about 15 minutes. It is okay if it gets a bit smoky and it is fine if the husks burn because you don’t eat the husks, you eat what’s inside them.

This meal is a total keeper. The flavors are subtle, smoky and go well together. My husband was skeptical of the idea of potato pancakes with this meal, but I really liked the variation on the standard potato theme.


  1. One thing I heard about grilling is that the meat continues to cook after it's off the fire. So you should always stop a bit early so as not to dry it out. Also, steak sometimes benefits from brining. Since it's not so fatty.

  2. Looks like a yummy meal. Why no fresh fruit?

  3. Fresh fruit doesn't have to be cooked. this is a cooking blog.