24 December 2008

I Cooked Beef!

Hi. My name is Danie. I do not eat beef, or pork, or anything that isn't chicken, turkey, or fish. It's how I was raised. My mother stopped eating meat one day, and my dad thought it odd she'd give it to her family but not eat it herself. So he stopped. Then they told my brother and I that we'd stopped. It was a pretty simple deduction, since were probably 6 and 4 (or younger) and had no means to buy or cook any meat ourselves. My dad did some reading, validated the decision and now would see it as the ultimate disregard of the way he raised me if I started eating beef or pork now. Trust me when I say nothing can be worth that.

I date a boy named Jesse, who thoroughly enjoys meat. He thinks chicken is terribly boring and really likes beef and pork, but mostly beef. It's a mixed relationship, but we've made it work just fine. Something changed when we moved though, that had Jesse eating as much poultry (and almost as little beef) as I had. I think it's partly because I buy the majority of the groceries and do not know the first thing about cuts of meat or how to buy them. It's also because we've been splitting entrees lately, so we can at least maintain weight without gaining. Also, Jesse's been getting his burger fix at lunch every now and then. Thank you McDonald's. So for Christmas Eve dinner this year, I decided to make him something beefy. All I needed to do was find a recipe, figure out how to buy beef, and learn how to cook it. I gave myself 24 hours to do just that.

Kate helped me find an Oven Baked Rump Roast recipe. If you look at it, you'll see it seems simple enough. If you look again, there are some issues. First of all, how is the bell pepper used? Second, there are no measurements. I like a recipe I can follow to the letter. I am really good at following directions, as long as they are specific. A "pinch" could mean a lot, depending on how deep my fingers go and how tightly they are pressed together. And how can I "season to taste" if I've never made the recipe or eaten the foods involved? Obviously you don't have to be thorough or practical to cook. But I didn't think of any of those things until I committed to the recipe and went to the store.

Selecting A Roast

When it comes to beef, I know it's red. But Jesse once told me it's also dyed to be that way, and that there are signs of aging if you look for them. Unfortunately, when I went to buy the rump, I could not remember what those signs were. Usually we split up in the meat section. I see what Jennie-O has to offer and he watches meat prices. We meet again near chicken, and go from there. So I was in a foreign land Tuesday afternoon. I watched other people buy beef. I listened to conversations with the butchers. And I had no idea what was happening around me. I then saw a guy pushing a cart with freshly packaged red meats. I noticed the cart pusher had the bloodiest clothed out of any of the other butchers and I stopped him. I said "you look like a guy who knows." And he did.

My only other issue was onion salt. I couldn't find it. I found regular salt. I found Kosher Salt, Sea Salt, Garlic Salt and Onion Powder. There was no Onion Salt. I used Onion Powder. When I find Onion Salt, I'll let you know the difference.

Preparing A Surprise

I decided I did not want Jesse to know what I was planning. I didn't want him watching, or worrying, or expecting anything delicious. Plus everything seems more fun when plotting a secret surprise. And I still had to make something for me to eat, so it was an easy enough omission. I decided to make Pan Fried Chicken Breasts with Oregano Garlic Butter. If you look at that recipe, you'll see the kind of specificity a girl like me needs.


I got all my ingredients, and got home with 30 minutes to prepare and hide a roast. It was then I realized I didn't know how much of anything to use. It was the wrong time for that and it cost me. I ended up using 6 cloves of garlic for a 3lb roast. I recommend you not do that. I made thin slices, then mixed them with the Onion Powder, salt and pepper. I then stabbed deep, thin slits into the rump, and stuck slivers of garlic inside. I did not know how much to use. I did not know how a rump retains or spreads flavor. I put a lot of garlic into that meat. I left one section nearly untouched though, in case the rest was terrible. I then rubbed steaks and soy sauces on it, and put most of the remaining garlic slices around it, like confetti. I started wrapping it in plastic wrap, and I heard the key in the door. I panicked.

I whined "NO." Jesse answered, "yes." I ran to the edge of the hallway (rump in hand) and leaned out. I told him he had to go. I explained he could not see what I was doing and that there was nowhere for him to hide and that I need wrapping paper and that he should go get some and that he really should have rang the buzzer so I knew he was coming and that he had to leave immediately.

He looked a little confused and laughed at me. He wanted a snack. I backed away and came back with grapes and without the rump. He made stepping noises, as if he were coming in anyway. I started squealing and screaming. He asked if he should go get coffee. I told him that was an excellent idea. He left. I wrapped the rump, put it in a plastic bag, put that bag in a paper bag, and put both bags in the crisper. My secret was safe.