Things You Can Do To Steak

Hi, I’m an omnivore. I believe passionately and vocally that humans are on top of the food chain and the point of eating is to fuel our bodies, and that meals are the truest divine experience possible – food is love, and you share it and you put it in you.

I understand that many people have other viewpoints, most of which I disagree with or find speciously supported through assumptions. But hey, if you don’t like meat, you don’t like meat. Skip this blog post and we’ll catch up later.

But now, here, have two meals that will knock peoples’ socks off:

Steak with Bordelaise Sauce

INGREDIENTS
1 cup red wine (No I don’t care what kind, I’d recommend you use the same stuff you’d drink with this meal — If you don’t drink wine, I’ll point out you can have a beer with this meal)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 shallots, finely diced (they come in bundles usually, get 1 bundle, use 2 shallots from the bundle. Save the rest for making recipes fancy by using 1 in place of an onion)
1 bay leaf
6 tbsp. Demi-Glace (for now, you’re going to buy this in a store. Later, I will show you how to make this)
Steak! I don’t care what kind of steak, but let’s assume you’re cooking for 2, so get a decent pair of filets or ribeyes or something thicker than skirt and ideally with the word “Choice” on the label.

** I’m assuming you’re going to make this meal to impress someone, so let’s say you spend that extra money you were going to spend on porn in case your date didn’t work out and buy 2 filet mignon **

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, diced
1 tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

INSTRUCTIONS

Before you start – Heat your oven to 500° F

1. Make the sauce: In a 2-quart. saucepan (you may recognize this as the thing you make soup in), combine wine, thyme, shallots, and bay leaf. Reduce wine over medium-high heat until almost completely evaporated (that means look for steam and it should smell like wine). Discard the thyme and bay leaf; stir in demi-glace. Yes, it’s supposed to look shiny. Yes, it can be a little thick. If it’s watery or not shiny, you need to keep cooking it down. You can test this by putting a spoon in it, then watching it drip off the back. Does it look like Nyquil? Awesome. Cover it, remove from the heat, and set it aside.

2. Prepare the filets: Season filets with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 10″ skillet (that pan you use every time) over high heat. Sear steaks, flipping once, until browned, 4 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven; roast until steaks are medium rare, 4–5 minutes if your oven is fickle. Place steaks on a plate; let rest.Take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the plate loosely. Leave them alone. They’re fine. Don’t poke them. Just let them sit there.

3. THIS STEP IS GOING TO REQUIRE YOU TO PICK UP A POT IN ONE HAND AND USE YOUR OTHER TO STIR. THAT POT IS GONNA BE HOT. BE CAREFUL. Let’s sauce the steak: Put the saucepan back on medium heat. Whisk in butter (that means either use a wisk or a fork, let’s be real here – you probably have more forks than whisks). Remove saucepan from heat; stir in parsley and season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer steaks to cutting board; add juices from plate to pan and stir. Spoon 2 tbsp. sauce onto each of the plates. Slice steaks into ¼”-thick slices; divide between plates. Sprinkle with rosemary and thyme; drizzle each steak with 1 tbsp. sauce. Serve with salad or something green on the plate so people can be proud of you, if you like.

Steak Diane

2 tbsp. canola oil
STEAK. I like 2 ribeyes for this, because you can slice them.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1½ cups beef stock (buy it in a carton)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced (or take 2-ish large spoonfuls of the jarred stuff)
1 shallot, minced
4 oz. mushrooms that you’re going to cut into pieces
¼ cup cognac or brandy (this is because we’re going to do something fancy to it. This isn’t for drinking)
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard (it’s gotta be Dijon. Yellow and Deli DO NOT work)
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco (or whatever you dig, but you need some)
1 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tbsp. minced chives

** mincing something means cutting it into TINY pieces, Think pencil erasers or smaller.**

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Season steaks with salt and pepper, and add to skillet; cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and cooked about 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare.

Transfer steaks to a plate, and set them aside. Take a piece of aluminum foil and cover them.

2. Return the skillet (yes we’re using the same pan) to high heat, and add stock (WARNING: This is going to hiss and smoke. Be careful. Go slow); cook it down until reduced until it’s about half gone, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl, and set it aside. (Also, congratulate yourself, you just deglazed something. You’re like four times cooler than anyone on Chopped.)

Return the skillet to heat, and add butter; add garlic and shallots, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes (you want them to be sort of shiny). Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until they release any liquid and it evaporates and mushrooms begin to brown, about 2 more minutes.

