A firm believer in the notion that sometimes, the simplest things are the best things, my first “recipe” here at the blog will not be a recipe at all, just the brief recounting of a pretty basic meal: sirloin steak, mashed potatoes & green beans.
Fresh from beneath the broiler–a nice crisp on the outside, still steaming & juicy on the inside. Medium-rare, edging on rare, just how I like it. My favorite side dish in the universe, mashed potatoes. (Perhaps someday, the story of mashed potatoes on the ceiling will make its way onto the blog.) And fresh steamed green beans because, let’s face it, our tummies need a little help digesting meat, and green veggies are good for us.
Simple. No frills.
But of course, why would I post about a steak that didn’t have a back-story? And this is a good one. Because I bought this steak … at an auction.
Yes, you read that correctly. I bought meat at a live auction.
Here’s the whole story: Every year, Flyway , the literary magazine run by my MFA program, (Iowa State University’s one-of-a-kind MFA in Creative Writing & Environment) hosts a live auction as a fundraiser to keep publishing the magazine. It’s your standard low-key but nighttime affair: cash bar, jazz musicians, a poetry slam, etc. but the night culminates in a live auction wherein attendees (mostly graduate students and faculty members) bid on donated goods.
This past November, some kind soul donated five boxes of grass-fed, antibiotic-free, organic meat. Each box was estimated to be worth well over $150.
Not long ago, the idea of bidding on a box of meat at an auction would probably have been something I would have attempted to make a joke about. But after a couple of years of co-ops, buying clubs and very, very high price tags (again, for a grad student) that cardboard box of frozen flesh was looking pretty good for the low, low starting bid of $20.
I used my very best puppy-dog eyes on Scott, who had the checkbook and the auction card, who also loves a good grass-fed Juicy Lucy or slow cooker jambalaya with organic pork sausage (recipes to come!) and he flashed that bidding number like it was nobody’s business. Because there were five boxes of meat, and only about fifty people present, we walked out of the Flyway benefit auction that night with a whole roast chicken, four top sirloin steaks, four packages of maple breakfast sausage, four gigantic pork chops, a pound of ground lamb, a pound of ground beef, and a full lamb shank–all for just 36 bucks. We are STILL working our way through that box of meat.
And that is your introduction, dear readers, to just how far I will go for good, local meat. That’s what I call a victory.
Though I have to say, I also consider it a victory that I made it through this entire post without snickering to myself about the term “meat box.”