Skirt Steak Tacos

September 23, 2012

 

 

The summer between my fourth and fifth grade year, some weird magic took place. Maybe the plates in the ground shifted or some strange wind blew through my neighborhood or bits of wonky fairy dust fell from the sky. What happened that summer remains a mystery to this day. I like to think of it as something out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, some sort of technicolor blending of the chimerical and the real, but in truth, I know it was nothing that grand.

All I can tell you is this: that summer, I left one world and entered a new one altogether.

Former World: Awkward

New World: Painfully, Mind-Numbingly Awkward.

I console myself with the fact that I never was a shiny, beautiful butterfly of a child, so at least I never had to fall, from huge heights, into awkwardness. Awkward was always in the vicinity, sniffing around my ankles. After all, I was the girl given the childhood moniker ”flamingo legs.”

I also had hair like duck fuzz and a nose that grew up well before I did.

So perhaps I didn’t plummet into the Age of Awkward–more like stumble in. It wasn’t pretty. It began with the boobage, as most journeys into Awkward do, if you are a girl. You wake up one morning, ready to face the day, and Bam! Boobage. It’s like you suddenly have a third foot or something. It’s just there now, a part of you.

I blasted into boobage so fast that it looked like I’d been mauled by a tiger–the streaks on my new (lumpy) territory were alarming. They also radiated a weird heat; I felt like everyone could see what was going on underneath my polo shirt, like I was shooting some sort of pubescent laser out of them.

My legs cramped up in the night because they, too, were growing like gangbusters. I’d wake up abruptly, howl into the dark, and Mama would dole out Tylenol and rub them down with Icy Hot as I sniffled into a Kleenex.

I didn’t know what was going on underneath my arms, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know, but I sneaked my sister’s razor out of the bathroom and whacked at the foliage with abandon.

What I most remember about that summer is that my body was going haywire, but emotionally, I was still just a ten-year old girl. I cared nothing about boys. I wanted to swim and dive and lose myself in blue chlorine, and play kick-the-can when the sun went down with the ragtag kids at the end of the street.

Every day that summer, my true-blue friend Julie and I walked the few blocks to the pool and spent the entire day there, which was lovely but a little fraught with anxiety when you have emerging boobage, which Julie hadn’t gotten yet.

My solution? Get in the pool and never get out. Julie was stupefied. “Dane? Are you ever going to get out of there? Don’t you just want to sit in the sun for a while?”

No, I didn’t. The 15-minute adult swim at 3:00 was torture enough; I’d get forced out of the pool and hide in my towel, shivering next to Julie, and distract myself with the vending machine goodies. That was the summer of sourballs and sunflower seeds and Paydays.

Julie, bless her, never said anything about the changes that were so obvious to me. To her, I was just her friend, and she still has one of the purest hearts I’ve ever known. Thank you, Julie Nicodemus, for weathering me through.

What I am clumsily getting around to is how all of this growing and changing and awkwardness led to the Summer of Linebacker Appetite. I was horrifically ravenous all day, every day. My swimming habits only added fuel to the fire and I remember my sister watching, thunderstruck, as I consumed an entire jar of Planter’s dry roasted peanuts one evening. (note to readers: I do not recommend this practice. My tongue cracked completely open after that salty little escapade.)

That summer, I’d return home from my day at the pool and attack the evening meal like a wolverine. I didn’t turn down any meal (except for Shipwreck Casserole, of course) but if I saw tacos on that dinner table, I’d be blissed out. Taco night will forever rock, in my opinion. If my mother was particularly generous, she’d include Chile con Queso on the menu, and that was a treat.

The Chile con Queso of my youth is, admittedly, white-trash food. No denying it. I mean, it’s got Velveeta cheese product in it–enough said. But heavens, it is melty and lovely and I’d pour it all over my plate and snarf away.

Now that I don’t swim for six hours a day and do not experience manic growth spurts, I don’t eat that concoction anymore. Okay, maybe once a year, during the Super Bowl. When it’s the Super Bowl, the ass makes exceptions.

