Saturday, 22 March 2008

Winter's Last Hurrah and Perfectly Grilled Steaks

"I am the ressurection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." ~John 11:25-26

"There is nothing more universal than death, and nothing brighter with hope and faith than the assurance of immortality. The abject sorrow that comes with death, the bereavement that follows the passing of a loved one are mitigated only by the certainly of the ressurrection of the Son of God that first Easter morning, bringing the assurance that all will rise from the grave." ~President Gordon B. Hinckley

Winter is revisiting Oak Cottage this Easter weekend. The wind is buffeting all the trees and shrubs in the garden, and there is the steady scratch against the glass of my kitchen window pane of the branches of the rose bushes that grow outside, as they are blown to and fro. The sky is dull and grey . . . and rain lashes against our walls and windows. The wind is cold and in some places snow is expected . . . tis winter's last hurrah . . .

Easter is not usually like this, but then again, it is exceptionally early this year . . . and by several weeks.

It has been almost two years ago now since I lost my beloved Aunt Freda to cancer. It was very unexpected. We found out she had cancer shortly after Christmas that year, and she was gone less than six months later. One scarce had time to get used to the idea that she might die, before the unthinkable had happened. I don't suppose there is a day that goes by, when I do not think of her in some way.

When we first lost her, I cried hard and I cried often. I would be doing some task and the thought of her would come, and then next, the sorrow at her passing and the deep feelings of bereavement. It is good that the thoughts of losing her have now been replaced with memories of happier times spent together, and that I am able to think of her with fond smiles instead of sorrowful tears.

I speak of this today only because I can feel her here with me this morning. I have felt her close by these past few days, and indeed, last night, she came to me several times in dreams. Each time we spoke to each other . . . words that have now escaped me in my wakefulness. She appeared younger and more refreshed, and she was smiling and happy. It was lovely. One time she actually embraced me and I could feel her close, and breathe her in. My heart was filled with joy at this rare and unexpected blessing. It was a pretty wonderful feeling, and a special Easter gift just for me.

A reminder to me that, though we may tarry on this Earth for a number of years, our years are numbered, and that it is not truly our home. We only love and visit and learn here for a short time. Our real home is far away, and yet it is all around us . . . only a whisper separating us from those that have gone before, and, who wait for us to return to where we truly belong.

It is hard for those of us who are left behind. We feel their loss keenly. Thank God for the reassurance that is ours in knowing that this life here on earth is not all that there is, and that tis only temporary. There is a better place and He waits for us, along with our dear loved ones who have gone on before us.

Families are eternal. Death is not the end . . . it is only the beginning. There is far more joy to follow, and a greater joy than we can possibly imagine here in this mortal plane. I think Aunt Freda was telling me that last night . . .

That's what Easter is all about . . . death has lost it's sting . . .

We don't have red meat here at Oak Cottage very often. I prefer to save it as an occasional treat, so that when we do have it we will have some really nice chops or a meltingly tender steak. Todd is a meat and potatoes kind of a guy and while he rarely complains he does rebel if we eat chicken too many times throughout the week, no matter how tastily I try to disguise it. I served some delicious stip loin steaks for dinner a few nights ago accompanied with this tasty blue cheese butter which really went down a treat.

*Grilled Steak with Blue Cheese Butter*
Serves 2

Beautifully grilled steaks accompanied with a tangy and flavourful blue cheese butter that melts on top and dresses it up beautifully. If you love blue cheese you are really going to love this!

2 beef sirloin, strip loin or filet steaks
seasoning salt
cracked black pepper
worchestershire sauce

For the butter:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 TBS finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 TBS chopped fresh basil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

Pre-heat your grill to fairly hot. Take your steaks and sprinkle them evenly with the seasoning salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Spritz them all over with some worcestershire sauce and then leave them to marinate briefly while you wait for the grill to heat.

Combine the butter, blue cheese, parsley, basil and garlic together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Grill the steaks to the desired doneness under the heated grill. (in the summer you can do this on the barbeque)

Serve each steak topped with a generous amount of the butter mixture. You may chill any remaining butter which doesn't get used for another time. It's delicious melted atop hot cooked vegetables! (especially purple sprouting broccoli!)

Todd especially likes this with chips and I add always grill some mushrooms, onions and tomatoes on the side. They are great "go-with's", as well as a green salad.

*The Thumb Test for Firmness*

Have you ever wondered how to tell if your meat is done properly? Here's a simple way to judge the cooking of a piece of meat or poultry or fish. It's a trick we were taught in Culinary school. It's easy to compare it's resilience to that of your thumb muscle. The further the thumb has to reach across the hand, the more resilient the ball of the muscle becomes.

First finger stage - for blue meat and lightly cooked fish - touch your thumb to it's opposing first finger and press the ball of your thumb with teh tip of a finger of the other hand. The ball will offer no resistance.

Second finger stage - for rare meat - touch your second finger to yoru thumb and press the ball of your thumb - the ball will feel spongy.

Third finger stage - for medium cooked meat, game or duck, or well done fish - touch your third finger to your thumb and press the ball of your thumb - the ball will feel resistant.

Fourth finger stage - for well-done meat or poultry - touch your fourth finger to your thumb and press the ball of your thumb - the ball will feel firm.

Your meat will feel the same way when touched with the tip of your index finger, as the ball of your thumb does in each of these cooked stages. It may take a bit of practice but with time will become second nature to you and easy peasy.


  1. Thank you for all the wonderful compliments! I really appreciate it. You don't know how wonderful I feel every time you say my work touches you!

    The finger testing part at the end of your blog was wonderful! I never knew that. To think I could have stopped burning myself and just tried that instead!

    Steaks are delicious. My husband is a great steak afficando. He would eat steak every day if we could! :)

  2. Ohh Ducky, I hate to dissappoint you but you still have to touch the steak with your fingertip! Depending on how the steaks feels, that is how done it is. You judge by then using the finger test on the ball of your thumb. Oh, heck I amnot explaining this right am I!

  3. I am loving the blue cheese butter on the is flavour combination I am really enjoying lately. Thank you also for sharing your thoughts with us Marie. Enjoy your Easter:D

  4. There is far more joy to follow, and a greater joy than we can possibly imagine here in this mortal plane.

    Thank you for sharing this. I am just getting caught up with you and I needed those words this morning.

    You know...I love me a good steak! :)


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