Sunday, March 4, 2012

Purple Pot Roast

I wasn’t sure what Saturday would bring. The day unfolded, another change from winter weather back to spring. A late start to the day; uncertain of our plans and then learning that we had the day to ourselves, yet we seemed in different moods, so we went our separate ways for the day.

I thought of a few things: A walk, a drive, a solo adventure? Decisions. I had the day to myself, and it was too nice of a day outside to stay inside and read the day away. I went to my recipe box and looked through “My Great Recipes” recipe cards. Each card, a color image with many possibilities. A few that stood out: beef and cheese turnovers, sesame peanut butter cookies, pineapple muffins, pumpkin-pecan pie. I’ve had these recipe cards—those that I salvaged from the set—since childhood. I wish that I had kept the entire set, but at least I have a small batch of cards left. I’ve looked at the beef and cheese turnovers card and the others several times over the years, pulling and putting back. Of these particular cards that caught my attention yesterday, I have only made the sesame peanut butter cookies, which were delightful—the added flavor, crunch, and texture of the sesame seeds make all the difference.

After looking through recipes and finding nothing that I was certain about, a spark lighted: I would make a Pot Roast. Not a typical day for a hearty winter meal, though, a fine excuse to finally buy the cast iron Dutch oven that I saw at World Market; and at last I would make a pot roast, a craving I’ve had for some time now, and only my second time making one. I followed the recipe in The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Once I knew I was going to prepare a beef pot roast, I wrote a grocery list and off I went. My first stop was World Market and while I picked up the Dutch oven, I also bought a new cutting board for veggies, since I had used the other one for meats and have been breaking the rules of keeping the meats and veggie cutting separate.

Next I took the scenic route to Safeway— always the scenic route. I went to a different Safeway this time for a change of pace and I’m glad I did. After winding through narrow hilly roads, admiring homes; taking it slow; smiling at trees flirting with spring, and ending up on the long stretch of road that would take me to my destination, I arrived.

And upon arrival, my whole body felt like the mountain looking back at me, beginning to show its verdant vibrancy through the sleepy browns; tree stumps all around were like happy people; other trees blossoming yellow puffs of brilliance. I sat in my car and soaked it in—life all around me—tingly with the beauty that surrounded me; when I heard the crow caw, I said hello softly. I let him know I hear him and I always look to find where he is, and I see another and they are conversing from the small distance between them.

Slowly, coming out of my reverie…I pull myself along and I walk into Safeway with a light step. I made it through my list and the last item I needed was a dry red wine for the roast. I’ve come to the conclusion that though I’ve enjoyed the few wine tastings I’ve been to, and enjoy a glass of wine here and there, I’m truly not a wine drinker. I tend to prefer beer, but only certain beers—a very small pool of beers.

In search for a dry red for the pot roast, and having no idea and forgetting to look this up before I left home, I asked the person working in the beer and wine area. He was stumped. He was still helpful and went to ask someone else, but came up empty. I thanked him anyway and said I’d have a look and hope for the best.

The wine isle was too crowded for the cart. I swung around and entered the isle from the other side, parking my cart out of the way. I was still puzzled when I saw a gentleman with white hair, a handsome man of 65 or 70, a sparkle in his eyes and friendliness in his face. I asked him if he happened to know of a good dry red for a pot roast—for cooking and drinking. He thought about it a moment and then said that he and his wife had actually enjoyed a Bogle Petit Sirah recently with a pot roast. I remembered having had a Sirah once and I liked it. I thanked him and went in search amongst the many reds. He was edging back that way to meet his wife and he pointed it out.  “Ah, there it is. Thank you,” I said. He saw his wife and told her what I was looking for and she smiled in a way that made me feel he made a good recommendation. I said thank you again and was so pleased at how helpful the man was.

Safeway is known for their customer service. This particular store had the friendliest group thus far and they seemed genuine: The young man who gave me a cart on my way into the store; the woman in produce who went out of her way to help me find the type of apples I couldn’t find; and the older gentleman bagging my groceries who asked my name before then thanking me by name and bidding me a good day in a truly blissful way. How could one have a bad day when so many others are filling it with their good nature and joy?

Back at home, I unloaded, and set to work. The second thing I did after getting the meat in the refrigerator was to open the wine and have a glass while I prepared the meal. I must say I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the wine went down, but on weekends I still prefer a cold beer during dinner preparation. I took the meat out and began browning each side in my new cast iron Dutch oven. Once that was done, I poured the mixture of heated red wine, Worchestire sauce, beef bullion, and crushed basil over the top as instructed. The aroma was heavenly.

Between cooking, I finished watching the movie, Julia and Julia, a compliment to the pairing to the day’s meal and mood.

For the most part, I was pleased with how the pot roast turned out, though the color of the juices, which became the gravy, looked a deep blackish purple. It wasn’t a bright gravy as I’m used to seeing and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a gravy look like this. This is a case where it tasted much better than it looked and I found that it didn’t look as bad when poured over the top of the roast and vegetables. I do wonder if the deep wine color and the cast iron together caused this odd color?

I kept the meal simple and served the roast and added vegetables of potato, carrot, and celery, with “Jiffy” corn muffins. I cheated a bit on the muffins. “Jiffy” makes it easy and tasty.

I was pleased and felt much better about the meal when my significant other raved about the flavors and said the meal was delicious. Because this wasn’t a roast cooked all day, it didn’t become fall apart tender, as I would have preferred, but he assured me that it was tender enough. He wanted seconds and enjoyed it a lot more that I expected. That made my night.

No comments: