Monday, January 30, 2012

YEAH! SOMETIMES I DO COOK...

Room Avalable Light (2 overhead fluorescent light fixtures); actually the stool holding the dish was not directly under lights but off to one side of  the main source of light. Might be a little brighterhad I chosen to be right under lights, but was afraid of shadows as I was standing above the dish with camera.
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)
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.

Dish/stool not moved but flashed turned on. Truthfully I would have preferred something in between the two photos, but if I have to choose between the two I would choose the first. However each has its virtues. at least there is no "flash burn in this phot Both would easily be fixed with Photoshop Elements  or other photo editing program--not even a complicated program. I don't see as much detail in this photo myself.
SOOC (Straight Out of Camera)

P.S. Some of the higher end, but smaller digital cameras have the capability to turn flash off and on in their menus.

PHOTOS: by NitWit1 unless otherwise attributed.

7 comments:

Lorna said...

That is definitely cooking! I always get anxious around pot luck events, but I can imagine that if I had a dish that looked like that, I could hold up my head. My potluck dishes always taste good, but look uninspiring. I try to have a ringer in the crowd to say, " who made this great potato dish?"...

NitWit1 said...

I failed to add the disadvantage of "available light" is any given light has a "color cast." in the above 'available light' photo there is a slight cyan/green cast from the type of flourescents in the room. The flash on does not show that cast.

There is a white balance setting to overcome this to some extent which I have yet to set on the camera.

BTW There are several kinds of flourescent lights too. You may have noticed if you ever buy them there are 'warm', 'cool' or 'work'--same for light buibs. Take a piece of clothing from room to room and notice, particularly blacks and dark navy blue.

Sunlight at high noon is the best I can do to distinguish blark/navy blue and I have had my cataracts removed!

Arkansas Patti said...

Sure looks like great cooking to me. Now darn it, I have to go eat breakfast. You really made me hungry.

rosaria said...

Major cooking in my book!
It looks delicious. Too bad you had no leftovers.
As far as lighting for the shoot, I have no idea what you are talking about. Yes, I can see the difference, but we know this is not a professional shoot!

CHERI said...

Well, that looks yummy! It's always interesting to me to see how people from different areas of the US cook and eat so differently. Tonight we had fried quail (which hubby killed on a hunting trip), cheese grits, and homemade biscuits. Now that's some good southern fare!

faye said...

That was a lot of preparation and cooking on your part..the results look delicious... I make a pot roast about once every two months...Bob iand I are total opposites when it comes to food..he won't eat anything green,yellow or orange....and I love salads, broccoli and greens.

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

OH my gosh now I am really hungry. Dang you can COOK! hahaha
I will be right over.
Great post and I am happy for the couple who are going to share their life together.
Thanks for sharing this now I am wishing for a roast in my freezer
Love ya
Maggie