Thursday, June 05, 2008

Pepper Steak - a family drama

This post was inspired by Debby, who must learn to put on mosquito repellent; BrissieMum2, who has a child wanting to feed the family; and Alice, who broke her arm. If you think any of your posts added any influence, please feel free to claim your kudos in the comments...

When I was younger (so much younger than today) - sorry, my daughter hates that she is in a family that breaks into song at the slightest provocation.

As I said, when I was 11 my mother fell quite ill with a virus known as Ross River Fever. It was early days of understanding of the illness (not a great deal has changed since then) but her symptoms were periodic arthritic swelling of joints, pounding headaches and days of being unable to move through lack of energy and overwhelming pain. The only thing that was a known factor about it was that it was mosquito borne and it could take months or years to get out of the system.

Luckily for my mother, she had me. My sister had just begun boarding school and I was my "mother's little helper" anyway, taking great delight in reading recipe books for fun, was so good at pegging out, folding, sweeping and cleaning.

Listen, THIS IS MY BLOG so those of you snickering down the back at Cinder-Jeanie can just go straight to the comments box and say sorry now!

As I said, my mother had the joy of a built in housekeeper whose only complaint was that our dinners, while filling and nutricious (and fairly easy to cook) were nowhere near as fancy as those I had chanced upon in my research.

Therefore, on the days when my mother was too poorly to give me the instruction to cook a standard, I would expand the family repertoire little by little, herb by herb, spice by spice.

One day, when Mum was up and about and a bit better, a message came from the Red Roofed Jail. My sister had started basketball. She had her first game. She and another collided. She fell awkwardly. She broke her arm.

Now, you may not be aware that, due to the fact that my father threw himself into the path of danger fairly often during my childhood, our parents had actually formed a good relationship with an orthapedic surgeon, and so when doubts were raised over the setting of her arm Mum drove 3 1/2 hours to collect her and another 4 hours to our surgeon for a second opinion.

Aha - not only was Mum not there to give direction, she was nowhere near me to "advise" on the delicacies of my brother's and father's tastes - and thus her plans of "steak and vegetables" morphed into a little dish I had often wanted to experiment with - Pepper Steak!

It smelled delicious. The steak was rare and tender and juicy and encrusted with slightly crushed peppercorns, with a savoury side sauce (my father is a fan of "juice" with every meal), steamed vegetables and duchessed potatoes.

Dad was late in from the paddocks and had just showered and was on the phone to mum getting an update, and my pesky baby brother was salivating over the feast, wanting a taste.

Jeanie-marm told him he was not to touch until Dad was at the table and we had said Grace (a natural dictator-mother even at that age).

So he bent down to the place and LICKED THE STEAK.

Ahaha hahaha hahahahaha! He got SMOTE by the crust of black pepper.

Of course, his natural reaction was to pass as much harm as possible to the shrew who devised the instrument of torture.

The shrew who devised the instrument of torture is not the demure lady you see before you today, but a far less evolved survivalist middle child who had to give as good as she got.

Dad's reaction was to upbraid both of us with the "your sister may lose her arm and all you kids can think of is killing each other?" - never one for subtleties, my old man.

By the way, dinner was yum - if not a little fiery - but it remains associated in my mind forever with mosquito-nasties, osteomyelitis, the fury of fathers, teeth-marks and God striking down my brother for tasting before Grace.

Oh - and ps - my sister DID NOT lose her arm. She instead went on to develop other medical complications, extended family members got in on the medical dramatics and it all ended in a forklift delivery to an aeroplane - but that is a different story altogether.

And a NB NB NB big alert - a new commenter came by yesterday and so, as is my wont, I visited his site - may I HIGHLY recommend you all go and visit David also.

I love his writing style and he moved me to laughter and tears on several occasions (I know - not hard to do).


Debby said...

Oooh. So who is going to tell the rest of the dramatic story? You or BB?

PS. I bought a bottle of Bullfrog with mosquito repellent. Okay? Today was a kicker. Usually it's not so bad. 167 mosquitos in one trap alone. I counted them all. The worst part? Before I got them all counted, they were starting to come back to life from their dry-ice coma.By the end, I was counting pretty quickly. But my undies were comfortable, so it was a good day.

Pencil Writer said...

Pepper steak, huh? Down here in Louisiana they do that on purpose to not only steak, but several types of fish, as well and call it . . . BLACKENED steak, fish, or whatever.

My brother-in-law (along with his parents and my husband) were eating out one evening and he, bil, ordered blackened fish or steak, I forget. Anyway, his reaction was similar to your brother's initial reaction. It was difficult for him to eat and enjoy, however.

Sorry to hear about BB's arm trauma, but glad to know she's been recovered for several years now.

Looking forward to many more recitations on rollicking recipe escapades--ancient or modern. You make me laugh! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

oh we have mosquito problems here.... that reminds me I need to blog about them LOL
And yeah I want to know what happened with the forklift!!!???

Crazed Nitwit said...

Hahahaha. Dumb brother. My your family is quite dramatic, isn't it? My blog is now Chasing Life so you might to delete Twist&Skewer. Just a thought.

Jayne said...

Ahhh mozzies are tiny but evilly sinister.
Isn't that the way to have pepper steak...smothered in cracked pepper till it's black? :P

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

LOL - not about the broken arm though I want to hear about the forklift too !

My MIL once made us a special dinner of peppercorn something or other inedible because instead of green peppercorns she used black whole and a little crushed.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

I would also like to know the fork lift story! Licking the pepper steak - fabulous!

Brissiemum2 said...

Ewwwww....licked the steak?! Some people just revert back to basic instincts, don't they? Lol!

jeanie said...

I will have a thumb wrestle with Bush Babe over who will finish that story - I like to leave ends dangling if you don't already know that Debby!

Pencil Writer - I never knew that was what Blackened Fish was!

kate - I look forward to the mossies after we had quite a soaking of late, although hopefully the cold will keep them quiet.

Crazy Mom - I only thought that (in passing) as I posted - put on my to do list.

Jayne - is there any other way?

baby-amore - I too would have done that - the grocery store in our neck of the woods possibly didn't have anything as high falutin' as green peppercorns.

Pig in the Kitchen - thanks for visiting. As I said to Deb, Bush Babe and I will go two out of three on it...

Brissiemum2 - he was 8 and saw a means to an ends.