Monday, 25 January 2010

Sunday roast

I may have given the impression in my last blog post that I am permanently tearing my hair out over the Littleboys, but that is not always the case. (Although The Doctor, who tends to arrive home at the witching hour of half past suppertime, may disagree...).

The boys can be incredibly sweet, affectionate, playful, funny, cuddly and even, on occasion, well-behaved. I often feel a tremendous swell of pride just looking at them as we walk down the street together. Only the other day, we passed a woman who pointed at them and said: "That's SOOO cute." (I wasn't sure if by "that" she meant the pair of them, the fact they were scooting, or something else, possibly Littleboy 2's snowboots with moose faces, but hey, it was a compliment).

Yesterday they managed to earn themselves several brownie points (or should that be cub-scout points?) at supper time. Over the past few months, we have been endeavouring to eat supper together at the weekends as a family. During the week, it's not really possible, as they are usually clamouring for food well before The Doctor gets home - but at the weekend, we have the time and inclination to prepare a big family meal and eat it with them. In the summer, it was usually a barbecue, but during the winter a traditional English roast has been attempted on several Sundays.

This has not been without its difficulties. Meat is rather different here from in the UK, and the concept of the roast, while not unknown, is not particularly common. So on the one hand, good steak is cheap and widely available and our Christmas turkey, despite coming from the upmarket Whole Foods, cost a third of what it would have done in the UK. But on the other, selecting a joint of meat for roasting can be tricky. For example, finding a leg of lamb is a rare thing in our local supermarket; and if you do, more than likely it will be expensive and imported from New Zealand. The US is a land of cowboys, not shepherds, so mint sauce is off the menu for the moment.

Pork is plentiful and good, but the roasting joints are somewhat different from the UK - it seems Americans don't go in for crackling, and despite the fact that this is probably a lot better for our waistlines, I miss my dose of bubbling, crispy salted fat. One weekend The Doctor (the head chef of the Sunday Roast) decided to go rogue and bought something describing itself as a 'veal roast'. Now I had misgivings about this from the start, never having heard of roast veal, but he insisted that "the French eat it all the time". Let's just say that after two mouthfuls all of us gave up and politely pushed it to one side; it was the stringiest, toughest roast I have tasted since Sunday lunch at boarding school. We made a stock out of it instead, which turned out excellent.

Then there was my Boxing Day ham experience. Having bought it in rather a hurry in a crowded supermarket on Christmas Eve, I glanced at the packaging at home and was highly unamused to see that I had bought something called 'Butt Portion Ham'. Now I am sure there were plenty of delicious hams available, but I had chosen, basically, the arse end. And although it tasted OK once doused in cloves and honey, I am sorry to say that while eating it I could not get out of my head the child's chant 'Yum, yum, pig's bum'....

Yesterday I bought a 'round eye roast' of beef. Jackpot! This turned out to be delicious, succulent and tender.

And best of all, the Littleboys munched their way through the whole meal. Four slices of roast beef, green beans, potatoes. This may not sound like a big deal but Littleboy 1 is a notoriously fussy eater - only six months ago, I worried that he would never eat anything other than salami and hummus (as you can see, his foods of choice were rather unusual, but he refused to try anything else). He has never before deigned to eat a green vegetable, let alone announce that he 'loved' it (albeit he ate them with ketchup, but at least it's a start). Breakthrough! I beamed with pride at my angelic duo. Not only that, but they helped to set the table and cleared the plates at the end of the meal.

So today, they can fight over their train set all they like; Littleboy 2 can go to nursery with Weetabix in his hair (and believe me, he did); and no doubt they'll be driving me crazy by 6pm. But they have set themselves up for the week. Sometimes, it's the little things that make it all worthwhile.....

21 comments:

Home Office Mum said...

very true. There's nothing quite like cooking a meal and eating it as a family and it's actually eaten and not complained about or dropped on the floor or scraped in the bin. It makes it feel worth doing. I've actually bothered to cook some chilli con carne today. Huge leap forward from my apathetic cooking of late. Perhaps I'll try a roast on the weekend...

Iota said...

And now you must try a pot roast. Then you'll be a real American. I think the meat turns out reliably more tender than a roast UK-style in the oven, and it's great to do the veg WITH the meat, not separately.

Here is the recipe that gave me the confidence to have a go.

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/01/2008_the_year_of_the_pot_roast/

You might enjoy the blog too. I started reading it way back before she was famous, and now she's on the New York Times bestseller list (a blogger's dream come true...) You probably read it already...

Rosie Scribble said...

My daughter is dreadful with food, just incredibly fussy. It is so satisfying when she sits down and eats a good meal. I'm hoping for a breakthrough soon as well. We're getting there!

Lorna Harris said...

Did you have Yorkshire Puddings? My boys love those, I'm sure your boys would too.

I get really frustrated over the joints of meat here, nothing seems to make any sense. I'll have to try Iota's pot roast, haven't done one of those yet.

How nice to have a lovely family meal with no screaming - rare but delightful!

Michelloui said...

I was smiling all the way through this! As an American who has come to the UK, I too had these struggles to fit my meal planning around the different cuts of meat! Im with Iota, you should try pot roast. It seems a bit plebby compared to the gorgeous roasts of Britain I have since learned to cook, but it is truly scrummy and very tender. If youre a fan of roast you'll love it.

Iw as just saying the other day I really must learn how to make a Beef Wellington... then I'll truly be adapted to British cooking...!

natural girl said...

I'm from New Zealand and yes I do love a lamb roast. I have no idea what a pot roast is. None. At. All. sounds weird.
I love a good Sunday roast. This week it was lamb and next week it will be beef. YUM.

Mud in the City said...

Friends when I lived in America used to think I was cruel and unusual for eating a 'poor little lamb' and yet readily tucked into veal.

