Steak — The Green Way

Today is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A lot has happened since the first one was celebrated in April 1970.

I have to admit, back then as a college student, the observation didn’t mean as much to me as it does today. Now, I’m trying to do my best to be a good steward of the Earth on a daily basis.

I’m into recycling as are many others. I also don’t use chemicals on my garden or lawn. And as a hunter and an angler, I try to practice conservation.

One area I hadn’t given a lot of thought about was cooking green. That was until I picked up "Cooking Green," by cookbook author Kate Heyhoe. In it, she talks about reducing our "cookprint."

One way to do this is reducing our energy consumption, she suggests. She writes that the appliances we use for storing and cooking our food accounts for 30 percent of our household energy use.

One of the most interesting suggestions she has is that we consider using toaster ovens. Heyhoe says toaster ovens take less time to heat up and cool down and use way less energy than a standard oven.

And you can fix just about anything in a toaster oven — from pizza to chicken to pork chops, baked potatoes to hamburgers to fish to steaks. It’s surprising how many things you can make in a toaster oven.

If you have a toaster oven that’s been gathering dust like we did and want some recipes, I suggest you pick up a copy of "The Gourmet Toaster Oven" (Ten Speed Press, $18.95) by Lynn Alley. In it, Alley offers several dozen toaster oven recipes, including ones for muffins, pot pies and cakes, not to mention main dishes.

Here are two the recipes from the book that look appealing to me.

Grilled Steak with Cracked Peppercorns
4 teaspoons black or mixed peppercorns
1 to 2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 porterhouse steaks or other cut of choice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin
Olive oil
2 lemon wedges (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to broil. For easy cleanup, line the toaster oven baking tray with aluminum foil. (Check your manufacturer’s instructions, however, for any cautions against the use of aluminum foil in your toaster oven.)
Crush the peppercorns and salt in a mortar using a pestle. Or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, toss the peppercorns and salt into a sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin or a wine bottle.
Rub both sides of the steak with the olive oil and press the peppercorn mixture into the steaks. Place the steak on the prepared tray.
Broil the steak for about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until the meat reaches medium doneness. (The time may vary depending upon the thickness of the steak.) Remove from the oven, transfer to plates, and serve immediately with lemon.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutrtional analysis per serving: 423 calories, 21 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, no sugar, 37 grams fat, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 1,343 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Roasted Asparagus
10 ounces fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt
Capers (optional)
Preheat the toaster oven to 375.
Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and vinegar in a baking dish and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the asparagus spears are tender. Serve hot or chill to room temperature and garnish with capers. Or serve cold in a salad.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 171 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams sugar, 14 grams fat, no cholesterol, 140 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.