When I was a little girl I used to go to work with my dad when my parents’ schedules overlapped. I can remember trying to be very quiet in a small unoccupied blue cubicle with my crayons while my dad finished up in other parts of his office. There was a vending machine outside the back door that dispensed glass bottles of ice-cold Coca Cola, and if I was really good I could get one before we went home.
Sometimes my dad and I would go for walks in the small but fast-growing city we’d transplanted to. There were a few tall buildings, bordered by perfectly manicured trees and water fountains. Traffic, noise and sunshine dancing through the tree limbs making patterns on the sidewalk kept my senses stimulated as we walked along hand in hand. One building in particular was white and had vertical black stripes that ran the length of it, stopping just below the second floor.
At six feet and five inches tall, I always thought my dad was a giant. To me he seemed like the tallest man in the whole wide world. When he picked me up to carry me once my little girl legs had tired out I always felt like I was flying through the air, floating above the crowds. I was convinced that my dad could reach the stripes on that building, and I managed to persuade him to walk two blocks out of the way just to try it.
He set me down on the sidewalk and reached as high as he could… but he couldn’t reach the stripe. I am not one to give up easily, so I talked him into trying to touch a different stripe. Dad obliged. Since the stripes were probably a good twenty feet off the ground, my dad had to know he was not going to be able to reach. But he continued to humor me. Perspective is a little off when you’re five. Finally he perched me up on his shoulders, leaned against the sun-baked white concrete of the building, and told me to reach as high as a could.
I was so close.
My mom worked at night so Dad and I usually did our own thing when dinnertime rolled around. He could boil hot dogs. And make peanut butter toast. I think that’s where his culinary skills stopped, though. So usually we went out to eat. Dad and I ate lotsa junk. Hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza… all that stuff is really awesome when you’re small. Once in awhile he would take me out for mint chocolate chip ice cream. His favorite was butter pecan.
A few times a year we would drive back home to Belleville, Illinois and visit family. My dad’s brother lived across the river in a suburb of St. Louis. We would get in the car, just me and my dad, and drive over the Mississippi. It was so cool. Even after I turned six and had a little sister, or when I was eight and had a little brother, too, or when I had another little sister at ten, we would still have our day out – just me and my dad.
He took me to lunch at the Zodiac, a restaurant tucked into the upper level of Neiman Marcus where we always went to shop for my mom. They serve popovers with strawberry butter. Dad always ordered steak.
My dad appreciated a good meal. I think he’d be satisfied with this black and bleu salad. A bed of crispy romaine lettuce tossed in homemade caesar dressing and then dolled up with sliced roma tomatoes and crumbled bleu cheese. A spicy steak grilled to a perfect medium-rare, sliced and placed on top and then sprinkled with a few homemade whole wheat croutons and a smidge of parmesan…
Black & Bleu Salad
8 ounces of steak per person (I used thin-cut ribeyes)
crumbled bleu cheese
caesar dressing (I use THIS RECIPE for caesar dressing from Creative Noshing – it’s simple, I always have the ingredients on hand, and it is awesome.)
croutons (Creative Noshing’s homemade croutons are simple and tasty, too)
Liberally season the steak with the spicy seasoning on both sides. Place the steaks in a shallow dish and pour in worcestershire sauce, just enough to coat each piece. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Wash the romaine and cut into 2 inch pieces. Slice the tomatoes. Toss the romaine in the caesar dressing – not too much – just let it lightly coat each piece of lettuce. Portion the dressed romaine onto plates. Top with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle each salad with the crumbled bleu cheese. Grill the steaks to your preferred doneness (our steaks were very thin and we prefer them medium rare, so only a minute or two on each side using a very hot grill was plenty). Let the steaks rest for just a minute before slicing. Slice them into strips and then toss a few croutons and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese onto each salad.