The Aroma of Sunday Pot Roast

September 30, 2007

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When I was growing up, on most Sundays before we left for church, Mama would put a pot roast in the oven.  How appropriate, that when we got home from church — home smelled like “heaven!” 

They say that of our senses, the sense of smell has the longest memory.  And I do remember exactly how that smell wafted out the door and welcomed us as we walked in after church.

I have made this meal many times myself (I USED to cook, regularly), and it always makes the house smell so wonderful!  But, because for many years we have gone to the 8 a.m. service and then out to breakfast with Hubby’s brother and his wife, I don’t make it for Sunday noon.  And maybe that’s the reason, even though it always smells wonderful when I make it, it never smells quite as good as I remember it did when it was SUNDAY pot roast after church, and made by my Mama.

In case you would like to try it, there isn’t a specific recipe (as with many great foods), but here is the way I make it:

I put a chuck roast (at least 2 lbs.) in the bottom of a granite roaster (the oval shaped one with the dome lid) with water that almost covers the roast, but not quite.  Then I generously sprinkle the top of the meat with worchestershire sauce and garlic salt.  I add potatoes (at least, a potato per person) that have been quartered, a big white onion cut in chunks and carrots.  Put these veggies around the sides of the roast in the water.  Sprinkle it all with salt and pepper.

Put the lid on and put it in a 350 degree oven for 2 to 3 hours.  (We think it tastes best when the meat has been cooked to death and the veggies practically fall apart when you take them out to put in a bowl).  If you like gravy, make it with the broth.  Or, you can just put the broth in a small pitcher as “easy gravy.”

Mama always served this with green beans cooked with bacon, and her wonderful yeast rolls  (Our daughter has inherited the “gift” to make these rolls.  Mama loved that).  I do stir-fried green beans in olive oil, with bacon, onion and garlic, and we skip the rolls; partly because I am NOT good at making them and partly because we have to do SOMETHING to make the meal a little bit healthier.  I also serve a salad with it.

Mama made roast beef sandwiches out of the leftover meat.  And made fried potatoes out of the leftover potatoes and onions.  I like to make stew out of all of the leftovers (beef, potatoes, onion, carrots AND the leftover green beans).  I just cut it all up in bite-size pieces (except the green beans, of course), put it all in a stew pot with some of the broth, add V-8, more worchestershire sauce and some hot sauce (like Frank’s). and (this is where you can be creative) spice to taste!  For us this means, we take turns going in to the kitchen to stir it and adding whatever we think “it needs.”  Since the ingredients are all already cooked, you are really just cooking it to combine the flavors.  It shouldn’t require more than about 1/2 hour.  But, keep in mind, the longer it cook, the more the flavors blend.  We like this stew we make almost as well as the original meal.

May God bless each of you richly on this Sunday.  And may one of those blessings be memories you have and memories you make for YOUR children that are and will be treasured like mine of Mama’s Sunday Pot Roast. 


Coincidence . . .

September 29, 2007

 

. . . is just one of life’s little gifts.  It has no real purpose, except as fodder for conversation at family gatherings, cocktail parties — and on blogs!

Here is a little story about a group of coincidences that came together to make for a “what are the odds?” experience.

On my birthday I took doughnuts to the office, as customary, and then went around the office inviting my co-workers to have a birthday doughnut.

When I got to Don’s office, he said, “Oh, really.  Well, today is MY birthday too!”  We were exactly the same age. (So, where were his doughnuts?) 

Our interest piqued by this coincidence, we continued to chat, and found out that, lo and behold, we had both been married on the exact same day, same year too.

As we chatted, he asked me where I was born.  When I said, “Springfield,” his mouth dropped open before I could even say the state.  We had both been born in Springfield — but Springfield’s in different states.

That evening I called Mama because I knew she would enjoy this story, and she reminded me of something I had forgotten.  When my name was picked (back in the “old days” when you didn’t know the sex of the baby beforehand, you picked a boy’s and girl’s name), the boy’s name that was chosen was Donald.  So, if I had been a boy, I would have been a Don too.

Next time I saw Don, I told him this one more coincidence, but I couldn’t resist embellishing on it just a wee bit, for humor’s sake.   I told him that Mama said she just couldn’t keep us both, so decided to only keep the cute one.  Of course, she didn’t say that, but it did give us one last laugh in our series of coincidences.

He now calls me “Sis.”


We Are Going To Be A Hoot In “The Home”

September 28, 2007

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Both Hubby and I have a hearing loss.  His from a virus that attacked his inner ear 4 years ago, and mine from heredity.  It makes for some funny conversations and sometimes some mistaken information!

