I didn’t feeling like cooking on my birthday. When I’d booked the date with my mom, I thought it would be a fun thing to do, maybe even make it extra special. You know, when you complete a challenge, it can add to the merriment.
But I was feeling down on my 39th birthday. Some birthdays are harder than others.
I am aware that I’m still relatively young and that some of my best years are even ahead of me. Could my mood have been from the fact that it’s the last year of my 30s? This has been decade chock full of life-changing challenges, meaningful moments, and good ole FUN. I’ve seen my girls grow from toddlers to teens, we’ve had the privilege of working, living and travelling to different places around the world, we’ve met so many new, interesting people and deepened our old friendships… I want to stay here, please? 39 feels like an eviction notice.
Then there’s my vanity; the wrinkles, the age spots, the grey hairs just keep coming. Like Leiningen vs. the Ants.
But I donned my Pampered Chef apron, a birthday gift (among other fantastic kitchen gadgets) from my friend Chelsea, the tagline of which says, “discover the chef in you…” No way, right? It even ends with dot, dot, dot, which is totally where I’m at this year. Who KNOWS where this path leads.
Putting the apron on pushed me out of my pity party. There is much that lies ahead.
The good news was that my mom promised to make one of my favourite foods for this cooking lesson. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved her roasted rosemary potatoes.
Specific tastes have a way of transporting you back to a good memory, a younger memory. We’d be adding roast beef to that menu and “some veggies,” but my heart was set on those potatoes. Yes, this was something I wanted to learn because I enjoy them so much. Danger ahead.
You know what else? My mom is a lovely person to be around. She’s a cheerer-upper. She’s good at that. Maybe she didn’t want to cook on my birthday either, but you’d never know it. She was ready to go, although a little nervous about being on the record.
“Now are you recording?”
“Yes… just… be normal.”
“OK, I’m going to start with the roast. Because you’re such busy people, we’ll put it in the slow cooker. You know how in the olden days the mothers would put the roast in the oven before they went to church? And if the preacher was too long they’d be upset? Now you have the slow cooker! You can leave it in a little bit longer and it will still turn out.”
“It won’t burn.” Dad pipes up. I would soon learn that Dad plays an active role in the kitchen. Also, “not burning” is a good goal for cooking.
I plop the roast in the crock pot. Raw meat is icky. I hope I get over that squeamishness soon.
“Then we put a little bit of salt, a little bit of pepper.”
“May I suggest something first?” Dad pipes up. “A little bit of olive oil… and half a cup of wine. This is gourmet.”
You don’t go by a recipe?” I ask.
Mom replies, “No, it’s just all in my head–”
“–Well,” Dad interjects, “It’s YEARS of experience, Loreli. You get to know what works.”
Mom then spends some time consulting him on which spices we should put on the roast, which would require a “little bit of this” and “a pinch of that.” It was a bit of a blur in the beginning, pulling out and putting back ingredients.
Mom tells me to put the lid on the crock pot.
“But… um… do we want to add any spices?” I ask.
In that flurry of activity of suggestions and possibilities, the two of them were enjoying the idea of different spices on the roast, but none actually made it on. Mom had them neatly put away in her spice rack.
That was a recipe for hysterics, on high, for about 5-7 minutes.
See? A great cheerer-upper.
The roast beef recipe when finally decided and remembered by both Mom and Dad:
Outside Round Oven Roast
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup oil (or a swoop)
add crushed garlic
a little bit of basil
some oregano (or thyme)
how about some salt
definitely add pepper
sprinkle it with onion salt
Put the slow cooker for 4 hours on high.
Dad, satisfied that the roast would turn out, turns to leave the kitchen
“Do you always join forces when cooking?” I asks before he goes.
“Dad likes to spice things up.” Mom says.