I’m not sure I’ve blogged since we discovered the wonderful wonderful world of Jamie Oliver. It’s like he knew just what we were wanting to do with our diets and wrote his cook books just for us! Over the past few years (pregnancy has kind of muddled my sense of time, but I know it’s been a while) we’ve been making the effort to eat better. I know, who isn’t these days? We tried a few defined diets like paleo and we’ve read different things here and there. Ultimately we’ve carved out our own general rules for what we would like for ourselves and our children to eat:
- Real Food- this is something we’ve held to since the beginning of our marriage, if not before. No fake stuff (read:margarine) and no pre-packaged boxed stuff (read:hamburger helper). For the most part we’ve done well with this. With the need and desire for convenience foods with back to back pregnancies, however, we’ve slipped into boxed mac and cheese bliss. We’re slowly working our way out.
- Vegetables >Protein> Carbohydrates-we tried cutting carbs all together eating mostly vegetables, but always always found ourselves hungry again within a short amount of time. Funny thing, vegetables are mostly water. Oops. But we knew we didn’t want rice or potatoes, pasta or bread (our favorites) to make up the majority of our meal, but we also know we need them. So we’ve worked out a balance of including some carbohydrates, mostly whole grains, to ground our meal, but having most of our plate filled with vegetables and protein.
- Ethics-This is one we are constantly going back and forth on. What is more important: that an animal is raised locally and humanely, or fed organic food? Is a local ear of in-season corn healthier than an organic one from California? Do we really need to pay that much for carrots? We are striving to balance ethics and budget but it is difficult because apparently you can’t just buy food, you have to consider what your money is going to support–big business, local farmers, preservatives etc. Oh the anguish of choosing eggs! We are looking to grow more of our own foods, but more on that at a later date.
Jamie Oliver’s mission statement lines up well with what we want to do. His Food Revolution is about simple meals made
with whole ingredients. Perfect! We’ve been cooking from this cook book for a while now and it’s made better cooks out of us all. Last night for my first postpartum real meal, I made his Family Pot Roast and Consistently Good Gravy. So so simple and delicious.
I had been struggling and failing to make a good roast in the crock pot. My problem was always that the roast wouldn’t cook in the middle. I cut his recipe in half and use a 1 1/2-2 pound roast. All you do is roughly chop un-pealed onions, carrots, celery and garlic and throw in some rosemary (or herb of choice… that sounded sketchier than I intended) in an appropriate sized roasting pan. With my 2 pound roast, I use an 8×8 pyrex dish. Drizzle olive oil over the veggies. All he says to prep the meat is drizzle with olive oil and pat in salt and pepper. Place the roast on top of the veggies. He says to heat the oven to a full 475 degrees, then once pre-heated, put the roast in and drop the heat to 400 and cook for approximately an hour. Through trial and error, I’ve found that I need to cook mine for one hour and ten minutes.
Once the meat is cooked, he says to put it on a pan and let it rest under tin foil and a kitchen towel for about fifteen minutes. He doesn’t specify, but again trial and a very messy error taught me to use a baking pan with a lip rather than a flat chopping board. While the meat rests a lot of the juices run out which you can then pour back over the meat or add into your gravy. Either way…it gets messy if the roast is just on a flat board. Oops.
The gravy is simple, but does take me longer than he estimates. Once the meat is out of the roasting pan, he says to put the pan with all the veggies on the stove and add flour. Once everything is coated with flour, use a potato masher to mash all the veggies into a pulp. Add a little wine and meat or veggie stock and simmer until thick. Once it’s to your desired consistency or you’re tired of smelling food you can’t eat yet, strain out the gravy and discard the veggie pulp. With the herbs and wine, the gravy ends up with a earthy flavor that is so delicious.
I’ve made this roast and gravy a few times now and each time it’s turned out just like he said it would! Which is really saying something because my cooking is anything but reliable. Last night we added mashed potatoes and sauteed squash and zucchini. Our house rejoices with a combined voice to heaven when squash and zucchini come into season. We went an entire summer eating them with every lunch and dinner. Ok we were super poor and they were oh so cheap, but still. It was a delicious meal which stretched into at least another 2 meals. Ryan took some to work today and said the gravy was even better after sitting over night.
So there you go, we’re starting to cook again and we love Jamie Oliver. Oh and this is why blogging is going to require a lot of motivation and timing.