In which my Valentines Day dinner is almost ruined, but then surprisingly I end up with a perfectly done steak

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided to cook myself a really tasty dinner. So I go to the grocery store and get all the ingredients: mushrooms, asparagus, yukon gold potatoes (for mashed potatoes), and a really nice looking filet.

I come home, and I start the water for the potatoes first. When it gets boiling, I drop the chunks of potato in. Meanwhile, I slice up the mushrooms and cook them in some of the red wine i’m having with my steak. When the wine reduces down all the way, I add a couple splashes of worcestershire sauce (I made this up on the spot, and it ended up pretty tasty. I liked the balance of sweet from the wine and tangy from the worcestershire). Also meanwhile, i’ve turned the oven on broil and am heating up my cast-iron skillet. I’d just read how to oven-cook a perfect steak, and I thought I’d try it (never cooked a steak in the oven before).

Up until this point, dinner preparations have been going very well. But here’s where the interesting part of the evening begins. After the mushrooms were done, I set those aside & halved the asparagus and dumped them in the same cooking pan. Then I got the skillet out of the oven to sear the steak on the stovetop before it actually went in the oven to cook. I’d rubbed my steak with a bit of oil, salt & pepper, so when I plopped it into the skillet, it almost immediately started smoking. A lot. I’d nearly finished searing one side before the smoke alarm went off.

I flipped the steak over to sear the other side before going to deal with the smoke alarm. Now, the important thing to know about my apartment is that it has really high ceilings. I mean, I’m not the tallest person ever, but neither am I super short, either, and I have to get a chair and stand on my tip-top-tippy-toes and I can *just* reach the button to hush the alarm. Which, in a genius move by the apartment builders, is right next to the kitchen. It won’t shut off. I’m mashing the buttons as hard as I can, until I can’t stay up on my toes any longer, and it still won’t shut off. This may have had to do with the fact that my kitchen was now filled with smoke.

I’m now worried that i’ll have one burnt side of a steak if I let it sear any more, so I transfer it to the oven. And also take the asparagus completely off, so as to not ruin those either. Now the way i’m describing it, you may think that I’ve been completely calm, which is not the case AT ALL. I am now entering panic mode. I’m frustrated that this stupid alarm will not SHUT UP, and i’m pretty upset that my dinner might be ruined. I open the door to my porch in the hopes that the smoke will dissipate, and drag my kitchen table over underneath the alarm and continue to mash buttons/beat the smoke alarm. It refuses to yield. Time is meaningless now; I have no idea how long my steak has been in the oven. I’m in tears, despairing that i’ll have no dinner, and absolutely sure that the fire department will show up any minute now (and wouldn’t that be embarassing). Nothing’s working — I’ve completely unplugged the alarm from the ceiling, taken out the battery, but this does nothing to shut up the second black box alarm in my bedroom that has no buttons at all.

Finally, I suppose on no account of my own & just because enough of the smoke has gone out the open door, the alarm shuts off and i’m able to take the steak out of the oven. I’m fully expecting it to look like a charred brick, but it doesn’t, so I optimistically pull it off onto my plate to let it rest for a bit. I assemble the rest of my dinner and then cut into the steak and it’s a perfect medium. I’m just glad that I was able to get a satisfactory dinner out of the most stressful cooking experience ever. (Why is it that I have so many ‘most stressful cooking experience ever’s? 🙂

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