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The tone of discourse has been getting pretty nasty even after Obama and Clinton have apparently made peace.

I don't want war. Peace is far more preferable. To those I insulted accept this as an offering, a handshake, a smile, an apology.

So now for something completely different, I have included a piece offering for all concerned - cooking instructions intended to put smiles on our faces. I wrote this a couple of years ago and it seems like a good time to whip it up.

Please enjoy, and do as I don't say. or was that do as I say?

Agnostic’s Rules For Beef Jerky

For sports fans, the approach of end of the football season means good food. Last weekend’s stadiums are filled with culinary delights. Still, it is hard to argue with food cooked just outside of the stadium. Somehow it tastes even better, even if your vehicle has no tail to gate. Spending time with good friends, inspecting the bottoms of bottles and slaving over hot coals makes everything tastier, even if the raw centers of parking lot burgers make you sick at halftime.

It is a well-known tailgating rule that hotdogs which fall off of your grill remain edible so long as they don’t lay on the road for longer than one standard TV ad, unless they get smashed by a passing SUV or pre-inebriated fan just before retrieval.

There is a third alternative, the only one available to the vast majority of sports fans – your famous home cooked meal. Here is how to make that perfect meal for your best friends and family.

High quality raw materials are incredibly important.  Keep that in mind when you make your shopping list. The better the ingredients, the better your result will be. So, don’t delay, and head straight for the beer department of your friendly neighborhood grocer.  Take your time, choose carefully, and shop smart. Do the large Sapporos really taste that good to the bitter end? Can you really deal with six-packs of Guinness? And what if you fill up too quickly on an imported pale ale? Now that the most important job is done, you may as well look at the rest of the list.

Find the highest quality, nicely marbled, top-of-the-line, extra-large beef loin from your friendly grocer’s fridge. You know, the kind that attracts your eyes, entices your belly and lightens your pocket book. Eye it carefully. Poke at it gently through the plastic. Try to smell it through the wrap. Why? Who knows? Just try to look professional and pretend that you know what you are doing.

Once home, set your oven to 450 F. or higher.  (Secret cooking tip: the higher the temps, the faster it cooks) Open beer.

Chop the onions, peppers, celery, garlic and chives. Grab a band-aid. Grab more beer for medicinal purposes.  

Look at your loin. Start a fruitless search for a cookbook, then open new beer. Grab the nearest bottle from the bottom shelf. If looks at all like Soy Sauce, Corn Oil, Worcester Sauce or Kayo Syrup, don’t worry. Any one of them will do just find. Just slather it on the meat. However, if it looks like beer, sip carefully.  Heck, if your beer got too warm you can use that, too.

Recall the best tasting loin you once had?  To make it even better, spread a thick layer of pepper and salt over the entire surface of loin. A half-inch of each ought to do it. Place your perfect loin in oven. Open beer. Increase the temps in stove so your perfect loin cooks even faster. Consider upgrading stove to hotter model. Fondly recall 11 out of 10 from Spinal Tap.  

Begin a fruitless search for potatoes. Check the freezer a third time. Scratch head while staring at empty fridge. Replace band-aid. Turn up heat to maximum.

Drive back to the grocer to pick up more beer (Medicinal purposes) and missing potatoes. On your return back from store, make U-turn and this time really pick up potatoes. Recall the Bears schedule. Turn on radio pre-game coverage in car. Speed home before beer warms up. Test new purchases for quality control.

Peel potatoes. Open beer, after attaching third and fourth band-aids and re-attaching #1 & 2.  Answer phone call from Honey. Assure her you are handling today’s meal. Act upset and shocked at the gurgling sound coming from the phone. Hang up. Open beer. Wipe blood off potatoes with dirty dish-rag so as not to stain them.

Call best friend and debate disturbing lack of offensive line and the need for a tight end with two functioning hands. Stare at multiple bandages on fingers.

Open beer.

Invite best friend and his spousette for wonderful, perfect loin dinner you will create. Hang up abruptly after former best friend inquires who is cooking, who then starts laughing hysterically after hearing your response. Open beer. Make promise to self to shoot former best friend whenever the opportunity arises. Make note to buy gun.

Put pot on stove. Add handful or so of salt. Add six peeled potatoes. Add cup or so of water. Grab beer. Decide salad will be nice touch. Shred bare, unwashed lettuce head with bare, unwashed hands. Place shred in bowl. Add onions, chives and celery. Mix by hand. Replace all missing band-aids. Fruitlessly searching for missing band-aids in salad. Shrug shoulders and open beer.

