Tuesday, December 27, 2011

#34 He Deals with Angry Cooking

Looking at the picture below, you might not believe when I tell you that just 20 minutes prior the scene of my stove top was quite different. Extremely different. It was much less serene, the calm glow of the snowman was not present, and most importantly, it was not at all a place of cleanliness.

(Please ignore the water burns that have not been cleaned for weeks....okay, months...)

After having not cooked for four, let's be honest, five days....I figured there was no escaping cooking dinner tonight. Therefore, I was going after a Pioneer Woman recipe that I had been avoiding for weeks due to the length of cook time: 3 1/2 hours.

Ah, Perfect Pot Roast, why must you take so dreadfully long to cook to perfection? Yes, that was the question that plagued my mind every time I thought about how delicious it would be to surprise my husband with a Perfect Pot Roast for supper.

But after days of feeding my face with Christmas cookies, chocolates, and fast food stops here and there, upon returning home from purchasing half-priced wrapping paper for next year, I rushed into my home, headed straight to the kitchen, pulled out the roast to dethaw, and began at it.

In all honesty, it was the simplest recipe possible. So, I truly cannot blame Pioneer Woman for my disastrously angry cooking behavior.

1) Heat oil until extremely hot (that sounds safe enough)
2a) Throw halved onions into the hot mess for a few minutes
2b) Take out onions without burning yourself
3a) Throw tons of carrots into the hot mess for a few minutes
3b) Take carrots out either by burning yourself because there are so many rolly pieces or by moving like a granny in order to not burn yourself. (One look at my singed right hand and I'm sure you know what choice I made).
4a) Take the three pound chuck roast and throw him into the oil.

4b) Oh yeah, then flip him over after a minute or two.

4c) Then take him out of the pot.

Okay, another burn on my wrist later and we're halfway there.

This is the point where my husband heard me screaming and saw the white clouds of flavored smells filling the entire first floor of our house. He came into the kitchen, opened the window, then looked at me and asked the dreaded question, "Is there anything I can do to help?"

I proceeded to give him a list of things clearly beyond his human capacity to accomplish. Things that involved going back in time, possessing magic powers, and being an all knowing being.

He did say 'anything'.

The next part of the recipe involved boiling beef stock, then throwing that fat bugger of a pot roast and his vegetable friends back into the pot, covering it all with more beef stock and putting it in the oven to cook for three hours.

(My pot roast waiting patiently to go in the oven).

This is when I realized I had no tin foil to cover the pot. Of course, I wouldn't be in this situation in the first place if I had a proper pot for oven cooking. But, after almost five years of marriage I still haven't become inspired enough to go out and buy a pot truly made, lid and all, for oven cooking.

Fortunately for my husband he was enraptured by 'Call of Duty'. (Occasionally, I do thank God for PS3 games). I'm sure all he heard me say, in my polite Alice in Wonderland type voice, was: "Oh dear, we are out of tin foil. Could you be a darling and run and get some when you have a minute?". When in reality it was much more like a senseless spew of screams much like that of Cruella DeVil when she yells out, "Get me those puppies!". Yet just instead of puppies it was tin foil.

He went out to Acme, I changed into clothes more suitable for angry cooking, and life was beautiful. The lesson? When you haven't cooked in days, don't rush into cooking...and go with cooking something that doesn't involve hot oil, a three pound hunk of beef, and tin foil.

Lucky for me, it came out deliciously. We were rolling out of our chairs when we finished.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

#33 He Loves Christmas for Me

My Top Ten List of Christmas Favorites

It's hard for me to put all my Christmas emotions into words that don't sound like a mushed jumble of children screaming and teenage girlishness. So, I've composed a top ten list of things that make my Christmas complete.


#1. Classic Christmas Movies.

