Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I made a really good pot roast in my slow cooker recently. It came out fork-tender and delicious. I'm going to make it again soon, because using a four-pound roast fed us for about a week. The leftovers were great for sandwiches and brown-bag lunches. If you're watching your sodium intake: this has quite a bit! I used low-sodium broth, and we didn't end up consuming most of the cooking liquid, so it probably provides less net sodium than it seems.

I have a 6.5-quart slow cooker. If yours is smaller, you may need to scale this back a bit. But again, this was a really big roast so you should be able to do a 2.5-3 pounder easily in a 5-quart pot.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

1 4-pound bottom round roast
2 tsp flour
1 tsp seasoned salt
¾ tsp fresh ground pepper
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp meat tenderizer
2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 lb carrots, trimmed and halved
1 lb red potatoes, halved
1 Tbsp fresh /1 tsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp onion flakes
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 quart low-sodium beef (or vegetable) broth
½ cup Worcester sauce
½ cup red wine
1 large onion, quartered

1. Mix flour, seasoned salt, pepper, paprika, and meat tenderizer. Rub this mixture all over the roast.

2. In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil. Brown the roast on all sides in the skillet.

3. While the roast is browning, add carrots, potatoes, parsley, onion flakes, onion powder, celery salt, bay leaves, and minced garlic to the bottom of a 6.5-quart slow cooker.

4. Remove the browned roast from the skillet and place in the slow cooker. Deglaze the hot skillet with the wine, scraping up the browned bits with a spatula. Pour this mixture into the slow cooker over the roast.

5. Pour broth and Worcester sauce, over the roast. Place ¾ of the onion around the edges of the roast, then separate the layers of the remaining ¼ of the onion and place them on top of the roast.

6. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until very tender.

In a fog

It's been really foggy here the past few mornings. Driving to work makes me feel like I'm going blind.

Today is the first day since last Saturday that I don't have a headache. Headaches are stressful, and they give me weird dreams. Last night I dreamed I was trying to kill an alien facehugger with a baseball bat while on a camping trip. I woke up stressed and tired. That's not very restful, subconscious.

We finally finished the series run of 90210 on Tuesday. Something like 297 episodes covering 10 years, watched in about eight months. We're not going to know what to do with all this free time now, and the TiVo may have a nervous breakdown.

The tomato plant in the Topsy Turvy seems to be surviving. I tried to move it to the front yard for more sun, but we can't find anything that can support its weight.

The AeroGarden is still going strong. I can't keep up with its basil production; I think I'm going to have to make pesto out of self-defense. Which is fine, because pesto is delicious.

Monday, March 02, 2009

This week is MS Awareness Week

This week, March 2-8, 2009, has been declared Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. I feel that I am somewhat more aware of MS than the average person; I get to be extra aware of it every night when I take my Copaxone injection. Fortunately, I don't really have many symptoms at the moment -- a slight tingle in my left hand and arm is all.

I always thought it was cool when people did charity events like the annual BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. Now I have an extra appreciation for this kind of charity activity. Just so you know: MS is still out there, but treatments do exist now. There's no cure yet, but the outlook for a newly diagnosed person is much better than it was even 15 years ago. New treatments are being found as well, and there's a glimmer of hope that a cure might be found in my lifetime.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Project Topsy Turvy is afoot

I planted a little grape tomato plant in the Topsy Turvy on Sunday. It's hanging from one of the support beams at the edge of our back patio, so I hope it gets enough sun. It's going to be in the low 80s today -- that's right, 82 degrees on February 26th, welcome to Houston -- so it looks like we're in prime tomato time already. I think it's supposed to take about 62 days to get ripe fruit from it, but we'll see what happens. Watering it is kind of a challenge since it needs to be watered very slowly to keep the water from running right through it. That takes some patience.

Fresh herbs are awesome

The AeroGarden's crop is now ready for harvesting, so I used some of the dill and basil last night on fresh salmon filets. The filets were about six ounces each cut long and skinny from the broader end of the same larger filet, with the skin and scales on the bottom. I rinsed the filets, patted them dry, then put them skin side-down on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil. I sprinkled a little seasoned salt and fresh-ground pepper on the filets. Then I put a few springs of dill on top. I tore two large basil leaves in half lengthwise, slid two of the halves down between the two filets, then put the other two halves across the tops of the filets at a diagonal. I don't like a heavy basil flavor, but I thought a little touch of it would be good. Last, I covered the filets with lemon slices, wrapped the foil into a packet, and threw it on the grill for about 15 minutes. I also put some fresh pineapple spears on the grill.

The salmon turned out incredible! Jeremy said it was the best salmon he'd ever eaten, and it definitely was up there for me. None of the flavors overpowered the taste of the salmon, so the dill, basil and lemon were all just right. It was very moist, just from cooking in its own fat and steam inside the foil packet. I'm sure baking it that way would work just as well; I just put it on the grill because I wanted to grill the pineapple too. The grilled pineapple got a little more charred than I intended, but it still was very good. Jeremy's usually not a huge pineapple lover, but he loves it fresh and grilled. Pineapple is my favorite fruit, so it's an easy win for me. This meal is going to become a regular fixture on our dinner calendar, maybe with a little green salad on the side.