Tom’s Beef Jerky

jerky to oven Today’s Food Friday entry is a bit of a mixed bag results wise. My son and I both enjoy good beef jerky, so I enlisted him to help make some at home. To that end, Penny and I made our first mistake. As the raw material, we purchased 2 pounds of sirloin steak or $16 worth of meat. Why was this a mistake? We could have selected a less expensive cut of meat and obtained equally good–maybe better–jerky. After all, why would you take a juicy cut of meat only to dry it out?

jerky sliceWe tossed the meat into the freezer to harden it up. This was not a mistake as it sliced beautifully on the slicer’s thinnest setting. Tom thought we did not slice it thinly enough, but I’m inclined to go a bit thicker next time.

jerky_ingredThe marinade we used combined a host of ingredients, all of which could be plucked out of our cupboards. I’m going to save the recipe for that marinade for a more successful batch of jerky. Instead I’d prefer to focus on what went wrong here.

We tossed the sliced meat into a zip-lock bag with the marinade and deposited that bag into the refrigerator for 24 hours. That 24 hours wound up being 36 hours. I’m not sure if that was a mistake or not. Regardless, it is what we did.

With the meat dripping in spicy goodness, we spread it out onto baking trays and placed it into the oven. It was important to have the oven set high enough to dry the meat but not so high that the meat actually cooked. The proper temperature range is 180 to 200 degrees. We opened the oven door slightly so that the moisture could escape. At least I think that is why we did it. Happily, it was a cool day when we made our jerky so that the heat from the open oven didn’t overwhelm the house.

Tom estimated that it would take 4 hours to dry the meat. He wound up taking it out at about 3.5 hours, yielding jerky that reminded me of crunchy bacon. I wasn’t thrilled.

That’s not to say that the jerky tasted bad. It was fine, but there wasn’t much chew left in this super-dry stuff. That’s part of my reasoning for slicing thicker next time. We dumped the entire product in a gallon bag. A couple of days later, I noticed that the bag was nearly empty. Clearly, Tom did not find the resulting product inedible.

We wound up with 13.3 ounces of jerky. Purchase cheap jerky–there really isn’t such a thing, I’ve found–and you’ll pay a good $25 for it. At roughly $18 in cost, our jerky was reasonably cost effective, but a cheaper cut of meat will, I think, not only save us money but produce a better end result.

The Trifecta of Food Stewardship

Cooking at HomeIf you haven’t already figured it out from my posts, I am enthusiastic about wise eating, that is eating that is

  1. Healthy
  2. Economical
  3. Simple

Of course, food ought to taste good too, but I feel as if that goes without saying. The problem with a lot of modern eating is that it misses out on at least two of the three factors by being done via restaurants.

An article by Taylor Lee over at Pennyhoarder goes right up my way of thinking but adds some practical suggestions for how to make cooking at home not only cheaper and healthier than restaurant fare but also at least as convenient as getting in the car and heading to Applebee’s.

Every meal I plan has to fit three requirements:

  1. It has to be a recipe I enjoy eating.
  2. It has to be easy to make, with no more than 30 minutes of prep time.
  3. I should already have all the tools I need to prepare the dish on hand.

She has plenty more good stuff to share as well. Check it out.

New Age Onion Slicing

I’ve never been one for all the New Age hocus pocus, but if works, who am I to say no? I’m pretty sure that the onions mentioned in Numbers 11:5, the only mention of onions in the Bible, I’m pretty sure, were cut up using crystals. But then those Egyptians are behind most of the best New Age stuff, aren’t they?

If you’re looking for deep spiritual truth here, you’ve picked the wrong entry. Just enjoy.

Pot Roast Testimony–1 John 5:9

We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.–1 John 5:9

How long does it take to cook a pot roast? Four hours? No. This morning, I was watching Rachael Ray, and she made a variation on pot roast that only took the time between two commercial breaks. Amazing, eh? At every juncture, every showing of the wonderful-looking slab of meat, the studio audience broke into “spontaneous” cheering. But who wouldn’t these people all knew they were going to get a bite of that marvelous meat.

Rachael’s pot roast tasted fabulous. How do I know? Does my television have state-of-the-art fragrance emitters? Not exactly. I know that her roast was great because she said it was great, and she is Rachael Ray. The opinion of Rachael Ray is trustworthy because she says that it is. And would they audience have been cheering if the food weren’t delicious (even though they haven’t eaten any)?

I’m indulging in circular reasoning here, but I’m in good company since John is doing the same thing. The testimony of God is trustworthy because it’s the testimony of God. But why? At some point, asking why, we might wind up sounding like a little child who asks “why?” about every answer. Somewhere along the line, when asked “why?” enough times, the adult has to say, “That’s just the way it is.” Similarly, when dealing with testimony, we have to stop doubting at some point or just wallow in endless uncertainty.

When it comes to pot roast, I’m willing to stop my doubting in the kitchen of Rachael Ray. In matters of eternity, I’ll go to a more venerable chef and trust in the testimony of God.