Who Has Time to Measure?

Plus, a recipe for steak to feed a discerning family of carnivores

Honestly. When it comes to cooking, what parent has time to measure?
Your arrive home at, what, 5:53 if you’re lucky? More likely something
like 6:38. Or later. Everyone has their own touch down time. No matter
what they are, those are tough numbers with the kids waiting.

Then: cook dinner. It could be a microwaved something or other at High for 2 minutes.

Or, it could be a recipe that lists 12 ingredients. 5 of which you
have. Or 5 ingredients. 2 of which you have. One of them being water.

And then it’s on to 1/4s, 1/2s, cups, Ts, tablespoons.

I’ve never liked math and never will. I don’t like measuring (okay
weekend bakers: I know, you have to measure. Granted. Meanwhile, we’ve
got a week of meals to cook).

In a newspaper profile of a chef I read a while back (I’m blanking
on who it was), the chef said something that resonated with this
exhuasted father. The reporter asked him how much of some ingredient
he’d put in his dish. The chef answered: “A tablespoon? A half
tablespoon? I have no idea. I don’t live my life that way and I
certainly don’t cook that way.” I instantly thought: that guy must be a
dad.

Any parent knows that even the most important measures (age, IQ,
grades) mere suggestions or innacurate relfections of what actuall is,
and that life doesn’t pour itself into these measures with precision or
predictability. Sure, an exact recipe can be a refuge. But try telling
that to someone who walks in the door to see hungry kids in need of
food that makes them happy. Helps them grow. Then, try feeding them AND
the parents too. In one meal. That’s the dream, isn’t it? It’s mine.

Wouldn’t you rather go from a list of suggestions, going with your
eyes, your hand, your gut, learning how to cook intuitively? You’ve
freed yourself from your hourly consultations of the baby manual. Now
it’s time to do the same with the cookbook. Try it with this recipe. No
precise measurements required.

A No Measure Meal to Feed a Family of Four (or a happy loving couple for two days; and a single person for three days)
I know from experience that people of the following ages LOVE this meal
(and these are the last numbers you’ll see in this recipe): 2, 5, 35,
36.

Granted, this is much much more verbose than your usual recipe, but it gets at the ambition to be free from measures, gets at the meaning behind the moves. I beg your indulgence for the next three and half precious minutes.

A big juicy steak, big enough to feed your family
(porterhouse, rib eye, new york all sound pretty good. you can also go
flatiron, or a couple of skirts). Salt and pepper the heck out
of it. Grill it. Or sear it over high heat in an olive oiled pan. Or
broil it. Whatever your method, do it until it’s crusty on the outside
and medium rare on the outside. Achieve this by not a roaring, blasting
heat. No, what you want is a confident, steady, moderate but forcefull
heat. Enough heat to crust it up, but not scorch it. Medium rare for
the kids you ask? Yep. For the kids too. Don’t let them become those
weird people who like their steak medium. They can handle it. Whatever
the cut, slice it into… uh… slices.

Some juicy tomatoes, sliced up, or diced, if that’s how you’re kids like ‘em (for adults only I’d just slice ‘em).

A huge pile of arugula. Rinsed and dried. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Toss (why? because you want them all coated with a little flavor to egg them along, right?)

a few pieces crusty white bread (rustic, not factory; white,
not wheat, not sour dough, which are both too strong and incompatable
with the other great flavors), grilled off or toasted in the toaster or
broiler. You want them a little tan. A little crustier. A little more
intense in flavor. But not so crunchy it’s hard for the kiddies to eat.

Some parmesan (the Italian stuff, aka parmigianno reggiano), shaved. The parents love this stuff. The kids love this stuff.

Now that you’ve done all that, assemble it thus:

On a big platter, lay down the arugula, then the tomatoes on top, then the sliced beef. Serve with the bread.

Daters and childless: you’ve got the time to think of how to make it pretty. Figure it out.

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