Basic Pot Roast
When life is totally upside down there is nothing quite like comfort food to stop the chaos for a few moments and make everything feel almost normal. This past week we moved back into our home to ‘camp out’ until the water rises or goes away. Almost all of our belongings are still scattered to the wind, boxed up and safely stored until fall. We have a few camp chairs, a card table, our bed and a crib to make the house habitable.
It is a funny kind of deja vu for me. When Mr. B and I were first married I packed everything I owned (which wasn’t much) and moved from San Diego into an apartment in South Dakota. For three months we had no furniture except for a card table, two chairs and and our bed. Without a TV or any local friends, I spent my days cooking and learning just how cold a Midwest winter can be. Fast forward almost six years and here I am again only this time even the cookware is packed away. We feel very lucky to be able to even camp out in our house as many of our friends and relatives have evacuated and cannot return home.
The flood waters continue to rise. Heavy rains throughout the Missouri River basin are filling the dams to capacity forcing the Army Corps of Engineers to release more water. In the past two weeks we have had two rainstorms that dropped over 3″ of rain at our house. Each time we went through mini fire drills, running outside in the deluge to check on sump pumps and make sure that the water was not trapped between our house and the sandbag wall surrounding it. Nearby fields are filling with water and all of the levees built around our streets are being tested as the river goes higher. By the end of the week we expect that our streets will be surrounded by water. Hopefully the water levels will remain below the elevation of the roads so we can still get in and out of our home. We check the news several times a day, watching river levels, dam releases and closely following the weather. It is a strange new reality.
Outside of the disaster area life does carry on. Our Farmer’s Market is in full swing and each week I still pick up a CSA box full of fresh produce. This week we enjoyed a mix of root vegetables and fresh lettuces. I have a large dutch oven which we use to cook over a campfire in the summer. Tucked away in the basement it escaped the packing blitz and I was delighted to discover it when we were plugging up our drains. A dutch oven and root vegetables begged for pot roast. After a week of moving and watching the river we were all in desperate need of comfort food by Sunday evening. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Requiring few spices and even fewer kitchen tools, all you need is a big dutch oven, a bottle of wine, and a little time.
I threw a package of tempeh into the pot for me (with edible results but not recommended) and we all sat down around the card table for a real meal. I don’t know what the weeks ahead will bring but I do know that I will keep trying to create small moments of ‘normal’ to help us combat the stress and exhaustion from continually fighting the rising water. When there is a plate of pot roast in front of you life can’t be all that bad.
Basic Pot Roast Print Recipe
Serves Serves 6
- 3-4 lbs Beef Roast (Heel of Round, Chuck, or Arm)
- 1 lb Small Potatoes
- 1 medium Onion, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 lb Carrots, peeled and cut into 1\" chunks
- 1/2 lb Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1\" chunks
- 5 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 2 teaspoons Ground Pepper
- 28 ounces Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Canola Oil
- 1 cup Diced Celery
- 1 cup Beef Broth
- 1 cup Red Wine (Cabernet, Shiraz or Merlot)