When Solitude Presents Itself
October 2, 2006
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. It was lovely, in fact. I was alone in the house with all the windows open and a warm breeze blowing on through. Mr. Sundberg was doing a motivational talk for a group of businesswomen in St. Paul, and the kids were on a hayride along the river with the church youth group.
So alone I was, and what a blessing. Not that I don't enjoy my family, mind you. But when everyone's around there's a kind of chaos humming and perspective becomes difficult to hang on to. You end up doing seven things at once and sometimes you forget to check the pie or get to violin lessons on time or pay the electric bill, and then where are you? You're on a speedboat to Coronaryville and there ain't a lifejacket on board. So when solitude presents itself you let it lift you up and things become clear once again.
I got to thinking about my dad, and how he loves time alone, mostly out in the woods or in the kitchen. When I was a kid, I'd sit outside on the porch swing and listen to him cooking up his latest "gourmet" dinner. He'd sing along with the radio - usually Johnny Cash -- and slam the cupboards shut. I'd hear bottle caps and forks hit the floor, and smell beef cooking, and onions, and beer. I think he's always poured a little beer in everything he cooks. "Brings out the flavor," he says. Then the usual "Whoo-Hoo!" (emphasis on the "Hoo!") which meant dinner was nearly ready and it was going to be good. And it was.
By the time the kids piled in all covered with hay and smelling like wood smoke, I had a crockpot full of beef cookin' away. And when Mr. Sundberg walked through the door just before ten, the kids had each eaten a hot beef sandwich and a pile of tater tots and gone to bed smiling. He let out a big ol' sigh and took off his jacket and slid into the only empty chair. "Hoo ee!" he said, "Let me tell you. After the day I had, it's nice to come home to peace and quiet." Sure is, I said, and left him there at the table with a sandwich on a plate, a pile of mail, and a half-full bottle of beer. I figure I'll give Dad a call this week. Find out how it's all going, and what he's been cookin' lately.
Dad's Good Time Hot Beefs
Slice an onion and throw about half into a crockpot
along with 2 beef bouillon cubes.
Add 1 beef roast, cut into several large chunks.
Scatter the remaining onion on top.
Pour half a can of beer over the meat, salt and pepper it,
and pour on about 1/2 cup of ketchup.
Add more ketchup as time passes -- up to a cup, if you wish.
Cook 8 hours on medium.
Remove meat and shred.
Return meat to crockpot with beer/ketchup/juices.
Serve meat on buns or dense white bread.