Asian Steak Kabobs | Post Grad | www.nicolelitton.com

Food Friday: Asian Steak Kabobs

Hey guys! As promised a guest post from the Mister today! Let us know if you try this out. We’d love to hear how it turns out or if you end up making any changes.

I’ve been putting this off for some time now, but am proud to finally have my first guest post on Post Grad.

I’m not nearly as handy as the Missus when it comes to projects for the home, but I do love to cook (and to eat) good food. There were a number of recipes to choose from, but in the end,I landed on some quick and easy Asian Steak Kabobs. We’ve made them a few times this summer, taking advantage of the nice weather, but grill season is sadly coming to an end soon (although Nicole knows I wouldn’t object if she proposed a frosty mid-winter barbeque).

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb flank steak
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped into 1′ inch squares
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 6 mushrooms, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar (palm sugar, if you have it)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp five spice powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Directions:

Start off with the marinade – minced garlic, soy sauce, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Mix in your spices, and – here’s the important part – taste and adjust. Maybe I’m biased – I’m not very good at following a recipe to the letter, tending instead to play it by ear. But in general, you’re going to be much more in control of the end product if you taste as you go. One of the great things about this dish is that, if you’re missing an ingredient or two, it’s very easy to adjust. Five spice, for example, is a ubiquitous spice in Chinese and Southeast Asian cuisine, but you’re less likely to find it in most cabinets elsewhere. You can substitute a little cinnamon, cayenne, and a tiny dash of ground cloves or fennel seeds.

When you’re happy with your marinade, set it aside and turn to your steak. Chop the steak into strips, roughly 1′ by 3′. If you have a thicker steak, you can chop it into large cubes instead, but I prefer the larger surface area afforded by thin strips; more marinade, and more grill flavor.  Carefully pour the marinade into a gallon zip lock bag, add the meat, seal the bag, and mix it all up. Let it marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. In the meantime, you can chop your vegetables into easily kabob-ed chunks, if you haven’t already.

Now, it’s time to assemble your kabobs. Note: If you’re using wooden skewers, you’ll have wanted to soak them in water for at least 20 minutes prior to keep them from burning on the grill. Luckily, my missus got me steel Fire Wire skewers for my birthday this year, which make the whole job much easier.  Thread on your assorted meats and veggies in any way you wish – no rules!

Heat up the grill, making sure to oil down the grates first to minimize sticking. Grill your kebabs on medium for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Stay by the grill to minimize flare-ups, if you can; otherwise, this is a relatively quick and low-maintenance dish, with a ton of flexibility.

We served these with cilantro-lime rice and grilled naan, and sprinkled sesame seeds on top.  Hope you enjoy these as much as we did, happy eats!

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We Interrupt This Project

… for a very important WEDDING!

We’ll be back after the weekend with more “exciting” tiling details, but we’ve got a wedding to get to!  My beautiful big sis is getting MARRIED this weekend.  Yay!!

Many thanks to some awesome friends of ours for giving up a night this week to help me and the Mister finish up the favors.  We seriously would never have been able to finish them in time without you guys.

Oh and look forward to a guest post from the Mister for tomorrow’s Food Friday!

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The Tell Tail Heart

You’ll get that pun later.

We’ve learned a lot about the history of construction during this bathroom project.  Maybe we just find it interesting because we’re here experiencing it in person and these discoveries are about our own house, but I thought I’d share some interesting knowledge we’ve acquired.

Our house was built in 1875.  So… it’s old.  Like most townhouses in Baltimore, it was originally a brick construction that has gone through various renovations over the years.  Since we were able to get permission to renovate the bathroom, we’ve had a unique opportunity that most renters never get to experience in their house.  We’ve been able to rip apart the various renovations of owners before our landlord and get a perspective on what was done and why.  Although more often than not, that why is left unknown because really… why would they do some of the crazy things they did?!  I sketched up a little floor plan of the bathroom and study to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about.

And yes, this is pretty darn close to being to scale as ridiculously tight and awkward as it looks.  OK, so we tore down the drywall around the 3 sides of the shower/tub.  In doing so, as I mentioned in my last post about the project, we discovered the original chimney (green) to the house that had just been covered in plaster and drywall (red).  What we weren’t expecting was that the study wall (blue) is made of lath, which we uncovered in that small section behind the tub.  In case you’re wondering, lath was commonly used in construction pre-drywall from like the 20s to around 1950.  So we’ve got a pretty good idea of when the bathroom/kitchen extension of the house was built.  We probably stood there for several minutes smiling like giddy children at our discovery.

So here’s where the title of the post comes into play.  While the Mister was off at his kickball game, I was going to try and set the niche in place.  Unfortunately, it’s a 4″ deep niche which would be great if there were 2×4 studs.  But the studs were more like 2×3’s back then.  In order to set the niche a little further in, I had to chip off some of the keys on the back side of the lath. Keys, you ask?  Keys are the curls of plaster on the backside that are necessary to hold the plaster onto the lath slats.  So it might seem like a bad idea to take them off, but it was a small section.  In the process, however, I uncovered something terrifying.  Hair.  I’m not talking a loose strand that may have gotten stuck in the plaster.  I mean… locks of reddish brown hair.

I froze.  You know that moment in every scary movie where the main character makes a discovery like this, turns around, and is attacked by some shreaking shadow?  Yeah that’s pretty much what I was expecting at this point.  I kid you not I walked into the study slowly just to double-check that my banging on the wall wasn’t pushing out some long-buried body.  I mean Poe lived in Baltimore… had to get inspiration for those crazy stories somewhere right?

Then my rational part of my brain kicked in.  First, send terrified text to the Mister.

