Our kitchen table is in storage. The table we eat at now isn’t actually a table, so much as a footstool. A footstool with wooden trays on it that are usually cluttered with dolls or crayon wrappers or a half-eaten piece of toast or finally, after the kids are asleep, some semblance of a dinner fit for adults.
As it turns out, we aren’t the only people who eat dinner far after a “normal” dinner hour. Take Molly and Jeff: turns out that they also have been known to eat dinner after their kids are asleep, if not on a regular basis, then frequently enough for me to feel like we aren’t alone in this habit. And although I don’t want this to be our way of life forever, it does have its charm, too. Eating without interruptions? So worth the late hour.
But anyway, Molly and I talked about one such dinner just a couple of days after Valentine’s Day this year. I remember the conversation because we had gone down to her house for our first visit since last summer just a few short days after Valentine’s Day, and over the course of our conversation we discovered that we both had the same idea of what constituted a special Valentine’s dinner these days: grilling a good piece of meat at home and cracking open a bottle of wine after the kids were asleep. It turns out they had grilled flank steak too, using a marinade that was nearly identical to the one we used, save for just a few ingredients that although not identical, were interchangeable (honey for the brown sugar, for example). It was in hearing Molly’s steak recipe that once and for all convinced me that we are more alike than different.
Molly and I couldn’t be more different, in many ways. We’re opposites in hair color and eye color, for one (and strangely Addie looks more like her than she does me), not to mention the fact that she is outgoing and gregarious; I tend toward being more reserved and soft-spoken. She likes Almond Roca and raspberries and Old English poetry while I could easily pass on all three. But after giving it a lot of thought (it has been almost two months since Valentine’s Day, hasn’t it?), I realize that there isn’t much to add to this list of differences. Either the older we get, the more we have in common, or the older we get, the more I realize we always had in common.
We both love strong coffee in chunky Starbucks mugs, and reading challenging books and watching Disney movies. We love brownies and Le Creuset cookware and black tea and Jesus. We think strawberries pretty much rule and could eat a whole package of Oreos on our own if our good sense didn’t tell us not to. We both find European decor both charming and attractive, and we both love a good hoodie.
I’ve been wishing we lived closer to the Nelson family for a long time now, but after this particular visit, I realized just how much I wish we lived down the street from them, close enough for me to knock on her door, unannounced, kids in tow, and be welcomed in for an afternoon gab fest over a glass of malted milk and graham crackers slathered with chocolate frosting.
Life changes all the time, but some things never change. Molly is that for me, a constant, I mean. The sort of friend that will always be my friend, though she changes and I change and things change. And I love that about her.
Funny how a simple recipe for grilled steak can make me realize this simple truth, isn’t it?
Flexible Grilled Flank Steak (GF/DF/NF)
See that cookbook cracked open on the counter? It’s open to a recipe known as “Tony’s Steak,” a recipe I used as my guide for our Valentine’s dinner this year. I made a few alterations to the original recipe based on what I had on hand, and it worked so well that I may never make the recipe as it was originally written (which reinforces the fact that this marinade is truly a flexible one). This is my version; for the original, head over to Dinner: A Love Story. (You’ll also find a pretty picture of the way the steak looks once cooked, a picture I failed to snap. But I promise, ours turned out perfectly.)
1/3 cup low sodium Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1 T brown sugar (or use honey to taste instead)
1 T olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pound flank steak
Put all ingredients in a ziplock bag (or really, any container) and smush around until well mixed. Add the steak and smush everything around again, making sure to coat the meat well. Let sit for four hours (or longer). Grill about four minutes per side and then let rest for 10 more minutes. Slice against the grain.
This steak was the perfect complement to this wine, which is one of our favorites.