Summer View: Will’s Bench &Grilling Tips

Grilled Steak

juicy grilled steak

Will’s Bench at Lake Elise in Middlebury, CT  is a wonderful place to sit and watch the world go by. Peaceful and filled with wildlife, the area is perfect for bird watching or fishing for large mouth bass. Dogs sniff the banks and often dive in for a cool swim. I especially love sitting on the bench on a summer morning having coffee with old friends. The kind of friends that are tried and true, have been around through thick and thin and after all these years are still willing to sit in silence and shed a few a tears or laughs recalling the antics of our kids. The morning mist rises off the clear water flecked with lily pads as the warmth of the sun breaks through.

BFF's Bev & Carol

BFF’s Bev & Carol

Friends like Bev and Carol are priceless. Every griever needs at least one Bev or one Carol in their life, but preferably both. They are the kind of selfless people who know how to step outside themselves for the good of another. It comes natural to them. Their simple presence creates a safe and comforting atmosphere that invites the sharing of feelings and healing. So much healing has taken place on this now weathered wooden bench on the edge of a lake–even on the day that bird pooped on my hand.

summer view from the bench

summer view from the bench

Another summer view


IMG_0211Let me know if you ever get to Lake Elise, but until then let’s get grilling. We all love a good steak, so it being summer let’s share a few grilling tips plus a delicious recipe that also includes grilled watermelon. That’s right-grilled watermelon.

  1. Take the chill off your steak by removing it from the fridge 30 minutes before grill time. It will cook more evenly.
  2. Pat the steak dry with paper towels to avoid steaming the meat.
  3. Crank your grill up to HIGH. Lightly grease the grate.
  4. For gorgeous grill marks and delicious caramelized flavor follow the 10-2 rule of grilling (see recipe for explanation).
  5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.


Grilled Steakhouse Rib-Eye & Watermelon Wedge

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ cup blue cheese dressing

4 (1-inch thick) ribeye steaks

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 small, seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into thick wedges

¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

2 green onions, thinly sliced on bias

8 fresh mint or basil leaves, thinly sliced plus additional sprigs for garnish

Heat grill to high. In small saucepan, over high heat, combine, wine, honey and Worcestershire sauce. Bring sauce mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced to a syrupy consistency; set aside. Season steaks on both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place steaks on hot, lightly greased grill rack pointing one edge towards 10:00. Grill 2 to 3 minutes creating well-browned grill marks. Rotate steak so that same edge now points toward 2:00. Grill 2 minutes. Now repeat process on other side of steak. Reduce heat to medium. Grill steaks, 3 to 4 minutes more or until medium-rare (125 degrees on an instant read thermometer). Transfer steaks to plate; cover with foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, season watermelon with salt and pepper; place on lightly greased grill rack for 2 minutes per side or until charred grill marks begin to form. Arrange steaks and watermelon on serving plates. Drizzle dressing over watermelon. Drizzle wine sauce over steaks. Sprinkle with green onions, herbs and blue cheese. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

perfect grill marks following the 10-2 rule

perfect grill marks following the 10-2 rule

What If? & Another Game Day Recipe-NOT Wings

My winning recipe as photographed in Taste of Home Magazine

My winning recipe as photographed in Taste of Home Magazine

What if I had called him that day? What if he had accepted the invitation to visit his aunt, and cousins who were in Wilmington? What if he never elected to his extend his stay in the military? The questions come fast and furious following my son’s death in a car accident. What if it could have been prevented? There will always be more questions than answers and that is what makes the loss and the grief journey so prolonged.

Every griever has their own unique set of questions. Of course the answer I search for is that he would be alive. He’d be home and hanging out like usual. He was supposed to be done with the navy in March 2011. Trust me I tried to convince him to not extend his stay, but he, like always, came up with a good defense. “It’s like this mom. My brothers are going to be deployed one more time and I need to be with them. If anything ever happens to them and I am not there I could never forgive myself.” He makes me so proud to be his mom. And for the friends and brothers who knew him you could not have a more loyal and committed player on your team.