One evening I was reading the newspaper and saw that an elderly cousin of Hubby’s mother had died.  Hubby was in the next room on the computer, so I said loudly to him, “Did you hear that Glen Brown died?”

Hubby answered, “ Lynn Crown died? 

I said, “Yes, it’s in the paper tonight.

Hubby said, “We’ll have to go to the wake.”

No more was said.

The next day, Hubby came home from work and said, “A lot of people at work were surprised to hear that Lynn Crown (former mayor of a near-by town) had died.”

I said, “LYNN CROWN DIED?!”

He gave me the strangest look and said, “Yessss.  That’s what you told me yesterday!

I said, “No, I told you GLEN BROWN died!!”

 To this day, we hope that Lynn Crown never hears that we were prematurely spreading the word of his demise!


I Thought We Were Going on Vacation!

September 27, 2007

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I was born when my parents were both 39 years old.  That may not seem all that unusual now, but in 1946 it was not all that common to have a baby at that age – especially if you already had four teenage children!

 

I’m told by one of my sisters that this is the way they were told:  Mama and Daddy had taken the four of them to a movie at the neighborhood theater, and as they were walking home, Daddy said, “Remember that trip to California we were going to take next summer?  Well, we’re going to get something even better instead — a baby!”   And they were all thrilled, she says.

Okay that’s Sis’s story, and she’s sticking to it.  But I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t at least one of them grumbling under their breath, “I’d rather have the vacation.”  Vacations were not a yearly thing, so any vacation was a big deal to them and one to California was a BIG trip, because they lived in the Midwest.  But apparently they had all embraced the trade-off  by the time I was born.  See picture above.  (A therapist would probably tell me that I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove to my siblings that I’m better than a vacation!)

 I was always told by my parents that I was NOT an accident, and they always let me know I was loved, but I have to tell you that it is hard to picture a couple with daughters 16, 15 and 13 and a son 12, saying to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be fun to have another child!”  

 I’m told my name was picked by a vote.  Luckily, my brother was the ONLY one who voted for “Trigger” – the name of Roy Roger’s horse.

 

 

Because of these circumstances, I was raised more or less by committee in my early years.  I was a good child – I had to be – someone was watching me every minute!  I am told that when I was a baby, Mama had to limit each of them to rocking me for 15 minutes so that they could all have a turn (can you say spoiled?).  We have old home movies of me learning to walk with two teenagers on either side of me trying to keep me from falling.

 

 

Planned or not, it was a great life for me.  I was an aunt when I was 3 years old.  My two oldest nieces and oldest nephew, Connie, David and Susie, were really my contemporaries more than my siblings.  And my parents always said later that having me, kept them young longer.

 

I believe God knows and has a plan for every baby that is ever conceived.  I thank Him that my parents weren’t people who would have considered terminating a pregnancy because it came at an inconvenient time in life.


Roses – How Temporary

September 26, 2007

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Hubby has always had a problem with flowers as a gift.  It’s not that he can’t see how beautiful they are.  It’s just that he finds them so — temporary.  And his solid German Lutheran, farm family background means he was raised to like solid, usable kinds of gifts (thermal underwear or savings bonds come to mind). I learned this before we were even married, in a very memorable way. 

After high school, I went to work at a large insurance company as a secretary.  Hubby-in-waiting and I became engaged that summer (I was 18, he was 20).  At the insurance company I worked with someone else who was engaged — the beautiful “older” (20) secretary and part-time dance instructor, who glided instead of walked — Loretta.  She was not only tall, graceful and beautiful, she also had a soft well-modulated voice and was one of the nicest people I had ever met (don’t you just hate her type?).  The beautiful Loretta was engaged to the besotted Dick, who always looked at her with adoring eyes that clearly said how lucky he knew he was that she was going to marry HIM. 

One Friday morning beautiful, long-stemmed red roses arrived at the office for Loretta with a card that just said, “Happy Friday, Love, Dick”  That was just about the most romantic thing that my 18 year old self had ever seen!  So, that evening when Hubby-in-waiting and I went out, I told him that romantic story.  He didn’t say much but I found out later he WAS listening.

The next Friday evening when we went out, I found out what Hubby-in-waiting felt he had learned from the story about Loretta and Dick — fiancee’s liked surprise gifts!  So, when we got in his car to go to a movie. he pulled out a little box with a bow on it, and, of course, professed his love.  How exciting!  It was a long box, so maybe a bracelet!  But, I couldn’t really picture him picking something like that out — so I opened the box to find what he HAD lovingly picked out — a beautiful — (drum roll) — pen and pencil set. 

