Starved for Thyme

I had to squeeze in this meal Monday night, before I left for Mississauga for a two-day work project, and before I was scheduled to have my next lesson (yesterday)!

I was so thankful that John-Mark had the main ingredients. He had been “saving” a roast in the freezer, which makes it sound like it was waiting for just the right moment.  My moment.

I did have to run to the grocery store to buy the spices, of which we had just a few.  I was SHOCKED at the cost when all the spices were added up. Rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, garlic salt, onion salt, and “Italian” all came to almost $50.  Someone please tell me this is an investment in spice stock, because that’s what I told myself and I do not wish to be found a liar.


What makes Italian spice Italian?

When I got home, I frantically – yes, that is the word for it – put the roast in the crock pot.  I swooped oil, glugged wine (on the roast!), swished, sprinkled and pinched spices as per my mom’s original non-recipe.  I second-guessed myself momentarily, ran upstairs to ask her about amounts, at which time Mom and Dad both suggested alternate ideas and options for a roast that I didn’t have time to hear.  “Thanks , but no thanks,” I did not say within earshot as I ran back downstairs.

Hey, here’s a tip from my mom that I failed to share in my last post, but is a valuable one.  She said that you can put a piece of bread on your tongue while you cut your onions to keep them from stinging your eyes. She learned it from the elderly women in her church when she was a young woman.  She used to cook with the ladies at church functions and learned a lot of tips and tricks that way.  She then passed the tip on to me while pushing a piece of bread in my mouth, so I was compelled to try it.  And it worked!   It is very hard, however, to resist both the instinct to chew or the desire to talk.  If you can, you will be tear-free.

I decided not to do veggies separately.  I threw the carrots right in there with the onions and all that meat juice because  I’ve seen people do this before.  I’ve eaten meat juice carrots before and quite enjoyed them, even if they weren’t cut into coin shapes.

I had an appointment to get to, so I turned on the crockpot to the “4 hour” mark and ran out the door.

Three hours later I returned from my running around, walked into a yummy warmy beef smell and was instantly in a chill mood to prepare the potatoes and the table.   The potatoes were a cinch, once they were cut up.  I had fun with the spices again, although mentally counting the cost of each dash of Rosemary (that’s $2).

What I took from my lesson with Mom was the importance of thinking through the table setting.  It’s best done when you have the one(s) who will be eating in mind.  I put on a tablecloth – which we never use –  and looked for dishes with sentimental value, just like Mom. Perhaps we could include these momentos in our conversation over the meal, again, just like Mom.

I searched high and low and found nothing.  Really?  Really. I actually don’t own anything that belongs to grandmas, aunts, uncles, sisters, friends.  But I found these:


We bought this sweet tea light holder at a garage sale for 25 cents this summer.  Remember that deal of the day, family?


My mother-in-law bought this tea towel for us because, as she believes, her son and his wife like “hideous” retro decor and this fits the category.


This bread basket was actually a wedding gift from a friend.  When we moved to Africa, we sold/gave away everything but our living room furniture, our books, and this bread basket.  I don’t know why this made the cut, but we do use it a lot.


Here’s something, “Grandma made these napkins from batik we brought home from Africa!”  The plates, the cups, the cutlery?  Garage sales.

Still, I was cultivating an ambience.  I was thinking about the people, my family, who would enjoy this meal.  I thought about getting this ready for them.  I was thinking about how I wanted the cares they might bring home to melt away when they walked through the door and smelled the roast beef dinner and saw the table set and candle glowing.  This would remove any tensions, it would enhance our conversation.  Yes, this is what Mom would do.

Except the last minute “rush” of getting all the dishes onto the table “hot and ready” as they say, the calm was interrupted when I realized I hadn’t made gravy.  That because I still don’t know how.  I enlisted J-M to look up an internet recipe, quick, quick.  We produced a floury meat paste, decided against it and settle for meat juice instead, all while the roast was still steaming.

Someone has to teach me to make gravy, BTW!


Look at that roast!  Look at those potatoes!  Served on, you guessed it, garage sale dishware!

I had to eat and run.  I had a meeting at the church.  Most meals are rushed these days because it’s the cray cray season of fall, when all activities ever are booked at the same time.  The season we want most to enjoy seems to get whisked away… just like my meal.

So is this cooking for special occasions only?  Or is it a lifestyle change?  I’ll have to think about that later – I’ve got to run to another appointment!

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16 thoughts on “Starved for Thyme

  1. Lori, I felt my breathing slow and life literally go into slo-mo as you described the setting of the table for your family. I love fussing over a table with those partaking in mind…I think I learned that from Grama Aldom. And as you rushed off to your meeting at the end, I felt that too…but with sadness…life gets so busy…glad you took the time to make your meal special:)

  2. A quick word on spices….buy them at no Frills, or a similar place in resealable bags. They are about a 1/3 of the price as the ones in little glass jars. Less weight to ship a small baggy than a glass bottle I’m guessing! Dinner looks good. Greg and I are available almost anytime for tasting. :)

    • Thanks Heather! I did buy a couple bags… but nothing to keep them in and they’re surprisingly tough to reseal. Hey, can you answer what spices are in “Italian?”

  3. The dinner looks awesome! I totally cracked up laughing when you mentioned about the tea towel… I possibly could have been there when it was purchased! lol. I love the bird candle. It’s retroish yet it would fit in with any decor… just because it’s a cute bird… and who doesn’t like birds. You’re doing great… keep it up! (I’m beginning to feel left behind tho. :-( )

  4. You did such a good job on this! It all looks so lovely, I’m sad you had to eat and run. That looks like the kind of meal that would be nice to enjoy a hot cup of tea and some lingering conversation.

  5. My bff from my childhood had those plates! Love the Cardinal, that’s our school mascot, nothing fiercer or more intimidating to opposing teams…

  6. Pingback: It’s All Gravy – Part II « Based on a True Story

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