Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price

I wanted to make dinner

"Don't make them dinner," he told me. "I'll give you money. You can take them out to dinner."

This, I knew, was not a comment on my cooking but the generosity of a man who knows how insecure I am in the kitchen. And while he applauds my vow to learn how to cook by cooking more, he also thought it might be a bit too much to start with a dinner party for seven.

Saturday was my day to take our four Ukrainian visitors on a tour of Pittsburgh. You may have read in the Grumpy Old Editor blog, or my own postings a few months back, that Park Burroughs (aka Grumpy Old Editor) and I visited Ukraine as part of a newspaper exchange program in January. And while Ukraine was in the midst of a deep freeze that held the average temperature at -17 Fahrenheit while I was there, I've never encountered such warmth. When it was time to leave I wept.

I wanted to make the Ukrainians feel as welcome as they made me feel. To me, a home-cooked dinner says welcome much more than one at a restaurant cramped with people with mass-produced prints hanging on the wall.

He found me a recipe for Barbecue Beef. He lent me his roaster. Set out any ingredients and utensils I might need, and let me borrow his kitchen for an evening.

The next night, Saturday, was the dinner party. The roaster full of beef, which had simmered all day, was devoured. I made a salad. Cut up some fresh fruit and bought plenty of beer. Everyone ate everything. After, we sat on my front porch, drinking coffee and talking.

I think food should be judged by its ability to be consumed as a leftover. If a slice of pizza or pasta can hold its own the next morning, straight out of the fridge, to me it is props worthy.

Everyone asked for take-home containers of the barbecue roast. The next morning, I ate the quarter cup I saved for myself, for breakfast, cold.

Here is his recipe for roast barbecue. I'm not sure which of his cookbooks it came from but it was submitted by a Nancy M. Frank.

Roast Barbecue
- yields 12 servings
- may be doubled or tripled

3 lbs. chuck roast
2 Tbsps. shortening ( I used butter)
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbsps. vinegar
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cups catsup
3 Tbsps. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsps. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. prepared mustard (I learned after asking several shoppers at the grocery store that prepared mustard is, in fact, yellow mustard, not a spice)
2 Tbsps. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Trim meat and brown in shortening. (The cut of roast I found was pretty lean and didn't need trimming. And, as I stated above, I browned the meat in butter.)
2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. (I added all the remaining ingredients including the now-browned roast) to the roaster and after it reached a boil, I turned the heat down.)
3. As soon as meat is tender enough, approximately 2 to 3 hours, use to forks and shred or pull meat apart. (We had to take the roast out of the roaster about two hours into it and boil it in a separate pot of water for an hour before it reached the point where it could be shreddded. Then, we added the shredded meat and water we boiled it in back in the roaster).
4. Continue cooking until meat is very tender. Cooking time frequently varies from 3 to 6 hours.
5. Serve on buns.


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