They're venison cube steaks so that's my husband's influence, of course in that he brought home the deer and I had never cooked cube steak until I cooked the deer ones so I had no idea how to do it. I asked Billy to ask MawMaw how she did it because he always bragged on her cubed steak- beef, not venison, but still.
Turns out you have to soak the meat in Pet Milk before you cook it and although I don't use Pet Milk, just regular milk, I soak it. I also add Worcestershire sauce to the milk, not too much, just some, and garlic salt too. Then, I do like MawMaw says and dip that meat in some flour with salt and pepper and although MawMaw sort of deep fries hers, I just brown mine in the skillet with some olive oil and then put the pieces in a baking dish and let them rest there while I cut up onions or leeks and mushrooms, mostly, usually, portobello mushrooms and saute them in the same skillet I did the meat in. When they're tender, I put them over the patiently-waiting meat and then I make a gravy of sorts. I use olive oil and whatever flour I had left from the breading of the steaks and the leftover milk and Worcestershire marinade and more black pepper and I make that according to how I learned to make a white sauce from a cookbook I grew up with and still have a copy of which is so old that the pictures in it are hand-tinted and I cherish it.
I add some soy sauce which I learned from a Farm Vegetarian back in the day, y'all, on a hill in Tennessee on a meatless Thanksgiving Day, one of the coldest days I remember in my life, and I remember the woman telling me that she'd put her soy sauce gravy up against her mama's chicken gravy any day and I think she was right.
I put that gravy over the meat and onions and mushrooms and I put a lid on it and I bake it in the oven.
It's real good.
So there's my husband in there and my childhood cookbook and that Farm Vegetarian and her chicken-gravy-making mama too. And Maw Maw and Billy, of course. And probably Granny Matthews whom I really learned to cook from, watching her walk around the kitchen wearing a nylon negligee grabbing a little of this and crushing it up and stirring in a little of that and tasting it all and putting a lid on it and letting it simmer.
I've got potatoes and garlic bubbling away together in salty water and I'll smash them up with some milk and a little sour cream for mashed potatoes and I'm warming up some okra and tomatoes I made a few days ago and that'll be supper. It'll be good.
I'm thinking about my mother tonight and how she got dinner on the table every night and how it wasn't ever really delicious but it was okay and we grew up fine on what she cooked, even if the meatloaf had suspicious alphabet noodles in it and I wonder what it was that my mother did for a creative outlet and I do not know. Which makes me as sad as anything. I am remembering the day she discovered frozen loaves of white bread in the grocery store and how when she brought them home and thawed them and let them rise and baked them something happened in my brain and I suddenly understood that bread did not necessarily come from The Sunbeam Bread Girl.
I don't even know how it all happened. I just know it did.
Clean as you go. That's my advice. Don't worry overmuch about seasoning your cast iron. Just use it. It'll last forever.
It's been a real slow day but we're going to eat well tonight.
I hope the same for you.