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!”
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.
- 1 2-4 pound chuck roast
- 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
- 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.)
- Heat oil in large pot and brown roast on both sides at a high temperature.
- Sprinkle onion over roast. Add beef bouillon, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper.
- 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.)
- When roast is fork-tender and falling apart, remove from the pan and make gravy with the drippings.
- Optional: Add quartered, peeled potatoes and whole baby carrots the last hour.
- 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.