Hmm.  I’d like to say that I ohhhed and ahhhed over said pen and pencil set, but I remember my 18 year old self well enough to be pretty sure Hubby-to-be would have easily read my underwhelmed-ness. 

Over the years I have told this story many, many times — always with lots of laughs at the punch line.  And Hubby has always just smiled and taken the ribbing good naturedly that he always gets about it.  But, I have come to treasure this as a story that says so much about who Hubby is.  He loves me but he tempers that love with practicality — something that I have always been short on myself.  He is a rock not a fluffy cloud. 

Hubby is not perfect.  But, he is the absolutely perfect husband for me.  God knew that when He gave Hubby to imperfect me.  I am so blessed with my thermal underwear, savings bond, pen & pencil set guy.  

God’s blessings are sometimes in pen and pencil sets when we’d rather have roses.  May we all be able to see the love in the gift more than the gift in the box.  


Is That Where That Eyebrow Was Yesterday?

September 25, 2007

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When you’re 61 (can anything good come from a blog that starts like that?), it is a surprise every morning to get up and see how things about your body have changed, seemingly overnight! And hardly ever for the good. 

Apparently, while I am blissfully sleeping, my body is taking that down time to make “adjustments,” i.e., to rearrange, deflate, soften up, wrinkle and turn up the ache volume on various parts of my body.  Also, I firmly believe that information that I used to be able to retain with ease in my brain, now leaks out my ear when I lay down to sleep at night.  I never had a great memory, but it is AWFUL now.  Let me just suggest that when you visit me after I’ve moved to “the home” — where a name tag.

Particularly annoying is the way aging has influenced my eyebrows.  Most of my life, the experts said that you should never pluck above your eyebrows; and I always obeyed that rule.  But now, plucking is the only thing standing between my eyebrows and my hairline meeting!  Let me just suggest to each of you that RIGHT NOW you go to the mirror and memorize where your eyebrows are and what their shape is.  Better yet, take a picture without your make-up on, so that you will have a future reference, when your eyebrows no longer remember where they are supposed to be, and strike out on their own in every direction!

I see some women who apparently have solved this problem by removing their eyebrows entirely, and then drawing them on.  One memorable lady, who worked in a bakery that I used to visit, had perfectly drawn half-moon eyebrows that were hard not to stare at.  For the life of me I couldn’t think of a way to casually ask her if she used a protractor to draw on her eyebrows.  But, I couldn’t think of how else she could have gotten them so perfectly, and startlingly drawn on each day.

So, in conclusion, if you ever meet me, please try not to stare at my eyebrows.  I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN!!! OKAY??

As the saying goes, “Getting old is not for sissies.”  

I have to go now.  I need to go buy some ear plugs and a protractor.

 


Ernie-isms

September 24, 2007

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Ernie is a wonderful black woman with whom I shared an office in the 70’s.  We were secretaries at a large manufacturing company, but I believe God put me in that office with Ernie for reasons other than typing.

Ernie had 9 children, the youngest a year older than our oldest child. So anything I was going through with my children, she had already been through, usually MANY times.  And she had a faith that showed in everything she did.  And she loved to laugh too, which of course, made us friends, as well as co-workers.

Ernie had a way of saying things that was so charming and quotable, I came to call them Ernie-isms:

“I try not to look at other people and judge who they are and how they’re doing things, because while I’m looking at them, Christ may come back and I won’t be looking up watching for Him, and I’ll miss Him!”

“When I’m worried about something, I’ll just say, ‘Lord, I’m just going to give this to you to take care of, and I’m not going to worry about it any more.  And a half hour later, I find myself grabbing it back, and saying, ‘Let me worry about that just a little bit more!’”

She agreed to coordinate the wedding of a young couple in her church, even though she’d never done that before.  Unfortunately, her fears were well-founded — everything that could go wrong, did go wrong – missing flowers, no-shows in the wedding party, etc.  When she came to work on Monday, I asked how the wedding went, so she gave me all the gory details (in a way that made me laugh until I cried) and ended by saying, “If I EVER stand up and say I’m going to coordinate a wedding again, just tell me, ‘Sit down, Fool!”

She loved to tell this story:  In her church, they did an elaborate hand-out for funerals, and Ernie was the one who did them (probably because her husband owned a small printing company).  She always talked about the “bereaved” family in them.  When her youngest daughter was very little and kept hearing talk about the bereaved family, she commented that that Bereaved family must be a sickly bunch because so many members of the family kept dying!

Ernie is about 80 now, and I have just heard that she may have Alzheimer’s.  But I know she will handle that just like she has always handled things — with grace, humor and faith.  And I will always treasure the wisdom she shared with me about God and kids and life, in general.

Thank you, God, for Ernie.