I still love taco night, and we have it often at Chez T. It’s different than the taco nights of my youth, though. We rarely eat the hard-shell variety, opting for warm corn tortillas instead. Rather than ground beef, we’ve upgraded to marinated chicken, pork or steak. And no *sob* Velveeta slop to drizzle over the entire business.

It’s okay. A girl has to grow up sometime.

In fact, I’m so grown up that I’m now watching my own child, Miss D., at ten years old, make her foray into the Age of Awkward. Readers, I think this is doubly painful, because I have to bear witness. Watching her navigate the landmines of puberty makes my throat close and my heart plummet directly into my bowels. Because oh, do I remember.

There’s some rough territory ahead.

Maybe I should break out the Chile con Queso, just for Miss D.?

Personally, I’ll stick with these skirt steak tacos, which are delicious and certainly a fresher, healthier choice. Whichever way you choose to go, you’ll be a rock-star with your family. Because no matter the age (or the road ahead), taco night is a reason to smile.

 

Skirt Steak Tacos

serves 4

1 1/4 pounds skirt steak (sometimes called flat-iron steak)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

2 minced cloves garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 chopped jalapeno pepper, if desired or 2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chile in adobo, if desired

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

corn tortillas, warmed

any toppings that suit you, such as avocado/guacamole, salsa/tomato, shredded lettuce/cabbage, lime wedges, sour cream

 

In a large zip-top plastic bag, combine steak, olive oil, worchestershire sauce, garlic, cumin, chili powder, jalapeno/chipotle (if using), salt and pepper. Marinate at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.

20 minutes before grilling, take steak out of the refrigerator.

Oil grates of grill and heat to medium high. Pat steak dry with paper towels. Grill steak, with the lid closed as much as possible, flipping once, about 10 minutes total for medium rare. Remove steak to a plate and tent with aluminum foil. Let steak rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice steak thinly against the grain.

Serve with assorted toppings and warm tortillas.

 

*I’m including the Chile Con Queso recipe, just for grins. You know you want it.*

 

Chile Con Queso for Awkward Emergencies

 

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 large can (15-ounces) Ro-Tel tomatoes and chiles (I like the extra spicy kind, but get any kind you like)

1 small can mild green chiles

2 lb. block of Velveeta cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes

 

In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in a little oil until soft. Add drained chiles and Ro-tel tomatoes. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the mixture isn’t runny. Add the cheese cubes and reduce the heat to low. Stir constantly until mixture is melted and gooey.

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

naptimewriting September 23, 2012 at 10:02 am

Honey. You can’t have green-blob studded pink meat tacos in honor of puberty. The visual is just terrifying to any woman, esp. a newly genitally aware woman.

Love you and wishing you both grace during the awkward years.

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TKW September 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Nap,

Well, grace is already out of the picture, since I botched the “menstruation talk.”

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Ayala September 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm

An awesome post, I smiled painfully . The age awkward, not an easy journey. I hope your little one has an easier time since you are there to guide her and to let her know that this too shall pass. You have turned up into a beauty inside and out. :)

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TKW September 23, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Ayala,

What a nice thing to say. Most days, I still feel like a ragtag collection of stray nasty bits. :)

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Jamie September 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Your description of what it’s like to get boobs is PERFECT and HILARIOUS! My elementary school best friend must have sprouted them the way you did, because I remember us sitting around having lengthy discussions about wtf those protrusions were and how the heck we could conceal them.

I, on the other hand, prayed through all 60 minutes of church from ages 4-14 that I would have big boobs. They never came until I started birth control, then I got D’s over night. Thank you, Jesus! Turns out he approves of pre-marital sex after all.

I think I just over-shared. And offended religious people everywhere. Whoops!

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TKW September 23, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Jamie,

You are awesome.

