Deb says she’s not so laid back. Deb says ask her husband, Mike, and also “come with me when I’m trying to catch a plane and running late!” And also, when she’s being robbed at gun point I’m sure.
She also may not be so chill around pastries. She says they scare her because they’re so finicky. It’s her theory that people either have a knack for pastries or they don’t. She says the same may be true for gravy, for which she has a knack.
I had previously tried to make gravy when following my mom’s roast recipe back in the fall, but had no success. Unless gravy is supposed to hold its own shape.
Deb was making her family a Christmas Eve pot roast dinner during our lesson, so we used it to demonstrate the same method you would use for any meat juice – beef, turkey or otherwise.
Are you ready?
Remove the roast and pour the drippings through a sieve into a pot.
The photo above is actually slightly deceptive because Deb removed that pot from the element in order to complete the first step. This, I learned is a very important piece.
Next we added flour, which Deb eyeballed, but it turned out to be approx. 3/4 cup, to the drippings.
Then Deb used a whisk to mix the flour and drippings together.
I learned that you don’t stir gravy with a whisk like you would stir soup with a wooden spoon. You add pressure to it, against the pot, and elbow grease, to really blend the ingredients. So far, all my teachers have had first-hand experience of my wimpiness. So far, all my teachers have reached in and grabbed the utensil(s) to take over. Even the laid-back ones.
Here’s more on that important tip: if you add the flour to the pot and the element is on, it will have the effect of “baking” the flour and making it lumpy. Whisk it thoroughly first to blend the ingredients and then add it to the heat. Add beef stock. You can also add water to thin it out, as needed, to your desired consistency.
That’s it? Yes, that is it.
But don’t forget the knack! We’ll see if I’ve got one when I try this on my own.
The Cranberry Sauce
But we weren’t finished. Cranberries are a must-have at any turkey dinner. No need to buy cranberry sauce from the can when it is so easy to make on your own and, as Deb says, “has a high potluck factor. When you show up with home-made cranberry sauce, people are always impressed.”
3 c. fresh or frozen cranberries (not dried)
1 c. sugar
1 c. water (or substitute with orange juice)
In saucepan, mix sugar and water over heat
Boil for 5 minutes
Add cranberries and boil gently till skin pops (about 5 min.)
Remove from heat
You should have seen Kelsey and I waiting to see what popping cranberry skin looked/sounded like. Making cranberry sauce is high on the fun factor too.
Serve warm or refrigerate. Again, that’s it.
Obviously, creativity is part of Deb’s joy of cooking. While we were preparing each dish, she would wonder out loud what it might be like to add this or that ingredient. She doesn’t often go by a recipe, or if she does, she doesn’t follow it to the letter. She just likes to play around with different ingredients to see what works. For example, she almost added a tropical punch to the cranberry sauce, but decided against it at the last minute.
She has learned to cook completely by trial and error. She didn’t have anyone show her, she just started cooking when she met her husband, Mike. “Mike is a great to cook for; he’ll eat anything!”
While she loves to putter and create in the kitchen, what can get her discouraged is the daily question, “What’s for dinner?” She hates being rushed with no time to put in the creative energy that makes cooking joyful. She says it would be like asking an artist to “Draw! Just draw something amazing right now and every day!”
She loves holiday meals like Thanksgiving, birthdays and Christmas. The joy is also found in the end result where friends are gathered together around a meal. This is why she jumped at the chance to be a part of the Christmas meal at the church. Meals are for sharing and what better way to spend Christmas. She would normally have a gaggle of people over to her house anyway.
Our gravy would be eaten by the Jensen clan with the Christmas Eve Roast Beast. The cranberry and stuffing would make it to Christmas dinner the following day. I’d have to wait and see how the stuffing turned out.
To be continued…
Just had to put this cute pic of Deb and her doggie, Bella. This is often the other bum in her two-bum kitchen.