DSCN2396 IMG_0156 Keys and the boys at shirgazay

This Sunday is the Super Bowl. It’s the biggest game day ever for all kinds of chicken wing recipes and Buffalo this or that. But “what if” you arrive at the grocery store to find chicken wings selling for $4.69/pound (highway robbery) versus boneless/skinless chicken thighs and breasts for $1.99/pound? I’ll tell ya in our house we ain’t havin’ no wings—no questions asked.

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Rolls

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves pound to a 1/4-inch thickness

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons blue cheese (or any good melting cheese you like)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1/4 cup red pepper sauce (I like Frank’s Red Hot)

2 cups crushed cornflakes

Heat oven 400F. Lightly grease a foil lined baking sheet. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place 1-tablespoon blue cheese on the center of each chicken breast. Fold in sides and roll chicken around blue cheese. Secure with wooden picks. Mix mayonnaise and red pepper sauce. Brush each chicken roll with mayonnaise mixture and roll in cornflakes to coat. Place chicken rolls on prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

Remove wooden picks before serving

Make Merry & Bright & Balanced

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

Time to put up the tree and holiday lights. This year I picked out the tree in literally 2 minutes because it was too darn cold and slippery to walk the farm. My one and only was quite grateful for my quick choice and chopped it down before I could change my mind. We missed having William to man the saw and grateful for Caitlin coming by to help decorate. Only those tiny white lights will do and I love how the tinsel sparkles in reflection.

In reflection there is nothing that lights up my life more than the smiles on my children’s faces during the holidays. Like my father I am always happiest when my children are around. In fact, I feel most in balance when I am sandwiched right between them. Like the sweet vanilla cream between those crispy chocolate cookies-perfectly balanced, centered, calm, merry and bright.

Christmas 2010 Merry and Bright

Christmas 2010 Merry and Bright

Now imagine for a moment how one feels when one of those bright lights is suddenly snuffed out. The entire strand dims and the sparkle disappears. Losing a child turns all is calm to all is upside down and inside out. It’s chaotic night instead of silent night. There is no rest ye merry gentlemen, but plenty of dismay.

Fatigue is not a friend of the grief-stricken. It disrupts the balance of our being and plays havoc with our coping skills. Lack of sleep, restless sleep and insomnia causes a tipping of the scale with one teetering on the edge. Do whatever it takes to get a good night’s sleep. Peaceful sleep is crucial for getting through each and every day. In the long run, it is essential to getting your sparkle and your balance back.

When it comes to recipes balancing your taste buds is crucial. The most delicious dishes have a balance of salty, sweet, bitter and sour in the ingredient list. There is also a 5th taste known as umami which has to do with the savoryness or meatyness of the dish. I also add the 6th sense which has to do with the love one puts into their food. Food from the heart is inspired and has a certain sparkle. With just one bite all is merry and bright with the world.

This is my grand prize winning dish from the Beringer Wine Great Steak Challenge. It’s perfect for the holidays as either a main dish or an appetizer. It’s perfectly balanced flavors are incredibly affordable and will add a certain sparkle to your festive buffet.

Boston Style Steak & Wine Wraps

1 cup Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Shiraz

1 cup beef broth

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

2 tablespoons molasses

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, about ¾-inch thick

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

18 cup-shaped leaves of Boston lettuce

½ cup sliced green onions

¼ cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Heat covered gas grill to high. In a medium skillet, bring wine, broth, cranberries and molasses to a boil. Boil sauce, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 22 minutes or until reduced and slightly syrupy; set aside. Meanwhile, season steak on both sides with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Place steak on hot, lightly greased grill rack. Grill steak 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Turn, and grill other side for 2 to 3 minutes or until well browned. Reduce gas grill temperature to medium. Grill steak 7 to 9 minutes or until medium-rare (125 degrees on an instant read thermometer). Transfer steak to a cutting surface; let rest for 5 to10 minutes.  Thinly slice steak across the grain.  Arrange lettuce cups on a large platter. Fill lettuce cups with steak. Top steak with cranberry-wine sauce, a sprinkle of green onions and cheese. Serves 6 Serve with Beringer’s Founders’ Estate Shiraz.