The “Joy” of Cooking

When we lived in Georgia we had a short-lived tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve with my sister and brother-in-law. Sometimes at our place, sometimes at theirs. We have many wonderful memories of those evenings, but one year stands out in particular. My “Southern Fried” sister has recently been recounting her adventures with beef, and her ramblings conjure memories of a very special steak feast.

It was a beautiful New Year’s Eve in Atlanta that year, and the weather was perfect for grilling up some steaks.  The kids were off playing, the men were lighting the grill, and my sister and I were doing the food prep together.  My job assignment was oiling and seasoning the beautiful steaks.  The grill masters cooked each steak perfectly to order.  We all sat down and prepared to fill ourselves with some yum cow.  After a couple of bites I noticed a strange burning sensation in my mouth.  Not a spicy hot burning, but like a chemical burning.  Based on the faces I saw around the table, I could tell that everyone else was having a similar experience.  All of a sudden, something occurred to me.  I ran to the kitchen, on the way wanting to melt into the floor.  You see, my sister loves to decorate her kitchen up.  It is always one of my favorite places to be because it is so inviting, she thinks of all the details.  Details like tacky dishwashing liquid bottles that sit by the sink.  She doesn’t like them, so she had transferred all of her lemon dish soap into an unlabelled olive oil bottle.  Sitting on the counter near the sink.  (At this point I would just like to mention, in my own defense, that she had given me one of these oil bottles.  And, I stored my olive oil in it.          ’cause it is an oil bottle.                whatever.)  So, if you’re not familiar with olive oil, it’s yellowy green, kind of like, um, lemon dish soap.  I think you can put it all together.  Chef Mary had rubbed the beautiful, thick and tasty beef with dish soap.  And steak seasoning.  And, for the record, lemon dish soap does not taste lemony.  It just burns.  And so, we ate leftovers.

I would like to thank my very unforgetful family.  Every once in awhile, I get a comment, like “these steaks aren’t as lemony fresh as some others I’ve tasted.”  Or, “Mar, did you clean these steaks real good before you grilled them?”  Or the one donated by my generous sister one night as I was prepping some pork chops while talking to her on the phone, and she encouraged me to “be sure to cook those chops with Joy, sister.  Lemon Joy, that is.”  It’s been like 5 years, people.  While I didn’t discover an amazing new way to marinate steaks, and seriously, I don’t recommend the soap method…every time we splurge on a steak night, I get a lot of joy from the memories.


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