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Jane September 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

You had me cringing and squirming all over again -remembering my painful years and my daughter’s painful years and now, my boys’ painful years to come. But with a tasty treat at the end? You’re forgiven. ;)

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gew September 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Thanks for this recipe, Kitch! I love skirt steak and am always interesting in ways to use it. I’ve made it with tacos, but I didn’t know how best to cook it, so this is awesome! (Tiger clawed boobage–not so awesome. I wouldn’t know anything about that b/c I never got boobs–except when I was pregnant and nursing. Which is actually, I guess, so of similar, but not as scary.)

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Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 24, 2012 at 4:35 am

Ah yes, that first akward moment when you are the only 11 year old girl who has to stay behind when the others kids go swimming because of ‘hygenic reasons’ (no shit that was what my mom wrote on the permission slip. My – male – teacher thought I had a foot fungus or something like it).
I also recommend stocking up on chocolate and ice cream. Better yet, chocolate icecream…

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Arnebya September 24, 2012 at 6:36 am

Oh, boy. I am watching with horror my middle girl navigate these waters of body changes. She is built most like me and I am afraid for her, afraid of the heartache she may endure if she goes down the same “started to develop them just stopped” road. It is heartbreaking. It is sad. It is scary. It is reminding me of Charles MacIntosh and sixth grade and there is nothing I want for her less than the scarring words of a mean boy she thought liked her.

I am still waiting for the boobs I cried nightly for. I am not concerned for the oldest girl as she, at 11, has surprised all boobness I have ever had outside of pregnancy. Yes, my 11 yr old has more tit than me who is sporting a -34AAAA and sometimes I want to fling her own bra into her face like a slingshot. Wait, that’s wrong (to type out, huh?). I just…I just want some. And I know in my heart that if my middle girl doesn’t continue to develop, she will be 38 like me still wishing there was a way to get them without surgery.

We had tacos for lunch yesterday because they are her favorite (and because they’ve been on the menu for over a month and something else keeps pushing it off that Friday). She is still a hard shell girl while the rest of us like a soft tortilla (except the boy; he’ll eat either).

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 9:04 am

Arnebya,

I guess it’s just tough no matter what, boobs or no boobs. Sigh.

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Mary Lee September 24, 2012 at 7:01 am

I wonder if ANYONE escapes that phase unscathed.

When I was in the 4th grade, Betty Faulkner wore sleeveless blouses which revealed bra straps and fuzz under her arms. Oh, how I wanted those bra straps! I went through braces and glasses before I ever had a bra and even then it was a pity bra, for there was nothing to train. My own mother called me Knobby Knees and was forever trying to tamp down my cowlicks. Let’s just say I was a very late bloomer.

While I’m sure that Miss D will have all the emotional issues that comes with puberty , that child is gorgeous and kind and smart. At least she’ll face it with ammunition.

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 9:05 am

Mary Lee,

What kind words. At least the braces came off this summer, eh?

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Kate September 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

I was in junior high when those dang hypercolor shirts were in. Who thought wearing something that highlights those newly hot lumps was a good idea? ?!?!?

I think it was when I turned 11 that my body gained weight. The suddenly bulky me was so unsure of how this new body worked. Awful times. I do not look forward to seeing my kids go through that.

I think it was right around that age I went in a obscene orange kick. I’d eat 4-6 every day.

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 9:06 am

Kate,

Oranges are definitely a better choice than an entire container of Planter’s peanuts.

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Patty September 24, 2012 at 9:00 am

I think it will be very fun for you to watch how much and what Miss D starts to consume. There was one time, after a day of double soccer matches and bike riding and littlest petshop playing, that my daughter sat down to dinner and ate at lease 2 lbs of roast beef, with mashed potatoes and salad, and then put her head down like a puppy and licked the gravy from her plate. We were all so surprised (her brothers too) that we burst out laughing. Funny for us; awkward for her! But now its one of our family stories.

