Lots more households today are headed by one or two working adults than there used to be. When I was growing up, most of my friends came from families just like mine. Dad went to work every day outside the home; mom stayed home, kept the house and took care of the children; and the kids went to school from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. when they were old enough.
Some, like me, walked home for lunch or packed a homemade sandwich and maybe soup in a thermos. Mom was there to have lunch with the kids. She was there after school to make a snack or maybe she’d baked cookies that were still a little warm after school.
Those were good times. “Happy Days” live. Dinner was on time in the evening a little while after dad got home, because someone (mom) had been home to cook and make it happen. Fewer homes all the time run that way now. We often eat on the fly, whether the food comes from a fast-food restaurant, pizza delivery, or neighborhood diner.
I pick up dinner after work once or twice a week like a lot of others. I may be the last of the culinary dinosaurs, but most nights I still cook dinner at home. There are lots of tricks I use to be able to do that. My crockpot gets a fair amount of use. I cook in large batches and freeze food in containers that feed three to four and I use recipes with few ingredients that produce meals within an hour of the time I walk in the door.
I doubt there are many others that make better use of a rotisserie chicken than I do. I know which cuts of meat cook quickly and produce a fork-tender entree. Leftovers are kitchen gold treated the right way. Decades after I became a home cook, I still enjoy the challenge of putting a good meal on the table at the end of a long day.
Cube steaks make an appearance in the grocery stores about this time every year. I’m always glad to see them. They’re lean, taste good and are priced reasonably to feed a family. Use some in this recipe. Pair them with mashed potatoes, some chunky applesauce and a green salad for a delicious, quick entree. Forty-five minutes is all the time it takes to put dinner on the table.
4 cubed steaks (about 6 ounces each)
3/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup diced canned tomatoes, undrained
Place flour in a dinner-size plate. Sprinkle garlic salt and tarragon over one side of each of the four steaks. Place one steak at a time, seasoned side down, in flour. Season second side of steak and turn over to coat completely with flour. Set aside.
Place oil and butter in a large skillet. Heat until butter starts to sizzle. Add two steaks at a time and fry over medium-low heat until browned; turn and repeat.
Remove steaks from pan. Add flour to remaining oil and butter to make a roux. Add chicken broth and tomatoes and stir until thickened. (Add more broth if necessary.)
Replace steaks in gravy; cover and simmer 20-30 minutes over low heat until tender, turning once.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.