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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Salad Greens and Steak Rub

My husband arrived home late Wednesday from an event he had organized. As a side benefit the left over food was split amongst the guys who wanted it. This meant an influx of foods like processed lunch meats, pre-sliced cheeses, store bought bread and a few snack type items. While the cheeses and unopened snacks will keep for a couple of weeks the opened packages and lunch meats won't. So we are in sandwich mode!

salad greensSalad Greens

My raised garden beds have been progressing nicely despite a late start. Pictured are my four square feet of salad greens. Aren't they gorgeous? In the top left corner is Chinese mustard. Next to that is Grand Rapids leaf lettuce. The two squares at the bottom is mesclun mix. Look at how much produce is coming out of 4 square feet! With reseeding after each cutting we will have more than ample salad greens to last us until first frost. This is a huge savings considering we eat salad almost daily! More importantly the greens are fresher than anything you can buy in the grocery stores. The taste is unbeatable! I snip the greens as I need them within minutes of serving. I rinse well with a light spray so as to not bruise the greens. Then I pat dry between two t-towels before using.

sandwichesSandwiches

During the summer months we love power sandwiches. These are sandwiches made with home grown produce on homemade whole grain breads using home cooked meats with cheese but the real focus is on the vegetables. Garden fresh vegetables include cucumber, tomatoes, onions and salad greens. Fresh from the pantry is alfalfa sprouts.

Well, thanks to the influx of food I had almost a loaf of whole wheat bread to use up along with the cheeses and lunch meats. So I made a modified version of power sandwiches. I paired turkey breast lunch meat with Swiss cheese and Grand Rapids lettuce for my husband sandwiches pictured in the top picture. I would have added tomatoes if I had them but mine are setting fruit and I'm not buying store bought if at all possible. Why? Home grown tomatoes taste so much better so I'll wait with much anticipation!

I made a roast beef and cheddar cheese sandwich on whole wheat with Grand Rapids lettuce and Chinese mustard. The Chinese mustard adds a nice mild, peppery flavour. It's important when growing Chinese mustard to not let the plant leaves get too large or they will be bitter and to let one plant go to seed to collect for the following growing season.

steal rubPrep & Cooking

Thursday night we had New York Strip steaks for dinner. Normally steaks are grilled and served without sauce or seasonings to let the flavour of the organic, hormone free beef shine though. This time I decided to get a bit creative with mine by using a rub. A rub is a mixture of dry ingredients consisting usually of salt, sugar, spices and/or herbs. What a rub does is adds a lot of flavour similar to a marinade. You can use a pre-made mixture or make your own.

I used Dean Jacobs's Savory Mesquite rub for this steak that was part of a gift package I received. Ingredients in the rub blend are "salt, spices, onion, garlic, mesquite flavor, caramel color, natural flavorings and silicon dioxide". This is precisely what I don't like about some commercial blends as the spices and natural flavourings are not specified which could be a problem for anyone with food sensitivities or food allergies. I am going to start experimenting with homemade rubs so watch for more on that in future posts.

Using a rub is rather easy. The prepared rub is simply sprinkled onto the meat then rubbed in. The meat is then refrigerated to let the seasonings penetrate throughout the meat. Once the meat has been seasoned it is time to grill. As you can see there is a definite difference between plain meat and meat with a rub on the grill. Both steaks were cooked to medium rare.

Method: To use a rub, place the meat on a cutting board. Sprinkle the rub over the meat then with a gentle rotating motion rub it into the meat covering all sides. Place in a zipper style bag and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

savory mesquite steakSavory Mesquite Steak

Both the seasoned and unseasoned New York strip steaks were grilled to medium rare. Sides included home canned green beans, frozen cauliflower and pickled beets. The steaks were garnished with caramelized onions.

In a comparison taste test my husband preferred the unseasoned steak. His two complaints were the salty taste and the mesquite flavour. I liked the flavour but not the salty taste. One reason both of us immediately noticed the salt is because we use so little of it and when we do it is sea salt (Mediterranean, French Grey, Alaca Hawaiian) or Himalayan pink salt depending on the food. Unlike regular iodized salt that adds that salty taste the aforementioned salts add flavour as well.

This experiment gave me an idea of where to start with homemade rubs. I know the salt I use will likely be a sea salt and only in the amount to add flavour without being overpowering. Experimenting with homemade rubs should be a lot of fun!


2 food lovers commented:

JMom said...

My husband loves the mesclun mix too and he plants a ton of them that we can hardly eat them all in time! Our neighbors like it though :)

Great photos of the sandwiches and steaks as well!

Garden Gnome said...

Hi JMom! Thanks for the lovely compliments :) I don't think you can ever have too much mesclun mix :) We've offered some to our neighbours as well even though more will be sown from now into September.

Those buttermilk fried pork chops look rather tasty. I'm headed over to spend a bit of time on your blog :)