There is something to be said for movies of the past. They just happen to be great. Greater than anything made today, in spite of all our fancy technology and capabilities. The movie industry just cannot seem to top classics like: "A Charlie Brown Christmas", "White Christmas", "A Christmas Carol", and of course, "It's a Wonderful Life". Christmas isn't complete without them. If you haven't seen any of those titles go buy them today and watch them before the Yuletide season is gone.

#2. Teacher Gifts.

Teachers can be big complainers. Last year, I got probably every complaining teacher's dream. For Christmas, the class all chipped in together to get me a gift card. I got one or two little presents, but that was it. And while I was stunned by and greatly appreciated the gift, at the end of the day I missed the wild assortment of typical teacher gifts. So, this year when I received a plethora of gifts of all shapes and sizes from my class, I was overcome with an abundance of joy and happiness that still hasn't gone away.

#3. Nostalgic Decorations

This is a sight that may not be seen for many more Christmases at my mother's house.

Stockings decorated in puffy paint, hand print ornaments, candy canes made into reindeer....bottle it all up. Store it away in your memory bank. Because this Christmas I was informed that when either one of my brothers or I have a baby, all the decorations with our names on them go out the window to be replaced by the grand kids.

I'm just not ready for that.

#4. Giving Gifts

I love to give. There is nothing quite as exciting on Christmas as watching the face of someone you love as they open a gift you know they are going to love. I'll tell you one thing I have grown to hate though. The dreaded Christmas list. I can't stand buying off a dull list. I try my best to find gifts that aren't of the ordinary. Gifts that really are the person I'm giving to, but aren't something they expected.

#5. Christmas Eve.

This is my mom's Christmas tree.

This is what it looks like on Christmas Eve night.

Christmas Eve night is my family's Christmas. That's right. We open every single present on Christmas Eve. It's pretty awesome. I've never known that experience most children have of waking up as early as possible Christmas morning to open presents.

Nope. I've slept in late and enjoyed knowing what my gifts were while the comfort of my bed surrounded me on Christmas morning.

Yes, I truly love my family's traditions.

#6. Revisiting Old Talents

Another tradition of Christmas Eve that I love is shared with my younger brother, Joel. Usually last minute, we throw together a fun variety show to perform for my family on Christmas Eve (before we open our presents). It's just feel good fun that makes Christmas more than just eating and opening gifts. This year, we sang a Frank and Nancy Sinatra song as part of our program. This entailed me picking up my guitar, which I haven't played in ten years, and making it work as our accompaniment.

My finger tips were yelling at me before the night was over.

#7. Christmas Cookies.

What makes a Christmas cookie a Christmas cookie? That it's made at Christmas? I'm not sure, but there is something delightful about Christmas cookies. Even the ones that are dry and taste like cardboard. They decorate a table just like ornaments decorate a Christmas tree. They are a conversation starter and a glimpse into different people's traditions. My husband had me participate in a cookie exchange at his work this year. The above picture was the turnout from the other participants. Not a single duplicate cookie.

#8. Homemade Gifts.

I'm not sure if there is anything that spells love better than a gift that took time, thought, and talent. You can't get a homemade gift off a list, you can't get free shipping on a homemade gift, and you certainly can't just go to the nearest mall for it. The greatest part is that if the receiver is a kindred spirit, you have just warmed their heart with your efforts. Sadly, there are those who will not recognize a homemade gift for it's worth, but me, I treasure them.

#9. My Kissing Ball.

My husband hates Christmas decorating. Hates it. With a passion. Now, he isn't such a Grinch that he won't help me at all. He will help me carry the boxes down from the attic, and he will put the lights on the tree, but that's it.

However, this kissing ball was one decoration that he bought years ago with a passionate "I have to have this" look about him.

And so, I love it too.

#10. The Savior of the World is Here.

Are any more words necessary?

I will just say, Christmas songs are a great way to remind us of this. My favorite is "O Holy Night", specifically this part:

"Fall on your knees,
Oh hear the angel voices,
Oh night, divine,
Oh night, when Christ was born"

Merry Christmas one and all!