Girl attacking steakLike every family, we’ve had our food battles with our 10-year-old daughter. With great dismay, we watched a pre-schooler who amazed us with the range of her palate (she couldn’t get enough Altoids or wasabe peas) morph into a bratty pre-teen who turns dinner into a slugfest with a litany of foods she refuses to eat.

“What’s for dinner?” is no longer an innocent question, but the opening salvo of our nightly culinary donnybrook.

Meanwhile, we’ve been trying to teach Leila to lay off the sugar and also the refined carbohydrates. She would eat pasta three times a day if she could. In our house, we try to focus more on proteins and green vegetables. So I can’t really complain that she’s found a food she is absolutely wild for, and something her parents also love.

Turns out she’s got Tiffany taste: Her new favorite food is steak. And she wants it every night.

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She’s become a real pest about it. “I want steak,” she announces nightly. “Steak, steak, steak, steak, steak!”

On our Sunday walks home from the farmers market, we usually stop by the local Whole Foods. These days, she stands in front of the meat counter and stares longingly. In the condensation on the glass over a stack of thick rib-eyes, she writes “Leila was here.” She loves rib-eye, the fattier the better.

Coincidentally, I ran across a newly published book called, aptly enough, Steak: One Man’s Search for the Tastiest Piece of Beef. I ordered a copy from Amazon thinking we could make a bedtime reading project out of it. But when the book arrived, she grabbed it out of my hand. She put it in her backpack and took it to school. (Her fifth-grade teacher was surprised to see it.)

We get most of our meat delivered from our local dairy, where a herd of beef cattle grazes on pasture. This week, I promised Leila a steak and ordered a sirloin that was on sale. She pitched a fit because it wasn’t rib-eye. According to her new book, she said, sirloin was listed last for flavor, way behind rib-eye. How could I be so stupid as to order sirloin?

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Ignoring her, I cooked the sirloin — but of course I can’t prepare her steak any old way. She insists I grill it over live coals. When I brought the finished steak to the kitchen — a thing of beauty, perfectly browned — she gave it a good, long looking over and declared it didn’t have enough fat. I cut a slice. It was rare, just the way we like it, and obviously grass fed, with its deep hue.

Leila tasted. Leila chewed. Leila smiled.

She liked it. And who wouldn’t? The flavor was intense, even from this humble sirloin. If only there were more fat, she moaned, as she bit into another slice.

Things could be worse. I think of all the other things a daughter could be addicted to: drugs, sex, texting. Steak doesn’t seem so bad. But this could be a very expensive habit. If she wants rib eye for dinner every night, she’s going to have to start saving her allowance.

Get off your ass alert: Curious where you can find your own locally-raised, grass-fed meat? has compiled a comprehensive state by state directory of pasture-based farms, including ones that ship. 

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