WRITER’S BLOCK, Pan Sauce, and Pool Thoughts

Well, y’all.  It’s happened.  The truth is I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.  I have writer’s block.  I have been racking my brain since Monday, trying to figure out what to post today, and obviously, I didn’t come up with anything good because here we are.

I wrote about 650 words on my recent dietary restrictions, but oh, my gosh — how painful for you to read.  So today, I’m going to post the “recipe” for my favorite pan sauce because I have finally perfected cooking steaks at home, and I’m going to post the random things that I have been thinking at the gym while I swim because I finally went back after an absence of four months.

My favorite thing to do in the kitchen is to chop 15-20 vegetables into tiny dice for minestrone (if your vegetable pieces are not tiny enough to have a shot at getting every vegetable in each spoonful, the Italian chef I know says you’re doing it wrong).  My second favorite thing to do is to deglaze the fond from a pan and eat the delicious sauce.  Here’s what I do after I brown my steaks on the stove, finish them in a hot oven, then let them rest on a plate:

1.  Put the pan back on the stove, but don’t turn the burner back on.  The pan has been in a 450 degree oven, so it is plenty hot enough.
2. Pour 1/4 cup of red wine or white wine or brandy or beer or stock into the pan and smile at the sizzle.
3. Scrape up the lovely brown bits of deliciousness stuck to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add half a stick of butter that’s been cut into small, easily meltable pieces.
5. Add a tablespoon of dijon mustard so the sauce holds together.
6. Stir until combined, then pour into a serving bowl or cup.

My sister doesn’t love eating meat, and she is anti-butter (one year, she was in charge of Thanksgiving, and she managed to make it butter-free, quite a remarkable, if sad, accomplishment) and anti-alcohol.  But when I put this sauce on the table, she will start with a small spoonful and move to pouring it on her steak.  I understand that some of you may be rancher’s daughters (*cough* Carie *cough*) and believe that good meat doesn’t need sauce.  But sometimes exceptions have to be made for incredibly delicious sauces that allow you not to lose the fond (the brown bits) in the pan.

Here are the things that I said quietly to myself as I swam this week:

1.  Dude, it’s creepy for you to hang out on a bench in the pool area.
2.  Yup, still creepy.
3.  And now you’re talking on the phone.  Isn’t the echo a problem?  Isn’t my splashing a problem?  (I’m working on becoming a less splashy swimmer.)
4.  Oh, great.  Now there are three of you.
5.  And you’re all swimming.  And you’re horrible swimmers who are even splashier than I am.
6.  Did I just see someone jogging around the pool???
7.  I totally just saw someone jogging around the pool.
8.  It doesn’t seem safe to jog around a pool.  Maybe he works here and there’s an emergency?
9.  No.  He checked his watch and his pulse.
10.  It’s really hot in here — why is he jogging here?
11.  It’s got to be at least 85 degrees in here, and he is wearing a terry hoodie and sweatpants.  Why is he jogging in here?
12.  How is it possible I’ve only been swimming for 25 minutes?
13. I’m in a swimming pool. Why does it seem harder to swim back than out?
14. Pleasedon’tspeaktome, pleasedon’tspeaktome, pleasedon’tspeaktome.

Thank you for hanging in there this long.  Today is Miracle Treat Day at Dairy Queen.  For every Blizzard treat purchased, DQ will donate $1 or more to your local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.  I can’t go today, but I hope you will.

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