Monday, January 24 – Sunday, February 6, 2022
Two weeks…the weather and the Bengals are throwing me off. I don’t mind the weather, and I’m loving the post-season Bengals run, but my routine, oy, it’s out the door.
The Week in All the Weather: Two weather invents make the minutiae news this week. The first was a 3 inch snow storm which was predicted as a light dusting. As it continued to snow all day, the prediction was that the snow would stop “soon.” They clearly meant “eventually.”
That was a small time event compared to the second storm a couple days ago that started shyly with a warm day of rain. That warmth and rain gave way to an ice storm before settling into snow event. It isn’t often that I check my phone app to see it is both 60 degrees and sunny with a winter storm watch on the horizon. That’s a lot of weather. My office was closed for two full days, as was most of downtown. Finally, on late Friday afternoon, a couple places were able to open for business. With a layer of ice under the snow, walking was a bit treacherous. Still, loved the chance to get out the winter gear and drink with neighborhood friends! By Sunday the sun returned with temps in the high 30’s. Except for the snow mountains in parking lots, it’ll all be a memory by mid-week.
The Week in Sportsball: When you live in a small-ish city and your team is going to the Super Bowl, even people who don’t care one iota about sports become vaguely aware that something big is happening. The Bengals won the AFC championship and I gotta tell you, it seems to me that the town is seconds away from a big effusive, football-themed, city-wide Bollywood style dance routine. My co-worker, who watches zero sports gave me a “Go Bengals” salute before and after the win. (Truly, the salute is “who dey” not go Bengals, but I’m giving him 1,000% credit for making the attempt.) The local news ran a montage of people all over the country watching newly crowned local saint Evan McPherson kick the winning field goal. I teared up. (It was a beautiful montage.) Our Mayor is all over national media selling the city as the best one in America (he means it!) I can buy shirts, and cookies, and even Bengal striped pancakes for brunch. Cincinnati Public Schools have announced the day after the “Bengals Super Bowl Win” is a school holiday. The playoffs started with fans asking, “Why Not Us?” The Team picked up on that and they say, “It Is Us.” It is. And it’s blast.
The Week in Swiss Steak: I’ve been seeing cube steak at butcher shops the last couple of weeks and I decided to revisit a childhood recipe, Swiss Steak. My mom used either cube steak or round steak to make either a brown sauced mushroom dish, or a red tomato and onion dish. My Mom says she mostly used round steak, but she pounded it. I remember the pounding! Cube steak is a similar cut that the butcher tenderizes. We sometimes referred to the meat as minute steaks. They were cheap, and could be tough, but if cooked right, delicious and tender. Cooked right means a quick sauté, and a long braise in the oven.
I was surprised that I couldn’t find either the brown or red version in my recipe collection, but I settled on Alton Brown’s Swiss Steak because it looked familiar. It was. This last wave of the pandemic and the snow and the cold has made me a little nostalgic. I grabbed a nice bottle of wine from the local shop and snuggled up to a plate of Swiss Steak and rice. P.S. We would have eaten Minute Rice with our minute steak. I make “real” rice. Truly, nostalgia can only go so far. LOL!
The Week in Stock: It is a known fact among my friends, that I’m kind of a snob about chicken broth/stock. The two words are used pretty much interchangeably by home cooks, though technically, stock is made with bones and broth is made with meat and vegetables. I am usually talking stock but I almost always say broth. But what I’m really pushing is the idea that everyone should be making their own.
Anyone who has talked food with me for my than 5 minutes will hear me championing homemade chicken broth. I do so with the type of fervor you might find from someone whose parents were killed by a rogue can of store bought broth. I’m a zealot on this issue. I realize people are humoring me and I’m cool with that because every now and then, someone will make broth. And I know this, because they make sure they tell me about it. I love when people tell me they made their own broth. I like that they want to brag on themselves a little. Also, it’s great to give someone a positive experience from a distance. Cooking is love.
The Week in L’ Amour: I’ve always found a great source of great reading material to come from bartenders. Over the years, I’ve gotten several recommendations that have been terrific. My Braxton bartender recommended Last of the Breed by Louis L’ Amour, a book he said was one of his favorites because he and his Mom have read it, one of the few titles they have in common. I’ve not read any of the prolific author L’ Amour. He’s known for westerns, but in the early 80’s he wrote a cold war themed book that played on the main character’s American Indian heritage (so kind of a western?). I ordered the book used, and it was literally falling apart in my hands. That was the book’s only challenge. It’s a simple page-turner where America, and especially an American Indian, is superior. Fun.