Once a fortnight, I’ve started this thing where we try to have a Sunday Roast. Every time I open the freezer, I see the meat ready for roasting and I wink at it and whisper “soon!”. Today was Roast Day. I’ve been known in the past to let the day get away from me before getting the roast on and thus have a late dinner with psycho children too tired to eat, but not so today! At 1:30pm I lovingly salted and oiled the meat, placed it on a bed of onions and surrounded it with garlic. I chopped and parboiled the veggies and put them in the oven too. I then turned the oven right down low, put on the exhaust fan and got the kids ready to go see my grandma. When we got home we would have roast!
On the way home from the hospital it was bitter cold and pouring down rain. As we drove along with headlights on, we all shared one smug thought: Roast. Put children in warm pyjamas, fill their bellies with roast beef and they’ll be in bed asleep faster than you can say “Downton Abbey”!
As we pulled into the driveway, I said in my most important voice, “Mr Knightley, you unload the kids. I must go in and check on The Roast!”
My first sign that something might have gone wrong was the smell of smoke. It would seem the roast had ‘caught’. Then I got to the kitchen.
My delightful two-year-old son, who loves to help Mummy in the kitchen, had turned the oven up to maximum before we left the house. The kitchen was rather smoky (would have been much more so, had the fan not been on). And the Roast was a blackened crisp.
Many things happened then: I stormed about the house yelling to no one in particular about how hard my life is; Matlida burst into very loud, impassioned sobs to which Mr Knightley and I (I’m very ashamed to say) growled in unison “Don’t YOU start!”; Harry, confused as to why everyone seemed so cross at him, set to destroying the house with a kitchen whisk; Christopher Robin asked “what’s for dinner?” and Annie gurgled and kicked in amusement.
Mr Knightley, with an air of grim determination, retrieved the smoking, shrunken black mass from the oven and tried to carve it. Beneath the thick black crust there was a little bit of good meat to pick at (Mr Knightley gave me the nicest piece). It felt like Tiny Tim’s family from A Christmas Carol.
We had tinned soup and toasted muffins for dinner.
Afterwards, as we were cleaning up, Mr Knightley did a bit of wistful poking around the charred remains of what were once vegetables and presented me with a small morsel of onion. “Taste this” he said in a kind voice “It’s perfectly caramelised”