Sunday will be the first mother’s day since my mom passed away last summer. She was 89 and active until the very end, cooking, playing violin in her community orchestra, and even swimming at the local rec center just two weeks before she died.
Of course, I miss her. I’ve thought a lot about who she was and how she took on life. She was as engaged as anyone I’ve ever known. She traveled all over the world. She was never sick (or at least she never mentioned it). She lived a full life.
Wherever my life has taken me, she was interested and encouraging. I’ve dreamed of being a farmer for a long time - going back to when I was a kid. When I was 17 and getting ready to go to college, I asked her if I could have the money my parents had saved for my college tuition and use it to buy a farm. Without hesitating, she said “yes.” (I was never sure if she was just calling my bluff, or if she would have actually let me do that, but I went to college and it took 40 more years till I started farming.)
She loved to cook, especially when her children and her grandchildren were in town. When she was around on my birthday, she would ask what I wanted for dinner. And I always requested “South Sea Steak.”
It’s a marinade recipe for steak that’s sort of like teriyaki - but way better. She didn’t invent the recipe - a friend of hers gave it to her when I was a toddler. But I’ve always loved it and still cook steaks that need marinating using it.
In 1958, when I was five years old, we moved to Topeka, Kansas for my dad’s job. Shortly after we arrived, my mom was featured in the local newspaper with this recipe under the headline “A Newcomer Prepares Steak.” There was a picture of her grilling, and - in a reflection of the times - she was referred to as “Mrs. Marvin Kaplan” throughout the article! It looks like it’s straight out of the TV series Madmen.
So in honor of my mom and all mother’s, I am sharing Netta Kaplan’s recipe for South Sea Steak.
MOM’S SOUTH SEA STEAK
Marinate two pounds of round or chuck steak* in a marinade of:
½ cup salad oil
¼ cut vinegar
¼ cup sugar
Clove of garlic
2 tbsp. Minced green onions
4 tbsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. Sesame seeds
Salt and pepper
Marinate for at least 6 hours
*Farmer Dan note - you can use any marinating steak - such as London Broil, Sirloin, Sirloin Tip steak
Happy Mother’s Day mom!