Most of you have read my repeated grumbling of my dislike for cooking. Not just you, my husband hears it, too. With two people from different US cultures and with different health needs, not to mention often diametrically opposite likes and dislikes of food, cooking is a chore, not fun.
Then if I spend a day, on my feet--more on than off-- I have some swelling--not bad, but nevertheless not good for the heart. And with A-Fib I seem to tire from a day full of chores, even though weight loss has helped lessen A-Fib attacks. It is just the nature of the beast, I am told.
Yesterday (Saturday) I decided to do more than usual for a church event called "Together Sunday" monthly potluck dinner followed by a wedding shower for a couple who had overcome untold health and monetary struggles to finally say "I DO.," We witnessed their determined, never complaining, efforts and planning to reach this point. There were many smiles and tears for this couple when they announced their marriage as we all knew the history.
My church has Life Groups (some religious groups call them cells or small group worship) as substitute for a second worship service the same day.
Now with that little bit of history, I decided to put more effort into a dish than my usual buying desserts at Sam's (I always have some pies and cakes in freezer which is my usual fare), or some exotic rolls I find at WalMart, etc.
We had hosted the Life Group (usually 12-18 people) the week before, and I fortunately had a 12" pecan pie, drinks, coffee, with some flavor additives, unsweetened tea ready. The group brought enough variety for a good meal.
"Together Sunday" attendance averages 75-125 people because it is following Sunday a.m. worship.
I had a frozen HUGE chuck roast in the freezer, I defrosted Friday night. It is one cut of meat I don't mercilessly ruin. I do not roast it in the oven. It becomes a pot roast. I know it is not the healthiest cut of meat. I cut off all visible fat before cooking. I have my own special formula dry rub (no salt, no tenderizer,no sodium, because of bans in my or other potential partakers' diets). I use on all meats, whether beef, chicken, pork or fish.
After rubbing in this dry rub on and in every crevice on both sides of roast, I brown in a large pot in a small amount (thin layer to cover bottom with Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil on the stove top). After turning to brown the second side, I brush on Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce solution and add enough Kitchen Basics Unsalted No-Fat, Beef Flavor Cooking Stock. I don't cover the roast, but enough to simmer for several hours, probably 8-10 oz. Additional stock can be added if needed. I bring stock to boil and reduce to simmer.
I really cannot say how long I let the roast simmer but it was more or less for ll a.m. to about 3 p.m. it does not lose flavor because of the stock and rub, it is so very tender; no one believes it is chuck roast. I strain off the stock and meat fluids and put in freezer to separate the fat, for a interesting sauce.
Then I had chosen some vegetables to accompany the roast, but I don't cook them with the roast. My experience is cooking with the roast makes the veggies less appealing to the eye. I steamed some broccoli cuts to tender. I prepared some boiler onions. I had two packages of potatoes in packages which cook 8 minutes each in the microwave and then peeled when cool. Then I had 2-3" cuts of peeled carrots and de-stringed (somewhat) celery which I boiled in Kitchen Basics Unsalted, No Fat Vegetable Flavor Cooking Stock. I drained and saved the stock.
I decided to make 2 cups (1c meat, 1 c veggie) sauce, using part of each to make a paste (roux) with cornstarch and thickened in pasmall pot on stove. It made a perfectly smooth caramel colored sauce.
Then I separated the meat into serving pieces, placed in a Corning dish which has a cover and heating package to keep it hot. I arranged the veggies around the meat, making a colorful looking dish. I drizzled the sauce over everything, and a alittle extra to take separately for those who like to drown their food in sauce or gravy.
This took most of the day, but there were some intervals I sat down to read the daily newspaper, finish my coffee, eat a light lunch; we used a small amount of the meat and veggies for dinner.
When I got to church several oohed and aahed over the dish. I jokingly said if it was leftover, I saw a good start for beef stew. The entire church kitchen counters were covered with casseroles, salads, crock pots, and and two extra tables had drinks and desserts. I was overwhelmed with the turnout of both food and people.
We had a great time. When I went to get my dish to take home, shockingly it was washed clean. One of the ladies who heard my joke, said, ""I don't see much there for a start of beef stew!" So my cooking isn't poison I hope. Stay tuned for any fast-breaking news.
Also, there was very little leftovers for anyone to take home to my amazement. We are sure little piggies. I think gluttony is considered a tad on the lack of self-control side, but maybe there is an exemption for potlucks(?)!
Now I have written all this so I can show the photos I took of the dish, with and without flash. I have always been an advocate of "available" light photography, i.e., no flash basically. [Some of you have asked if I have used my new Nikon D5100--these two photos are #2 & #3. Just can't get everything done each day like I used to be able to do.]
I first became acquainted with available light concept in the days of film photography. Then the "speed" of a film was expressed as a number called ISO (won't go into what that stands for) but the high number ISO allowed camera settings which made decent pictures under less than ideal light conditions. Of course there were things called f-stops and shutter speeds involved, but I am talking about an average situation. In films very hi-speed produced grainy photos; in digital photography there are also drawbacks to extreme ISOs, too.
Average to me is in house with room lights like today, which was two overhead fluorescent fixtures. The dish was placed on a small stool so I could mainly have just the dish in the picture. Each picture tells how I took it.