Life Without TV and a Simple Pot Roast

Kay's Pot Roast-616.jpg

Kay's Pot Roast with Gravy

My parents chose not to have a TV in the house when I was growing up.  Evenings were a time of practicing piano, reading, doing homework, and  playing Scrabble with my dad during the winter. Don’t be thinking it was a joyous time of family sharing every night, a la Norman Rockwell. I complained, convinced I would grow up to be a freaky farm girl, out of touch with the real world. However, I did love the Scrabble games.

They were open-dictionary affairs. Dad allowed us to pore over a big, fat Webster’s in search of the perfect word. While some would call it cheating, our vocabulary expanded and we learned to spell. Never mind that our favorite words were only two letters long and not ones we would likely use in real life. The dictionary also made for fewer arguments that started with “That’s not a real word!”

Scrabble Box.jpg

We kept notes about high scores on the inside of the box. Obviously, this is not the box we used at home. That one is even more interesting.

So now you understand why I’m addicted to Words with Friends, just like many of you.  Not only does it remind me of good times with my dad, it’s a challenge with meaningless consequences– the perfect stress-reliever.

My older sister’s pot roast is another good memory from childhood. Many times I  walked into her house after church to the perfume of this recipe cooking in the oven. M-m-m-m. Now that’s what I call aroma-therapy!

Because it’s basic, Kay’s recipe provides plenty of opportunities for customization.

  • Add garlic.
  • Cut roast into small chunks to make Beef Tips and serve over rice.
  • Substitute red wine or burgundy for some of the water.
  • Use milk instead of water in the gravy.
  • Add thyme, a bay leaf and/or rosemary.
  • Add sliced mushrooms, fresh or canned.

Kay's Pot Roast
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A simple pot roast that's perfect for Sunday dinner
  • 1 2-4 pound chuck roast
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup onions, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried, minced onions
  • 1 tablespoon beef bouillon crystals or 1 cube, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ - 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Dredge trimmed chuck roast in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. (I don't dredge the meat in flour, and it seems to make no difference in the end but my sister has always dredged her roast in flour for reasons not fully explained.)
  2. Heat oil in large pot and brown roast on both sides at a high temperature.
  3. Sprinkle onion over roast. Add beef bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.
  4. Pour water around edge of pan. Cover and cook at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Check once or twice to make sure there is enough water. (Amount of water needed can vary greatly according to the type of pan you use.)
  5. When roast is fork-tender and falling apart, remove from the pan and make gravy with the drippings.
  6. Optional: Add quartered, peeled potatoes and whole baby carrots the last hour.
  1. Add flour to water and mix well. Add to drippings (if there aren't many drippings, add water until you have at least a cup of broth) and whisk well. Cook on medium-low until thickened. Using milk instead of water will make a lighter-colored gravy with a slightly richer taste.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy February 26, 2012 at 10:08 am

Hi Paula,
Really love your site! I’ve never made a pot roast and this looks delish! Question…I don’t understand, in step 4, what is meant by “Pour water around edge of pan.” How is this done Thanks!


Yena February 14, 2012 at 9:22 pm

I’ve also been through with a period of no tv but unlike what the other had says here I love it. I love the comfort that it offers like complete rest without any disturbing noise coming from the television, completely no destructive news and get to savor life away from the civilization. It’s the total package of peace. I bet you to try it for some time.


Paula February 16, 2012 at 4:52 am

Yena, Sounds like a challenge to me and I’m thinking about trying it. I’m sure you are 100% correct. Thanks for taking the time to write. paula


`Suzanne February 12, 2012 at 11:45 pm

The photo of this pot roast looks so good and I’m sure the smell is aroma therapy. I think that is great that you grew up that way, it does make the imagination grow too. I recently learned how to play scrabble about 3 years ago…isn’t that crazy? I love words with friends too.


Betty @ scrambled hen fruit February 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm

We had TV when I was growing up, but it was black and white and simply not that interesting. (Not to mention the fact that you could only get a couple of stations, and that was on a good day.) I remember playing dominoes and scrabble, and having lots of outdoor time. (I have to admit that I too am addicted to Words With Friends.) It’s fun to reminisce. 🙂 That pot roast looks really tasty!


sis February 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Thanks for the memories!


Vicki V February 3, 2012 at 6:32 am

Mmm, sounds wonderful! I can almost smell it! We weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day except for Saturday morning cartoons. And no TV watching unless homework was done. I still don’t watch it too much, except for the Food Network and the Amazing Race! We got rid of cable for six years when my kids were younger. They had no idea who Hannah Montana was for the longest time! 🙂


Paula February 2, 2012 at 9:31 am

Ha! Love that you called this recipe aroma therapy. The pot roast looks delicious. I’m not familiar with Words with Friends but my husband plays Scrabble on his iPad and loves it.


TheKitchenWitch February 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

For some reason, my pot roast always turns out shitty. Maybe I’ll try yours. And life without TV? Ahhhh! The horror! 😉


Mid Mod Tom February 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

That sounds so good! I’ve taken to using my slow cooker for my pot roast and discovered quite the revelation: perfectly ‘roasted’ carrots! Now that’s the only way I cook carrots!


The Café Sucré Farine February 2, 2012 at 3:30 am

How fun Paula to hear about your childhood – sounds like special memories to me! That scrabble is probably part of why you’re such a good writer too! The pot roast looks amazing and definitely like something delicious my mom would have made! Also looks like the leftovers would make fabulous soup! Sometimes I make a pot roast just for the leftovers!
p.s. I’m a bit jealous that you have a sister so close – mine are spread all over the country ):


*Just Fran* February 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm

We did have a TV when I was growing up, but the rural area where I lived only received 2 channels on a regular basis and PBS if the wind blew the antenna just right. We also had only a black and white set until I was in junior high (early 80s). I read A LOT, and tried to get my sister to play Scrabble, but she wasn’t that into it. I was incredibly jealous of my classmates with cable TV and endless programming. Now, Hubs and I have a satellite and our own endless selection, and I am back to reading (or surfing the net) more than watching. Everything that was always comes back, I guess…except that black and white set. I hope.

Pot roast is a favorite comfort food for us, too. I also have memories of coming home from church to the beefy aroma filling the house. Delish. Will have to try your version next time I take this walk down memory lane. Thanks for sharing.


Lauren @ Healthy Delicious February 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

we went through fairly long period with no tv too and I hated it so much. Especially when I failed a homework assignment to track how many minutes of programming versus commercials were in our favorite show (teacher didn’t believe me when I siad we didn’t have a tv). But now we’re glued to the damn thing every night and I kind of wish we didn’t have one….

I’m not the biggest fan of post roast, but hubby loves it. I should probabaly make it for him one of these days.


Paula February 1, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Lauren, I hated it too. The only thing that saved me was watching it occasionally at Grandma’s house which was within walking distance. Would you believe my parents got a television as soon as my youngest sister left the house and now my 94-yr-old mom watches much more TV than I do. Personally, I’m a radio freak because of it and you will find it on in my house most of the time.


Lorraine February 1, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Kay’s Pot Roast looks just perfect and I can imagine the warm, comforting aroma it gives off!

I like the open-dictionary Scrabble variation. Sweet family memories!


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