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 9:07 am

Patty,

That’s some meal! This morning, Miss D. ate a banana, a yogurt, 2 pieces of french toast and 4 strips of bacon. *eek!*

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Camille Brightsmith September 24, 2012 at 9:31 am

This isn’t going to happen to my children…they are going to be six forever right? Both of them are having growing pains now though, and cry out in the night and need their little legs rubbed. But they are sweet and adorable and perfect and I am terrified that they are going to grow up. This isn’t very healthy is it?

I loved this and feel for you! Especially because that child is so stunningly pretty. Scary. But its going to be ok! Cause she is AWESOME and has the best Mommy in the world.

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Jenna September 24, 2012 at 9:42 am

You won’t find me dissing Chile con Queso! I have made it for a couple parties and it’s just so good that the less-than-”gourmet”-factor doesn’t even bother me.
And speaking as someone who never got the boobage of the other girls, that was also painful–watching my flat chest continue on its flat course as other girls got nice and round. I’m so glad I never have to live that part of my life again!

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Caitlin September 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm

i’m also a fan of the chili con queso! if the girls follow any of my life events, that recipe will be brought out again during the college years! tehe. ;)

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idiosyncratic eye September 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

Mmm, I think Mexican has got to be my favourite. I wish we could get corn tortillas though. That sounds like one heck of a summer, ‘cheesy’ cheese has got to be allowed! :)

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Kristen @ Motherese September 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

This is such a terrific, classically TKW post. Even though I still have a hard time imagining you as ever being awkward, I know the sneaky and scary things that come with being a newly pubescent girl.

I had those killer leg cramps too. I remember waking up in the middle of the night feeling like someone was trying to hammer nails into my calves. Good times.

Wish I could have come hang out at the pool with you and Julie. And I hope Miss D. has a Julie too. xo

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Biz September 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Yep, 10 was a rough year for me and my twin sister too. We were tall 5.3″ in comparison to all our friends, and our last name was Hills, and the boys used to tell us that they loved our “mountains.”

We never grew after age 10, and by the time high school rolled around, everyone was heads and shoulders taller than us!

Yep, I think Miss D. needs some queso! :D

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Sherri September 24, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I am through the awk years with my oldest (who is 16 – yikes), but… still have a ways to go with the little ones. Sympathies and lots of hugs and chocolate for Miss D, who….. may do OK, ya know? I, like you, did very much have those years – looked like a boy for a long time… then…. the boobage that came on way too fast – braces, big hair…. Oh, I do know you have the picture. Anyway…. tacos look yummy. Life with girls, eh?

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Jennifer September 24, 2012 at 1:49 pm

My family LOVES taco night, but I must confess we still do the ground beef and lots of cheddar cheese variety. I’m not sure if the little ones would rebel if we served this, but I know I would love it.

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pamela September 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Oh this looks great. Going to make a veggie version:) (sin. I know.)

I think I love your writing best. It always soothes me and opens my heart.

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Pamela,

I’m glad it opens yours, because mine is clenched.xo

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Tiffany September 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Oh Puberty you mean little bitch. Gah. It is no fun watching the little ones muddle through it either. If it makes you feel better, it’s just as rough on the boys.

And I love that you needed a salt-lick even way back then. ;)

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TKW September 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Tiff,
I knew you would understand.

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Dana September 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Dear Mrs “Flamingo Legs,”

Not that many years ago, in a time when I would feel safe saying I had finally gotten past the awkward years, a family member pointed out to me, “Dana, you walk like a baby deer. There are just skinny too long legs steering at all kinds of weird angles.”
Thanks, I thought I might have grown out of that, apparently no. But darn if being leggy doesn’t make you look marvellous in a pair of heels.

Love,
Baby deer legs

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TKW September 28, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Dana,

From one skinny legged-girl to another, thank you.

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faemom October 2, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Thank you! I bought a skirt steak and had no idea what to do with it.

I too was always awkward. My dad called me spaghetti hair. And I was a klutz. My awkward summer was spread across two summers and then some. Just after 6th grade until the beginning of 8th. My poor mother couldn’t keep any food in the house from then on with one kid hitting puberty or carb loading.

And I heart junky nachos!

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