Search for eating oil. Grab beer. Watch kick-off fumbled by top Bears draft choice. Swear at resulting TD. Replace empty beer.

Find sesame oil and extremely fancy bottle of balsamic vinegar. Empty each onto salad and veggies. Realize you forgot to mix or shake the fluids before pouring.

Grab beer. Think. Open unopened beer in hand. Watch end of first quarter, expressing relief that the Bears are only down by 14.

Remove lid off of boiling potatoes’ pot, place hot top over salad bowl. Swear loudly over burned hands. Grab new cold beer for medicinal purposes. Apply generously to internal organs.

Try to shake salad bowl so oil and vinegar mix. Drop burning hot pot lid off salad bowl. Watch as salad, veggies, oil, and vinegar fly out of bowl and separate all over kitchen floor. Swear again.

Miss 48 yard field goal by Bears after recovery of fumble. Replace all salad back into bowl. Wash kitchen floor for first time in history of American male sports fans. Swear off salads for the meal tonight. Check multiple band-aides.

Grab beer. Watch incredible Bears TD at the end of 1st half. Call former best friend again. Agree they are looking good. Friend agrees to come over for correction of dangerously low blood-alcohol levels. Plus, he offers to bring more beer. Immediately forgive all of his transgressions and previous bad behavior when he appears at doorstep holding a chilled case of nice imported brand as peace offering. Accept offering graciously as good host.

At end of third quarter, realize that boiled potatoes should not smell as though they were fried. Rush to kitchen, burn other parts of hands while trying to remove smoking blackened potato pot off the top of the stove. Grab coldest beer for medicinal purposes. Turn off stove-top burner. Go back and watch fourth quarter.

Watch Bears break the hearts of thousands with really inept couching decision in final five minutes of the second overtime. Demand the coach's head on platter. Think platter. Scratch head and think. Naw, it probably wasn’t important.

Start watching second game, this time with the hated Green Bay Packers. After more beer, try to remember why the word "platter" is still bouncing around inside your skull.

Finally, thinking of "platter" reminds you of loin in oven. Rush back to kitchen. Open now smoking oven and observe small, blackened, tough, shoe-like leathery substance that seems to have mysteriously teleported into your oven and traded places with your perfect loin. Remove small, blackened, tough, shoe-like substance from oven. Burn both hands again. Swear appropriately. Grab more liquid pain medicine. Apply internally.

Bend fork in meat. Bend meat thermometer in meat while testing for done-ness. Grab beer. Think. Go to garage and grab appropriate tool. Wash off the axe with dishwashing soap, then attempt to chop meat into small pieces on formerly perfect wood block table in kitchen. Remind self to sharpen axe before next use.

Greet Honey at door with hugs and kisses.

"No, Honey, I have not been drinking all day. I've been cooking. Seriously."

Look shocked at Honey’s expression of horror as she rushes to kitchen. By now, the smoke and fumes have mostly departed through open kitchen window during dead of winter. Act shocked when Honey uses language more fit for British sailors fighting in 1840s war with France. Grab beer to drown your sorrows. Pout carefully.

Ask Honey that next time you want to make jerky, would Honey please help?

Honey asks, what happened to your perfect beef loin idea?

You say, "What beef loin idea?" Insist that you had always planned on making jerky, using your best straight poker face.

Growl at your former best friend, who is currently rolling on the floor, listening to your exchange with Honey. Reluctantly allow your former friend to use your phone to call his spousette so she may join in all the fun.

After call, growl again at soon to be bex-est friend and soon-to-be ex-wife continue to roll on floor together in hysterical laughter. Consider (privately) calling paramedics after you have finished throttling them.

Sit quietly, but proudly, with practiced, stoic expression as former best friend’s spousette enters your castle, only to see her listen to  soon-to-be ex-wife and soon to be ex-best friend describe your efforts of  cooking perfect loin to her. Turn the other cheek as they show her evidence on former perfect wood-block kitchen table. Increase volume for incredibly exciting Green Bay time out to hear really great ad from  mortgage company.

Ignore former good friend spousette as she joins soon-to-be ex-wife and former best friend in a group roll on floor in front of TV. Politely offer them tissue to wipe their tears away.

Take abuse like a man as Honey, best friend, best friend's spousette finally stop crying and shaking from extreme laughter. Remove the evidence, lest they begin with the hysterics again.  Growl at former man’s best friend "Dog" who sniffs at former loin, yelps painfully, then turns tail and hides from former perfect loin.  

Offer to buy the evil trio off by missing night game by eating out at restaurant with no sports TV on.

Originally posted to agnostic on Tue Jan 15, 2008 at 11:06 AM PST.

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