OKAY HERE COMES THE PART YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT. GO GET A MATCH. TEXT SOMEONE THAT YOU ARE ABOUT TO USE FIRE. MAKE SURE CHILDREN AND PETS ARE IN THE OTHER ROOM. MAKE SURE SOMEONE IS READY TO RESPOND WITH HELP IF YOU BURN DOWN YOUR HOUSE. NO I AM NOT JOKING. FIRE IS COOL, BUT YOU CAN MESS YOUR SHIT UP THAT WAY. Ready? DO NOT LEAN OVER THE PAN WHILE YOU DO THIS, THAT’S HOW YOU DO BAD THINGS TO HAIR AND EYEBROWS.

Move the pan to a part of the stove not hot (like the other burner!) Add the cognac, and light with a match to flambée (you won’t need to do much, the fumes will catch. THIS WILL NOT LOOK LIKE A CAMPFIRE. THIS WILL LOOK LIKE A BIC LIGHTER); put it back on the fire and cook until the flame dies down. It won’t take long. When you don’t see fire, move to the next paragraph.

Stir in that stock you used over in step 2, the cream, Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce, and then return steaks to skillet; cook, turning in sauce, until warmed through and sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Transfer steak to serving plates and stir parsley and chives into sauce; pour the sauce over steaks to serve.

Enjoy your food.

My 2015 Dreamation Schedule

My apologies for the late schedule. Next week (Thursday through Sunday), I’m at Dreamation, and I’m doing quite a few things.

THURSDAY

THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 8PM TO 12AM Noir World: Criming Up The Social Ladder. This event isn’t listed on the schedule because there are 869 events and it just wasn’t possible to fit me in there. I get it. BUT! That doesn’t mean the game can’t go on! I’ll be in the lobby, so if you want to play, come find me, and we’ll go find a table for a few hours.

FRIDAY

THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 9AM TO 1PM Noir World: Heist-A La Vista, Baby. I’ll be at the hotel that morning, very eager to run a Noir World session you won’t forget. Again, just come find me in the Lobby, and we’ll find a table for a few hours.

R271: Friday, 8:00PM – 12:00AM “Noir World: Closing Crime” presented by John Adamus. Noir World is a storytelling game that sits at the intersection of film noir, murder mysteries and tragic personal dramas. Your Role can be anything from Private Eye to Girl Friday, your story is up to you. In the black, white and rainy City, this tragedy is all yours.

SATURDAY

R321: Saturday, 2:00PM – 6:00PM “Noir World: A Crime Worth Remembering” presented by John Adamus. Maybe you’ll be criminals planning the big score. Maybe you’ll be cops tracking down who got bumped off. Maybe you’ll be spoiled socialites glitzing it up. Whatever happens, it will be noir. It will be black, white and plenty of shades of gray. It will be tragic and grim and fun.

THIS EVENT ISN’T ON THE BOOKS! 8PM to 12AM Noir World: Four and Twenty Blackbirds baked in a DIE. Once more into that tragic breach dear friends. Spend Saturday night being awesome and dramatic and let us all have a good time.

SUNDAY

D869: “The DREAMATION 2015 Writer’s Workshop” Sunday, 12:00PM – 3:00PM A discussion and workshop of what’s needed to take your ideas and make them practical – turning your imagination into a real game or book. Join me in this discussion of what you can do to make your creation come to life, while avoiding typical pitfalls, stumbling points and roadblocks along the way.

I look forward to seeing you there. Have a great time, write and create awesome things.

You can register for Dreamation here.

Love What You Make

Trigger warning for suicide, addiction, recovery, self-harm. But it gets better.

First of February. Super Bowl Sunday. Many people will be happily around a TV, beer in hand, cheering on a game marked by terrible commentary (give me commercialless RedZone and Scott Hanson all day) and commercials that seem to promote controversy or conversation rather than products. People go banana for this, and I can’t say I share their unbridled joy.

Because last year, I was dying. Blood on the floor sort of dying. The serious kind. I hated myself. I hated what I had become. I hated what I was doing to other people. Life was not an experience in joy and happiness, it was torture for hours on end, punctuated by a few hours of sleep where my brain lectured me on what I was doing wrong. To put it mildly, it sucked.