Maybe 'veal' just sounds a whole lot less like calf.....

Jo Beaufoix said...

It's stuff like that you never even thin of when you live in a different culture. I'm a veggie and struggle to get veggie food in Spain, France etc. Mad. That Veal sounds vile though. Stringy. Yuck. :D

nappy valley girl said...

HomeOfficeMum - yes, it's a rare thing but one of the most satisfying in the world.

Iota - I have never tried a pot-roast but our conclusion about the veal was that it was probably supposed to be pot-roasted long and slow rather than oven-roasted. Thanks for the link - I'll check it out.

Rosie - LB1 has always been a dreadfully fussy eater and it is only now, finally, that I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I think it helps that he is at an age now where I can explain that if he doesn't eat properly, he won't grow up to be a big boys...that seems to work on him.

Lorna - haven't tried Yorkshire puds for a while with the boys - last time they refused but I don't see why, it's just pastry and carbs after all.

Michelloui - it constantly surprises me how food can be so different in the two countries. I bet it's very weird for you! Pot roast sounding tempting - although I bet the boys would still want to eat it with ketchup....

Natural girl - nothing beats a good leg of lamb, I say.

Mud - they don't seem to have the same issues with veal here as we do in the UK. Me, I'm partial to a decent wiener schnitzel but roast veal will never be on my menu again....

Jo - it really was, roast vile. And, yes, veggies get a really hard time in Europe. I remember being on a French exchange - one girl was a veggie but they didn't believe that she would still object to bits of bacon in a salad....

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Bless them for being so good. I've just come back from the supermarket trip from hell so am insanely jealous!

Do you think these fussy eaters eventually grow out of being quite so fussy? Adam, who sounds on a par with LB1, is improving. Slowly, but definitely getting better. No veg that he can see (I am the master of disguise on that front, grate corgette a blessing) but he has gone for kiwis in a big way, which are green. It's a start. And who cares about ketchup? One of my oldest friends used to have ketchup with ice cream as a child (it did look vile) and he now rarely touches it.

angels said...

I've no idea what a pot roast is either - it sounds like a joint of meat swimming in broth? Well done the boys eating a good old English meal; wish I had a wife to cook me one!

Rhiannon said...

whole foods do a nice line in mint sauce. have yet to discover where I can get cranberry sauce - the stuff in a can we get at Thanksgiving is awful. I have to get my mum to bring it over.

Mwa said...

I love big weekend meals. Luckily I have a husband to cook them too.

Expat mum said...

We manage to have a family meal most evenings and it's been a blessing in disguise. It get s a bit loud with two teens and a 6 year old, but if we didn't do this I don't think the little guy would ever see his sibs.
I'm with Iota on trying a pot roast. The lamb here tends to be quite fatty unless you get a decent leg, but if you're having Americans over, you might want to ask them if they eat it.
One of my faves is pork tenderloins, which you can roast, bake, grill or saute the slices and it's delicious.

TheLadyWhoLunches said...

Just found your blog! Lovely!
I'm an American in England, one of the things we agreed on when moving here was that we would have a Sunday roast at a different restaurant every Sunday. I absolutely have become addicted. I thought I would never get over my Sunday brunches in America, but I think I am a true convert.

Now, moving back will be quite sad. Good to know what you're going through so I can jump in once we move this summer!

nappy valley girl said...

Brit in Bosnia - I live in hope. I do feel as if I'm finally getting there with LB1, and he has been fussy since he first started weaning. LB2 is better, although he's going through that toddler stage of 'no, no, no' still. But food is one of our constant struggles...

Angels - I don't think it's something we really go in for in Britain. I've no objection to the idea, though - it could be delicious.

Rhiannon - you can always make cranberry sauce, it's very easy and nicer than the bought stuff. Just boil up fresh cranberries with a tiny bit of water and sugar.

Mwa - yes, doing it myself would be a whole different story!

Expat Mum - I had no idea that Americans were squeamish about lamb. How very odd...

LadyWhoLunches - I love the idea of Brunch, but somehow it never seems to happen with two kids who want to stuff Rice Krispies at 7am and then want lunch by 12...I am also having to train them to like eggs.

Tara Cain said...

I have to say, a roast dinner is the one meal my two will sit down to and SCOFF. Every single bit of it. Especially if it has Yorkshire pud on too.
So, that is why I can never ever move from England!

Cassandra said...

It is a nightmare isn't it. I have no answers, just sympathy. And I am REALLY sorry about the lamb thing, that is rough. But I suppose that you can DREAM of lamb and really go to town mint sauce wise on your visits to the UK - Jamie Oliver's slow roasted shoulder of lamb is the best thing I';ve EVER tasted (apart from the River Cottage Donnie Brascoe pork, in the RC Meat Book...)Have you read I Will Never Ever Eat A Tomato (or something like that) - it's a Charlie and Lola book - really good. Fx

nappy valley girl said...

Tara - Ah, but do they like hot dogs? Mine are in seventh heaven here with those...

Cassandra - thanks, am salivating at thought of Jamie Oliver Lamb (not at thought of Jamie Oliver, she hastens to add). I think we'll manage without it - no doubt we'll go lamb crazy when we return to the UK though....

Brit Gal Sarah said...

I miss roast Lamb the most, as the only place I can occasionally get it out here in Okieland is Sam's Club 3 hrs away! But we had a joint this w/end and I go home again tonight to roast Lamb :-)

Now just don't get me started on the bacon situation, which I have blogged about at length!

Anonymous said...

Ok, this is confusing, I know, but pork butt is actually the shoulder of the pig. Not for roasting. It's best simmered on the stove in a big pot with carrots, celery, potatoes for several hours, aka New England boiled dinner. Delish! Morag