02 January 2011

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2011! I hope everyone had the New Year's festivities they wanted to have. It seemed like a lot of people here just wanted some quiet. We usually have a big party with the family, but, due to illness, ended up having a nice dinner at a cute little restaurant by the house to celebrate the evening and Left-brain's birthday. It was a really fun, romantic evening, and I was asleep by 10:30.

Yesterday, I hosted my first major dinner party for New Years' Day. I had this brilliant idea that I could handle cooking pork roast, which I've never cooked before, and make mashed potatoes for my very picky family. And do all the sides. I don't have a very good track record at picking meat, unless I was picking meat for barbecue, because I can pick meat that needs slow cooking to get rid of the toughness. My mother solved this by purchasing a cut of meat that I can only describe as being roughly the shape and length of a bolster pillow, and entrusting it to me. My father said, "You're gonna want to cut that in half". Yeah . . . that roll of meat was not going to fit in my roaster. After some mumbled cooking directions, I was sent merrily off to get the rest of the fixin's. I came home with a bag of marble-sized red potatoes, some sorry looking cucumbers, a pack of white Wonderbread (we eat wheat in our house, but Mom likes white, and there is something about buttermilk Wonderbread spread thickly with butter that speaks of holiday indulgence) and a pack of clearanced-out candy canes. I could not find a punch block (do they even make those?), so had to buy some berry sherbet and 7-Up. Much tastier!

Cooking all that was an adventure; I was so worried that it was not going to turn out right. I think there were some details missing in the cooking instructions given . No one told me whether or not I was supposed to put anything in with the roast while it was cooking, like something to keep it from sticking to the pan, so I called up my mom, who was not home, then called up Left-brain's mom, who said nope. I trusted her, threw some salt and pepper on my pork bolster and let it cook. Left-brain left it all up to me, because he didn't know how to make the stuff we were having, but he did help me put sauerkraut around the roast when it was time. My mom had to make the dressing for the creamed cucumbers--"glugs" of this and "til it tastes you good" are not adequate units of measure. Apparently, "til it tastes you good" in my mom's recipe means a little less than 3/4 cup of sugar.

Everything turned out really well. I was delighted. It was a nice meal, if I do say so myself. Good conversation. Laughter. Sharing memories. We surprised Left-brain with a birthday cake; granted, it was from the same bakery that botched our wedding cake, but they do better decorating birthday cakes than wedding cakes, and I was happy. It was all the things I wanted it to be. We even have some good leftovers.

I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to start my first project for the Crazy January Challenge, but I did find a few minutes to make a start. It's a start, even if it's just 20 stitches, right? I put it away for now, and am going to start my Day 2 project, Official Snow Guide, shortly. I will have pictures of both to share tomorrow (I'm not near my camera today). Crossing fingers!

1 comment:

riona said...

You should trust your kitchen instincts a little more ... but just for future reference, here's a tip from the Joy of Cooking ... to keep a roast [any kind: beef, pork, whole chicken or turkey] nice and juicy, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F, then lower the temp to the recommended cooking temp when you put the roast in. The initial higher temp sears all the juices inside. This trick usually reduced cooking time by about 5-10 minutes per pound, so use a meat thermometer to test for doneness instead of relying on timing.

Good luck on your Crazy Challenge ... I didn't get a lot done on my day one piece either but did better on day two.

I'll be watching your blog for photos.

I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped--Frederick Perls