Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bonne Saint-Valentin

This year, Valentine's Day did not fall on a school day.  However, my 7th graders didn't seem to mind celebrating on the Friday before.  AER sacrificed her pretty M&M's in the name of art.  CB and AS made designs and asked me to take a photo.  They have all caught on to my penchant for photographing edibles.  

Next came a heart.  A little more challenging, but quite lovely, I think.  (AER did eat them when we had finished shaping and photographing.)

CL made beautiful cupcakes to share with her fellow advisees.  They were very good!  All homemade, too!  Middle schoolers are much happier when they've been fed treats, whether it's a holiday or not.
At my house, Valentine's Day 2010 passed quietly.  The un-ex and I dragged high school son out of bed to have breakfast with us.   He wasn't too grumpy about it.  (He had a good week- his team won three basketball games and he got his SAT scores.)  We should've stayed home because both really good breakfast places we tried (Rick's Diner and Elmo's) had long lines.  We finally settled for egg biscuits.  
The un-ex wrote me a poem and gave me lavender scented candles.  I burned one while sitting at the kitchen table doing my Sunday homework in order to be ready to hit the ground running Monday morning.  He got a bag of 760 Tootsie rolls.  He loves those things -- at least I think he still does... he might not by the time he finishes the bag!
College son texted that he actually tried red wine at Olive Garden tonight.  He knew I would be proud that he had finally tried it.  He has no idea what it was, but it wasn't bad, he said/wrote.
I pulled Mildred the Mixer out of her cozy cabinet and made banana bread.  It is baking at this very minute, smelling heavenly.  I baked up a few crescent roll pains au chocolat for school tomorrow.  They may not last that long, though, because high school son has already eaten one.  He is known to scrounge around in the kitchen after we have gone to bed.  I hear him foraging sometimes.  Heaven knows he needs to find about 25 pounds to add to his tall skinny frame.  His girlfriend made brownies for him so the pains au chocolat might actually be safe.  She makes excellent brownies.
One of my grandfather's spécialités was beef pot roast.  I wish that I'd paid more attention while sitting in the kitchen watching him work.  I just loved the smell and being in the same room as him.  Since I cannot ask him for his seasoning secret, I've had to come up with my own.  He always shredded the meat before serving so I do, too.  I usually put it in the crock pot and let it cook all afternoon.  Oui, more wonderful smells.

Beef Pot Roast

1  2 1/2 - 3 lb. boneless beef chuck pot roast
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. good, dry red wine, optional
1Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. instant beef bouillon granules
1 tsp. dried basil, crushed
1/2 tsp. salt
12 oz. tiny new potatoes or 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. carrots or 6 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small onions, cut into wedges
2 stalks celery, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
(Adjust vegetables according to your eaters and their preferences- mine like potatoes more than carrots so I add more of them and less carrots. Sometimes I throw in peas near the end of the cooking time.)

Stove top directions:
Trim fat from meat.  In a 4- 6 quart Dutch oven brown meat on all sides in hot oil.  Drain off fat. Combine the 3/4 c. water, wine, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, basil and salt.  Pour over roast.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, if using new potatoes, peel a strip of skin from the center of each.  Add vegetables to meat and return to boiling.  Simmer, covered, for 45-60 minutes more or until tender, adding more water if necessary.  Adjust seasonings, if necessary.

Crock pot directions:  
Trim fat from meat.  Assemble vegetables and place in a 4-5 quart crock pot.  Cut roast to fit; place on top of vegetables.  Combine the water, wine, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon granules, basil and salt.  Add to crock pot.  Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10-12 hours or on high-heat setting for 4-5 hours. 

Bon appétit, Saint Valentin!

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