Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thawing Out

You know, I think we should make New Year's Revolutions (if we're going to make them) in the Spring, not in the dead of Winter. It feels more appropriate. And for all my loving of Winter, I sure do feel reawakened and refreshed and rejuvenated when the first warm breezes blow in and things start to thaw out.

I'm ready for new beginnings! New menus, new diet plans, new chores schedules, even Spring Cleaning. I hate to clean, but every Spring, I get the itch to pull my nest apart and scour it but good. I don't always get to everything on the list, but usually I get to most of it.

So, wanna hear about how I've conquered my beef problem? Sure you do! I decided I wasn't going to hide from the beef section of the meat counter any longer. Rump roast was on sale and I was going to make do with what I have/could get my hands on, blast it! The menfolk in the household looooooooooove beef (and the womenfolk are pretty fond of it, too) so, really, I felt I had no choice but to face my fear and hurdle this...hurdle.

I took a lesson from the last beef I braised from the dead and decided simply to braise from the start. You know, I didn't realize the deal with braising. I don't know why, but it had never really occurred to me to braise anything before. I just thought it wasn't done anymore except by snotty French chefs (you know, the kind who make $100 hamburgers with Kobe beef, truffles and champagne sauce). That's so dumb, I realize that now. That Heavens my ignorance has been penetrated!

I patted a 4.5 lbs rump roast dry with paper towels and sprinkled it with salt and pepper before searing it very carefully, being sure not to leave it and go find something to amuse myself between turns. I don't know why it's so hard for me to stand at the stove staring at a piece of meat, but it is. Then I turned it so the fat side was up (read somewhere that that will help the fat run down and keep the meat moist as it breaks down in the braising process). Then I added a cup of red wine (just some stuff I keep on hand for cooking--couldn't tell you what kind it is), a can of beef broth and a can of chicken broth. No, I don't make my own broth. Not yet, anyway. And I had mistakenly only bought one can of beef so I threw in a can of chicken. That filled the pot about half-way up the sides of the roast. I brought the liquid to a simmer, put the lid on and left it for about, oh, four hours, checking periodically to make sure it wasn't bubbling too much or too little.

About 30 minutes before we had to leave for church, I peeled and chunked carrots and potatoes and threw them in there. Lid back on. Half-an-hour later I lifted the meat and potatoes out, sprinkled some cornstarch into the liquid in the pot, set Redheaded Snippet to whisking and began to dish up.

The meat was tender and juicy. The veg were just the right texture, not to hard, not mushy. Once the gravy had thickened and was strained (it needed no added salt or pepper), it was perfect! Rick, dark, thick and flavorful...mmmmmm! I fed the kids their portions, then packed up mine and The Viking's to take to church.

I must say, that roast was probably the best I've ever made. Everyone in my class was really distracted by its aroma. I suppose it was unfair of me to eat it in front of all of them, but I gotta do what I gotta do on Wednesdays.

The Viking came out of his class later and told me that at one point during their discussion of Stewardship, he took a bite and stopped dead in the middle of his sentence to look down at his food, pause, and say, "Wow. This is really good." I've never cooked anything that stopped a Bible Study in its tracks before. THAT'S a good roast! I felt like such a WOMAN!

So, now, buoyed by my stunning success, I'm contemplating all kinds of new culinary endeavors. It's Menu Plan day (I do my shopping on Fridays--usually--so I like to plan on Thursdays) and this week I'm adding homemade breakfast foods and granola bars to my list (thanks Leila)! I am sick and tired of feeding the children processed foods for breakfast every morning and putting them in their lunches each day. If they will insist on subsisting largely on granola bars, fruit snacks and cereals, I'm going to at least make sure they're eating healthy varieties or altogether substitutes. Made lovingly by ME. The other day, one of Redheaded Snippet's friends asked her what her favorite food was and she said, "Mama J's home-cookin'"! I thought she was yanking my chain at first, but she was serious! Isn't that cool? And Mama J is what she and her friends call me. Isn't that cool, too?

Right, so I'm off to plan menus and write up grocery lists. Tonight is an easy meal: beef pot pie made with leftovers from last night's spectacular roast! This one gets a yippee from 3 out of 4 Cottage at Witsenders (guess which one is the lone holdout?)!

And I think I need to hang some more clothes on the line...


Amy said...

You know, I actually discovered by watching ATK one day that chicken broth works better for many beef dishes because it's less bitter. Since then I've definitely found it works really well.

Pippajo said...

I didn't know you watched ATK! That must have been where I got the idea to use it...I can't see myself coming up with that on my own.

We'll see how it works tonight in the Beef Pot Pie.

Leila said...

Good braising! b/c I don't have success with rump roast, I have to say... :(

I usually use chuck. I wish I had the beef of my childhood...

Amy said...

I only occasionally watch ATK. I don't even know when it's on but if I catch it I tend to watch, because the tips are so handy. I do very little real cooking these days, what with the chaos and tiredness and all.