Then, Google to find out if I should call the cops.  Turns out, back when lath was used in construction, they mixed horse hair into the plaster to help strengthen it.  Yep, I’d uncovered 80 year old horse hair.  So in case you’re doing some work with lath on your house anytime soon, don’t be surprised if you come across some hair.

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Food Friday: Fall Chili

One of my all-time favorite things about Fall is chili.  It’s such a perfect way to bring in the season, piled up watching football, drinking the new Octoberfest from a local brewery.  I love everything about it.

I actually got the original recipe from one of my best girlfriends, so thank you, Kristi!  We’ve tweaked and added to it over the past year making our own version of our favorite Fall recipe.  We’ll probably continue to change it depending on the day, but here’s where it stands now.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • Italian sausage – we just took two out of the pack of sausages, but you could easily double that
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • Two packs of French’s Chili-O mix (or your own chili seasoning mix if you’ve managed to perfect your own… we’re still working on that one)
  • 1 c. water (could use wine or beer)
  • 4 cans of beans (we go with 2 kidney, 1 white kidney, and 1 black beans can)
  • 3 tsp. of sugar
  • 1 c. corn

 

Directions:

Toss bacon pieces into a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  When bacon has crisped, remove pieces setting aside for later leaving bacon grease in the pot.  Remove sausage from casing and crumble in the saucepan.  Turn heat up to medium-high.  When sausage has browned, add the onion and garlic.  Cook until onions are slightly translucent.  Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for another minute.  Here’s where you could add a splash of wine or beer if you’d like.  We opted for a Pumpkin Ale since that’s what we were drinking at the time.  Otherwise, add the cup of water.

Now it’s just a matter of dumping cans.  Add all the tomatoes, sauce, corn, and beans.  Add the two packs of chili seasoning mix and the sugar.  Don’t forget to add your bacon bits back in! Cover and simmer on low heat for an hour or so… or until you get so hungry smelling it that you can hardly stand it any longer.

We ended up adding more chili powder to kick up the heat a bit.  And the Mister, unbeknownst to me, added some ground cloves (about 1/2 tsp) to play off the Pumpkin Ale he’d added earlier.

Serve hot with shredded cheddar, sour cream, green onions, and if you’re crazy hungry like us… Fritos!

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Demo Day: A story of mold, lath, and brick

Other considered subtitles:

  • How to annoy your neighbors with incessant hammering
  • A lesson in patience
  • Thank God it’s not our house?

 

So last Saturday I had a stroke of “genius” or possibly just a stroke, but I thought it was the P-E-R-F-E-C-T day to tear apart the bathroom and start tiling the shower surround.  So of course I woke the Mister up at the butt crack (sorry, Mom) of dawn to help me figure out what we needed from Home Depot.  I really hate wandering up and down aisles looking for things, so I try to pre-order … aka make some employee walk up and down the aisles shopping for me so that I can just show up when they’re done and be met with a cart full of goodies.

Here was our list:

  • white 3 x 6″ ceramic tiles (3 cases)
  • a tile cutter
  • 3 x 5′ sheets of cement backer board (4)
  • 1 gallon of pre-mixed (oh shush… it works just as well) thin-set mortar
  • mesh joint tape
  • 1 massive roll of roofing felt (for waterproofing)

 

One of the key features of this new shower surround, other than the fabulous white ceramic subway tile, is going to be the niche that we put up on the main wall.  It’s already such a narrow space and I’m constantly bumping elbows with one of the FOUR stupid shelves that poke out from the side causing whatever bottle or razor that was precariously balanced to tumble to my feet.  We didn’t want to lose any square footage in the shower, so an inset niche shelf was definitely the way to go… and they’re just cool.  Unfortunately, they don’t sell them in Home Depot or Lowes.  You can only buy them from their website.  And no rush shipping.  Bummer.  It wasn’t even noon yet and our project was already going to be delayed by 3-5  business days.  This is why you can’t have a weekend stroke of genius.

But we decided to go ahead and pick up some accent tiles to go inside the niche.  Our landlord requested we stick with neutral colors – a non issue, since we don’t tend to go too crazy with things like this anyway.  We did however find ourselves standing in the tile aisle having to remind ourselves that we weren’t picking out something that maybe we personally would want, but something a little more general.  Not everyone likes our idea of neutral and we needed to keep that in mind.  After laying several options down on the floor, narrowing it down to two, and pairing them with the white ceramic tiles we’d be using for the rest of the shower, we found a match.  Some beautiful white marble square tiles.

We decided to go ahead and get as much done as we could without the niche and just use plastic sheeting taped up to the walls to protect it from water while we continued to use our shower throughout the following week.  That’s actually been one of the few plans we had that has gone as we’d intended.  Many thanks to friends and neighbors for offering their showers this week though. haha

Demo day didn’t go quite like we’d intended.  As luck would have it and to no ones surprise, we discovered mold around the edge of the tub as we ripped off the existing plastic shower surround.  We also discovered the cheap plastic surround had been adhered directly to green board (gag) using what I can only assume was Liquid Nails.  Awesome.  What’s odd to me is that it looks like the green board had been painted yellow along with the rest of the bathroom at one point before the shower surround was in place.  Not sure if some genius thought they could get away with no shower surround for awhile.

 Demo day wasn’t without it’s fair share of unexpected excitement.  While out in the alley tossing more garbage, I heard an exclamation coming from our bathroom which I could only assume was a sign that something was going terribly wrong.  Much to my surprise, when I ran back up into the house, I discovered that the Mister had uncovered some of the house’s original brick.

Pretty nifty.  Anyway, that’s enough about demo for now.  Once I get access to all of my pictures from my nicer camera and have a chance to edit them, I’ll post a more thorough explanation of how to demo a shower surround.  I just wanted to give you all a little teaser from this past weekend.

What big projects are you tackling around this house this Fall?