It’s quarter to three,
There’s no one in the place cept you and me
So set em up joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know
The above is my statement on turning the clocks back. Springing ahead works for me, but the fall change always throws me off my feed. Last night my eyelids refused to remain shut. I counted sheep, repeated the number 1 a thousand times, then counted backwards from 200 by 3’s for an hour until finally I gave up, and got up. In doing so, Boo, the Queen of Cats, was prematurely disturbed from her “catnap” in her new bed. Mostly, I believe more out of her insatiable curiosity rather than a sense of comradery, she deigned to accompany me for a middle of the night cup of coffee and a bit of writing. Boo is my worst critic, naturally resenting any of my time not devoted meeting her every need, including my time spent on the keyboard. Not at all shy about showing her displeasure, she ranges from presenting her hindquarters for my inspection while I’m trying to type or taking a nip at my moving fingers if all else fails. Cats and cockroaches, truly, rule the world. I read somewhere that if a nuclear holocaust occurred cats would do very well and I do not doubt that for one moment. Most certainly they would dine on those who had fed them, and if my two are evidence of the average cat’s disposition they should be found high on the pecking order of those remaining in the animal kingdom.
Although there isn’t much going on at 3 a.m., I occasionally like being up in the middle of the night. No phones ringing, stores and banks closed, as is my kitchen, and the couch with its inviting big puffy pillows and the trio of remotes are mine, all mine. With all this power at my fingertips you’d think I could find one thing I want to watch. Infomercials fill the lines on the program guide, alongside reruns of Roseanne. We’ve cut our premium channels down to the bone because; a) they’re expensive, and b) there’s nothing on them we want to watch. My other half is taping his usual million soccer games that populate our DVR. Click, on to something more interesting.
It’s strange to think of life without television, although truthfully I never sit down and watch it for long. For me, it’s like background noise. I often think of the gadgets and electronics we take for granted that generations preceding us would have stared at in gape mouthed wonder. I can recall back when the first microwaves came out. Expensive and cumbersome, they were a miracle of modern technology. Once the price dropped to a reasonable amount, one came to live at my house. Having not one single idea of the workings of such a device and faced with a large instruction manual, decided to start with a hot dog. It said 40 seconds on high, but that didn’t seem like enough time. Obviously knowing far more than the manufacturer I decided to heat the bun and the dog at the same time, and programmed the timer for 2 minutes on high. After I removed it from the oven I was afraid to throw it in the trash lest somebody find it and use it as a bludgeoning tool in a homicide. Bun and dog were fused and as one would mulch together in the landfill from that moment on. Next I tried oregano chicken. This dish came out of the microwave as alabaster in color cooked as when raw, except for addition of the sickening green hue contributed by the oregano. My children still refer to this as the “infamous green chicken debacle of ’78”. For many years following, “reheat” and “timer” were the only buttons showing any wear.
After my mother passed the spoon to me in my thirties, Thanksgiving was hosted at my house. Three years ago was the last time. That year, twenty people arriving expecting to be fed and my two kitchen separated by a floor between them, I decided either I don my Nike’s and marathon tee-shirt and hit the stairs running, or cook what I could ahead and utilize the microwave to reheat. Genius. Unfortunately, one hour before the first hit on the doorbell my old microwave raised the white flag and admitted defeat. What! I got so desperate I began to eye the barbecue as a tool for warming my potatoes. God bless good old Home Depot, they were open on limited hours so my other half pulled on his cape and his shirt with the big red “S” and in the blink of an eye reappeared with a new microwave and saved the day. Life was good.
This year we are on our own as everyone is scattering like ants on a hot grill. In a way, the idea of kicking back and avoiding traffic and the usual mixed bag of family issues often included in holiday gatherings will make for a nice, quiet day with a small turkey and all the trimmings filling the house with delicious smells. My heart will miss all my beloved family members, but several days after we’re heading down to my Mom’s to another turkey day with them, so in the end the calories will just keep on coming.
This meat was so delicious and so much better than stew meat. As this cut is ideal for stews or stir fry, I froze the remainder for the next time I take out my wok. My other half is not fond of brussel sprouts, but ate every one of them in this dish.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 lbs. sirloin tip roast, cubed
2 onions, cubed
1 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
3 carrots, cut in chunks
2 celery stalks, sliced in 1″ slices
3 large russet potatoes, large cubed
1 zucchini, cut in 1/2″ slices
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
12 green beans, halved
4 cups beef broth
1/4 red wine
1 1/2 cups prepared au jus
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. beef bouillon crystals
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 15 1/2 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 Tbsp. Paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chunky salsa (I used hot)
1 pkg. brown gravy mix
Mix together flour, 1/2 tsp, black pepper, and 1 tsp. salt in medium mixing bowl. Dredge meat thoroughly in flour. Heat oil to shimmering in large saucepan. Brown meat well on all sides.
Spray 6 quart crockpot with cooking spray. Add browned meat to bottom of pot. Top with chopped vegetables. Mix remaining ingredients together through paprika.
Cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking for 8 hours. Add red pepper flakes, chunky salsa and brown gravy mix. Whisk to blend. Increase heat to high and continue cooking for 1 hour.