My old roommate was a master foodie. Cooking was his passion and, by God, he was good at it. He would eat some of the weirdest things (peanut butter and curry sandwiches were not unusual), but in his generous experimentation, I never tasted anything that wasn’t two miles past delicious.

But cooking around him was intimidating: To use his knife and pan set required an afternoon tutorial going through the various blades, special cleaning instructions for each type of metal, and learning the correct order to apply salt, water and oil to to All-Clad pan (I’m still not 100% on that one). The end result was while he loved and embraced teaching cooking, his lessons almost invariably made the whole process terrifying, despite his best intentions.

I’m not alone in my intimidation, as Michael Ruhlman noted in his post “America: Too Stupid to Cook”:

Americans are being taught that we’re too stupid to cook. That cooking is so hard we need to let other people do it for us. The messages are everywhere. Boxed cake mix. Why is it there? Because a real cake is too hard! You can’t bake a cake! Takes too long, you can’t do it, you’re gonna fail!
Look at all those rotisserie chickens stacked in the warming bin at the grocery store. Why? Because roasting a chicken is too hard, takes FOREVER. An hour. I don’t have an hour to watch a chicken cook!
Companies that make microwaveable dinners have spent countless R&D dollars to transform dishes that used to take 7 minutes in the microwave into ones that take 3 minutes. “Hey, Marge, that’s four minutes of extra TEEvee we can watch!”

A little heavy on the snark, but essentially true. And the same lessons are being taught again and again across a variety of subjects, intentionally or not: Setting up your own website is too hard. You’re too dumb to use a URL. Forget basic plumbing: Leave it to a professional or else. Etc. Etc.

Enough moralizing: Cooking can be as easy or as complicated as you want, like many a thing, but I found a really easy steak recipe that was incredible, particularly since I’d been craving something like this since I tried Kona-crusted steaks at the Capital Grille a while back.



  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 (8-ounce) New York or rib eye steaks I substituted 2 good-sized porterhouses
Directions Preheat the oven to 400°F. To make the dry rub, place the coffee, salt, pepper, and brown sugar in a small bowl and toss gently with a fork to combine. To make the steaks, heat the canola oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron) over high heat until almost smoking. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels and generously and evenly coat all sides with the coffee rub, pressing it in a bit. Any leftover rub can be stored in the freezer for another time. Sear well to form a good crust, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Don't panic if the steaks look a little charred, that's what you're going for and will ensure lots of flavor. Transfer the skillet to the hot oven and cook 5 to 7 minutes for medium-rare, or until desired doneness. Remove to a platter and let the meat rest for 5 to 10 minutes before devouring.

Recipe reproduced with permission.