Monday, June 03, 2013

The roast dinner challenge

My roast dinner
©Eventful Woman
I'm what's called 'an eater'. I've always been motivated by food and I can usually  get anyone to make a fabulous dinner for me, simply by being a genuinely appreciative eater.  All good cooks need great fans and I like to think this gives me a real purpose in life.

As a born and bred New Zealander I was brought up on roasts with lashings of gravy. I would mound my plate high and happily devour the lot, including crunching on any pork crackling. I was one of five children and my mother said she'd never seen a child eat everything with such finger-licking enjoyment.  Even the vegetables would be shovelled down with enthusiasm.

I was eventful right from my early days, with food fuelling my adventures and also acting as a homing beacon. No matter how far I roamed the scent of a good roast dinner would bring me running back to the table.

Until recently, I harboured a secret. I had never made a roast dinner. Well, why bother I thought, when I could just talk my way into eating them? If I kept on having adventures, then maybe my tales of 'derring do' would sufficiently entertain to keep the invitations coming. However, I could hardly 'buckle my swash' if word got about that a so-called Eventful Woman didn't know how to make a momentous roast dinner and was terrified at the thought of it. Domesticity is not my scene.

A good friend decided to take me in hand and protect my reputation. She promised to stand alongside of me, provide step-by-step instructions and would fortify me with wine along the way.  The company of a friend, wine and a roast lamb dinner was an unbeatable offer.


Coating the meat ©Eventful Woman
We started with her special coating. Not quite the '11 herbs and spices' from another famous recipe but the ingredients included oil, lemon juice, garlic, soya sauce, mint, rosemary. These were mixed together and then slathered over the leg of lamb.

The meat was placed reverently into the oven and we started on the veges. Far from being the No. 1 chef in this kitchen, I was relegated to galley slave and had to peel my way through several potatoes, kumara (sweet potato) and a pumpkin.

It wasn't until I had basted the meat a few times and had started to roast the potatoes in the electric fry pan that I was promoted to second chef. This meant that I was allowed my first glass of wine.

Making progress ©Eventful Woman
Several basting sessions later (of both the chefs and the roast), the meat was pulled out of the oven and set aside to rest. No rest for me though. I was given the task for gravy making, supervised by the No.1 chef. The gravy was made like our mothers had done for years, using the fats and crispy meaty bits in the bottom of the roasting plan and adding a paste of cornflour and water. The aroma was divine.

While broccoli was spinning in the microwave, I was finally promoted to No.1 chef and allowed to carve the meat. This involved one slice for the plate and one for me. The supervising chef worried that there wouldn't be enough meat for the diners, and I was demoted to waitress - only allowed to carry plates to the table but NOT eat as I went. Spoil sport!

At last all was ready on the table. TH (the husband) was summoned and told to clap appreciatively.  I thought he was a bit half-hearted compared with my genuine applause whenever I'm presented with a tasty meal.

Then we settled to the really serious task of eating. Tasty, juicy slices of roast lamb, a mound of roast and green veges and a river of gravy. YUM!

YUMMY ©Eventful Woman
It is always satisfying to achieve anything, but particularly when it is something that you've been putting off or has grown into a challenge.

My friend and No.1 chef provided me with written instructions and I'll be able to repeat my 'feat' again. A roast dinner will be just perfect for winter evenings at home with TH, in front of a blazing fire. Hopefully, the blaze won't be from the whole kitchen going up in smoke.



Saturday, June 01, 2013

What are your top 10 challenges?

Rock climbing in Zell-an-der-Mosel, Germany
We've all got things we want to do, right? But, do these really challenge us? It's great to have fun and a laugh - life has to be enjoyable. But, we should also take on challenges that draw us out of our comfort zone. We can all learn a lot from personal challenges, not the least of which is that satisfying feeling of achieving something hard and not letting it beat us.

I like adventurous activities like climbing rock faces or swimming with sharks. Many of my stunts are challenging but, because I like to take on 'dare-devil' stuff, I don't have to push myself too hard from of my comfort zone in order to complete them.

With my commitment to having an eventful life, I've decided to push myself out of a comfort zone that might surprise you - domesticity. While I'll happily take on 'heady heights' or sharks in the depths of the sea, the kitchen bench can hold terrors for me.  Yes, I can slap together a decent meal, I don't push myself to do more. 

So, tomorrow, I am taking on a personal challenge - cooking a roast dinner. Although I LOVE eating roast dinners, I have never stirred myself to make one. Yes, I know, to many of you this sounds boring and probably something you could do with your eyes shut. But, a challenge should be exactly that to the person involved. And, cooking a roast dinner will push me hard.  It is actually No.10 on my list of personal challenges to overcome.  I have already knocked off No. 4 (learn to surf) and No. 5 (learn to tap dance).  I'm still to take on the flying trapeze and performing as a stand-up comedian.  However, neither of those fill me with as much dread as learning to cook.

I have been promised I will also learn how to make 'the best ever' roast potatoes and also an amazing chocolate pudding.

Watch this space!