Korean Bulgogi (Grilled Steak) | Paleo, Primal
You guys, I’ve already been in Boulder for more than two weeks. WHAT? It took me the first week to feather my nest, find a good daily groove, and get my brain adjusted to the unsettling fact that I’m a long way from home. But a visit from my sister Etta, a last-minute (and utterly stunning, more on that later) trip to Aspen, and a second visit from Etta along with my stepmom Susanna all lifted my spirits, as did settling into a productive Stephanie-in-Boulder routine.
I have a lot of goals for this trip. Probably too many, which would be very…me, ha. As I wrote last time, I realized I had some thinking and grieving and planning to do, particularly how to integrate my desire for a healthier lifestyle into my daily routine and work in Minneapolis.
The Flatiron Mountains define Boulder. Trails criss-cross those mesas and are no more than 15 minutes from any part of town.
My early observations are that Boulder is both a food-loving and health-conscious town. Damn near everyone is trim and fit and active, and the restaurants and markets are vibrant and hopping. The grocery stores are lovely and offer a wide array of local, organic produce and pastured/wild/grass-fed meat, fish, eggs, and dairy.
It’s also an affluent town with a heavenly, sunny climate and stunning and rigorous mountain hikes 15 minutes from most places in the city.
In other words, it’s a bubble.
And I am totally OK with that. In fact, it’s why I’m here. If you’re going to flee, head for a bubble! The truth is, I had a hard summer in Minneapolis. If you are a friend of mine, I apologize for whining incessantly about the humidity. I’m usually pretty good about “getting out in it,” as in forcing myself outside in all of Minnesota’s seasons, because I am deeply aware of how closely my mental, emotional, and physical well-being are tied to exercising in nature most days of the week. But I couldn’t muster it this summer, I felt like I was under water: lethargic, weighed down, oppressed. SO CRANKY. When you live with six months of winter each year, you cherish summer! That’s what makes us Minnesotans! But I couldn’t and I didn’t and it unhinged me a bit.
What the hell happened?
I suspect it was a lot of things, and of course some of them had nothing to do with the weather and had everything to do with feeling stuck in general. The humidity just exaggerated my frustration with my brain and repeating annoying patterns. It also made my hair frizzy and while it’s utterly shallow to care, four months of bad hair days weigh on a girl. It may also be that I have issues with mold that I have yet to uncover – that lethargy was pretty intense and it disappears when I’m in an arid climate. Hmmm. I am not exaggerating when I say that in large part, humidity caused me to flee Minneapolis.
Dry-air bliss, ha. Working outside, in yoga clothes, which is all anyone wears here, and it’s awesome. I have not opened my make-up bag since I arrived!
Needless to say, I am loving the dry, cool air/warm sun situation here in Colorado. It is a balm for my soggy soul. I am out in it every single day and my energy has soared. The sunshine and crisp breezes are clearing cobwebs from my brain and I’m thinking and writing the way I want and need to and I’m very grateful. So far, bubble goals achieved.
The trick is going to be: how do I bring all of this back to Minnesota? I’m fretting about it a bit. On the plus side, I’m doing yoga almost every day, and that is easily replicated at home. Along with the fresh air, yoga has been a lifesaver, giving me an hour of active meditation per day and in the case of hot yoga, which I do once per week, an active sauna/detox experience which feels really amazing.
But the sunshine and hiking…hmmm again. I’m an avid walker and I’m just going to need to do MORE of it. I clearly need sunshine on my skin and on my retinas and registering in my brain.
I also need a plan for more intense physical activity. The beauty of hiking is that you can achieve lung-busting in a relatively short period of time (in a gorgeous setting to boot). Working that hard confers not just strength and weight benefits, but a big mental rush. I think I got caught in a loop of lethargy this summer that spiraled down, because I didn’t feel like pushing myself in the humidity. Bad cycle. To be broken. Stat.
I have had FANTASTIC locally-raised, grass-fed beef since arriving. Like wow good. Beef heaven!
So I’m thinking. I believe the solution lies in culture and community – and certainly there are communities of active, vibrant people in Minneapolis, even if they’re a bit harder to find and see than they are here. It obviously doesn’t require living in a natural paradise like Boulder to connect with the basic human need for – and deep satisfaction in – being active in nature and/or facing and overcoming physical challenges. When I meet those two needs – along with deep nutrition and good sleep (which, by the way, is basically the paleo template right there) – I have the mental and physical energy to tackle the work of “werk” and of healing my past.
It’s a fact that decisions about food and health are contagious. If you want to be healthy, hang out with healthy people or influence the people around you with your good decisions. It’s very important to me to spread joy through delicious and fun ideas around nourishment, health, healing, and vibrancy. We only get one body and one brain and it makes so much more sense – and frankly, it’s a lot more fun – to cherish them both than to neglect or beat the shit out of them.
As always, thanks for “listening” as I smooth this all out. Thank you also for the amazing notes and comments after my last post – I was blown away. Your feedback and support give me as much energy as dry air and sunshine and I am so grateful. You guys are the best.
In honor of the FANTASTIC grass-fed beef I’ve been enjoying while here in Colorado, enjoy this recipe for Korean Bulgogi, one of my favorite easy and flavor-packed steak recipes. I’ve been making this exact recipe for 25 years! I don’t remember where it’s from but it’s a winner. Enjoy!
Note: rice or cauliflower rice are fantastic accompaniments. Roll the steak and rice into lettuce leaves, if you like, or go bigger and serve as part of a bowl of bibimbap, with raw and sautéed vegetables, a soft-cooked egg, sesame oil, and chile paste.
2 lbs. ribeye or sirloin steaks
6 scallions, sliced thin, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. minced ginger
1/4 c. soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar (or substitute coconut sugar, honey, or maple syrup)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (more for garnish, if you like)
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
generous grinding of black pepper
hot rice or cauliflower rice to serve
Score steak deeply, just short of through to the other side, in a 1-inch criss-cross diamond pattern. Flip steaks over and repeat on second side. Lay steaks flat in a large glass baking dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together 4 Tbsp. of the scallions and the remaining ingredients. Pour half of the marinade over the steaks, turn the steaks over, and top with remaining marinade. Use your fingers to evenly distribute the scallions, garlic, and ginger, pushing the seasonings into the scores in the steak. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Prepare a hot grill or preheat broiler.
Grill or broil steaks until medium-rare, about 4 minutes per side (add time for thicker steaks). Transfer to a cutting board and let steaks rest for 5 minutes.
Using a sharp knife, slice steaks very thinly against the grain. Garnish the sliced steaks with remaining scallions and serve immediately with hot rice.
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