The Magic Meal Appeal of Summer

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

There are so many reasons to love summer.  I love it for the same reasons most of us do – the warm days, pleasant evenings, days at the pool, flip-flops, the lazier schedule.  As much as I adore summer for those things, like most seasons, their allure starts to fade around the beginning of August.  I’m over the heat, the sunscreen, the one rogue flip-flop that always goes missing.  I’m ready for a change.

But there’s one thing about summer that I love above everything else, and it’s the one thing that I’m always so sad to see go, the one thing I cling to for as long as the weather will allow.

It’s the magical meal appeal of summer.

For a good part of the year I rack my brain to come up with meals that make (almost) everyone (mostly) happy.  There are three things that have to happen for a meal to be what I consider a home run:

1. We all sat down to eat it together.

2. It’s fairly balanced and nutritious.

3. No one complains about what’s on their plate.

Let me tell you, most of our meals are more like the Cubs than the Yankees.  We’ll get on base, but we’re not hitting many homers.  And honestly, if we can hit two out of three most nights, I’m okay with that.  But there’s something about summer meals that gets us on a streak.  We recruit a new player to the team: the grill.

There’s something about food on the grill that appeals to my kids and so we roll with it all summer long.  There’s so much for a mom to love, too.  Most food on the grill tastes better if it’s given a little love beforehand.  I can take whatever meat we’re having for dinner that evening, throw it in a little rub or marinade, and feel so productive and on top of my game before the day is half done.  With the meat doing its thing in the fridge, we’re free to spend our afternoon at the pool instead of slaving in the kitchen.  A few hours later, the grill gets fired up and a good part of the meal is cooked on something that never sees your sink or dishwasher.

The kids have yet to meet a hunk of grilled meat they don’t rave about, but this grilled flank steak is our favorite.  Flank steak is a reasonably priced cut of meat, the marinade comes together quickly, and everyone raves about it like you’ve served them meat candy.  Pair it with some of the great produce that abounds in the summer – last night I served it with sweet corn and watermelon – and you have yourself a home run meal.

When the kids have cleaned their plates in record time, let them partake in another of my favorite things about summer: portable dessert that tastes better outside.  Everybody wins.

Zoku Lemonade Quick Pop

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Makes 4-8 servings

Ingredients

  • Juice from one lime
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or a combination of the two
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced, fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 flank steak, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds

Directions

  1. Combine all the seasonings in a shallow container or ziploc bag and marinate the steak for 30 minutes to 4 hours (the longer the better, but I’ve done it at the last minute and it’s still delicious).
  2. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry it well with paper towels.  Light the grill, oil the grates and make it very hot (I leave the burner on our gas grill to medium-high).  Grill the steak for about 4 minutes per side, until it has a nice crust.  If you like your meat a little more well done, move it to a cooler part of the grill and cook for another 2 minutes per side.  If you like it bloody juicy like us, remove it from the grill.  You can always check for doneness with a meat thermometer (125° F is about right for medium-rare, 135° F – 140° F for medium).
  3. Let the steak rest for 5 – 10 minutes before cutting into thin slices across the grain.

I’m happy to partner with Indiana Family of Farmers as a Table Talk Contributor.  Many thanks to Indiana Family of Farmers for providing me with some inspirational gifts around this month’s Table Talk theme of Cool Treats & Grilled Meats.  Did you know that July is National Ice Cream Month?  Find great recipes and learn more about Indiana’s farming families through the Indiana FOF website, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.

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