Life as an addict is not what they show you on TV. There’s no orchestral swell, there’s no tight close-up on someone’s face as they hit some rush of bliss, which then allows them to solve the mystery of the week or grants them insight to handle a problem. It’s also not some glamorized crime cycle. It’s dull. It’s tedious. It’s a craving and inserts itself into your life with all the bluster of a roommate who doesn’t pay rent and who thinks anything in the fridge is fair game. You find yourself lost to it. Lost to the mechanical process. Begging every situation to let you cater to a chemical. And we’re not even talking about the social pressure, guilt, and shame that you feel when you realize this is the sort of “disgusting” behavior that you’re “not supposed to do.” Forget criminal activity, our culture makes an addict a glamorous leper.

So, I’m less concerned with the game, and more focused on the distance between that life and this one. This post goes live on Sunday, which means it’s my 364th day sober. And the old me, that guy who existed more than lived, that guy who wrecked friendships and relationships and who left a trail of destruction tornadoes could be proud of, he died on that bathroom floor. He had to. There weren’t any other options after you carve a misspelled word in your arm (hey’s it’s hard to spell upside down, and you have to do it upside down, so that other people can see it later). He’s dead. I’m still mourning him. I’m still pissed at him.

But in his place, I showed up. The me now started that Monday, all bandaged up and in a fog of what-the-hell-do-I-do-now. I landed myself in a really nice facility and cleaned up. I give no specific details, but you won’t need them for what I’m going to talk about now.

Somewhere, about a week in, when people were pretty sure I wasn’t going to escape or hurt myself, about the time when I got to enjoy sharing meals with people (Because I could taste food for the first time in years, rather than having about a third of my palette working), I was told I’d need something to do between the hours of therapy and sleeping. I had options, and was told if I was good at it and well-behaved, I’d be given a few more rewards (I think an extra phone call was on the line, I don’t remember). I chose to work in the kitchen.

Now this wasn’t an institution, this was a private facility, so the food was fresh and seasonal and not too far from what I would make at home. I still had to be supervised (because knives), but I got to do something that I was good at. I got trusted to do a thing that other people were counting on. If I slacked, people didn’t eat. If I slacked, I’d be back under lockdown and they’d probably take away something I earned for myself.

But in that kitchen, I wasn’t doing it just so that I didn’t get in trouble. That was one of the primary directives of the dead-me: Do work just enough so that people don’t yell at you or think you’re lazy. I was in that kitchen because I can love people in that space. I can put food on plates that makes people feel good. Something I create not only cares for people (filling them with nutrients to live) but also expresses how I feel about them. Love someone? Make food they’ll smile about. Hate someone? Make food so good they’ll reconsider how they feel about you.

Food is love. Making things is love. You care enough to show people that something you’re making or doing is important to you to the point where you feel driven to share it … because not sharing it would be depriving good people the chance to share in something beautiful and awesome.

So in that kitchen, I held a knife and helped cook. It was sort of like having your child on a stepstool next to you while you do the serious work, but help is help and everything in the kitchen comes together to give an experience. It’s a machine, it’s either going to work or it’ll seize up and not get anywhere. I helped. It was the first thing this-me ever did, and the fact that it was a demonstration of skill and love is fundamental to who I am now.

It was simple food (compared to what I’m doing lately), but I cared about doing a good job – not so that people would praise me, but because if I did good job, I could feel good about it. That’s important – the times I deviate from that and do things to get praise, it stresses me right out and I’m a wreck.

I love what I make. I don’t care if it’s something simple like meat and egg breakfast or more complex like eastern european paella . I don’t care if we’re talking my game or my character in someone else’s game. I love what I make. There’s joy there. There’s peace there. It makes life fun.

I still believe in “Do what you love”, but I think there’s a corollary about loving what you do. Sure, there are tasks that you’re doing because of responsibilities or obligations or expectations (that day job so you can afford rent and electricity so you can come home and do something you’re excited to do, for instance), but I’m not talking about the stuff that has to be done to make room for other stuff. That other stuff? That’s where you live. That day job or obligation-stuff is Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne, your cover story until it’s time to get your cape and groove on.

There’s no denying that the stuff you love can be hard work at times. It can be tough to compete with the build-up you give it in your head, it can be tough to actually make yourself do the thing (like writing regularly or spending time blogging or whatever), but when you love what you produce, the hard work has an undeniable value – either in the lessons learned along the way or by the end result (ideally both).

Today I cross another thing off my bucket list, and I will (work hard to) spend the day celebrating the me that is here, not fighting the me that’s gone.

Go tell people you love them. Go make some happiness for yourself and others.

You’re awesome.