Sunday, December 19, 2010
A Warm Inviting Kitchen Day
We have been having rare weather for Florida; days and days of freezing cold and drizzling rain. Today I spent most of the day either cuddled in bed reading or cooking in my warm, cozy kitchen. In fact, the only room in the house that was at all warm today is the kitchen. This older Florida home is not designed for cold temperatures.
It started with a hankering for my grandmother's pot roast. So, late in the morning, I began cooking and the more I cooked the warmer the room became. I was transported to my grandma's kitchen with it's big kitchen table, large stove and a refrigerator that looked strangely just like my grandpa's green, highly chromed Buick. The kitchen was the center of the household; everything of real importance took place there. Everyone wanted to be there.
Today I wished that I had a big table and chairs or even one comfortable chair in my kitchen. I would have cooked and rested; maybe taking a little nap while good smells filled the air.
I understand why the kitchen hearth is always intimately discussed in the books I read about Colonial America (read anything by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich) and is portrayed in quilts as a red or yellow central square surrounded by scraps of fabric depicting the logs of the cabin. It was a place to nurture life.
Now for a more practical matter; grandma's pot roast recipe: Salt, pepper and lightly flour a chuck roast. Brown it in oil, then transfer it to a cast iron pot/dutch oven. Brown a sliced onion, carrots and potatoes; place them around the roast. Pour three cups of beef broth and one cup of red wine over the roast. Bring to a boil on the stove top, cover with heavy lid, then place in a 250 degree F oven for four hours or longer. When done take out of the oven, place meat and vegetables on a plate, cover to keep warm. Bring juices in pot to a boil, then thicken with a rue (mixture of fat and flour). Let the gravy boil until it is the right thickness and salt to taste. Serve meat and vegetable in a deep bowl, covered with gravy. Remember they didn't have or use garlic. The only spices they used were for baking. If you tasted spices on meat it meant that it must have been gamey before they cooked it.
Revel in your memories. Perfect for cold days.