Greetings on this Summer Solstice day! I missed the column yesterday for very good reasons – especially that it was Father’s Day, and I spent the day being pampered and showered with presents, and eating some great food. I think we will be on track now for the given future as all those celebration days for early summer are not over…
Since we were scheduled to have a glorious rain all yesterday – over an inch, which just makes everything outside sing and smile this morning – we ran an audible on grilling steaks, since no matter how great that tastes, when you stand out in the rain, what you really experience is simply wet. Instead, I found a great prime rib roast at our local meat market. Now, I have to say that as of late, the beef especially even up here in the Dakotas has been wanting. It’s been as if the cows were on a special diet whose purpose was to create steaks and roasts that were completely devoid of taste. However, I rolled the dice and picked up the rib roast, in hopes that my cooking method would somehow save Father’s Day.
Yes – even though the day was intended to wait on and serve me, when it comes to cooking, I really can’t stay away. So, I pulled out my recipe for the very best prime rib roast. I think perhaps I have shared it with you all before, but if not, or no one remembers, you take a 4-6 pound roast (I like 6 pounds), and you coat it in olive oil, sprinkle it with garlic powder and some pepper, and then cover the entire thing in kosher salt. I mean cover it – turn the roast white, and make sure it sits on a bed of salt in the roaster. Turn the oven on to a blistering 210 degrees…yes, you read that right… put the roaster in the over, shut the door, and then go on your merry way for a few hours. The recipe says 4-5 hours, but for some reason, our oven moved things along quicker than that, and so after about 3 ½ hours, the inner temp was at 145, and so I pulled it out, covered it with foil, and let it sit while the rest of the meal was prepared.
Now begins the tragedy of the day. I was in charge of the meat – Cheri was in charge of the potatoes. Since the roast took over the oven, Cheri decided to pull out our big toaster oven that we used for the better part of a summer a couple of years ago while we waited for our new oven to show up. Her plan was simple: rub the potatoes in olive oil (lots of olive oil yesterday), and sprinkle all over with salt (salt as well), and then bake the baking potatoes for 50 minutes in a nice hot oven until hot and soft and ready for butter and sour cream. That was the plan. I paid no attention to her work, since she could handle it on her own. I thought, at least.
On her first attempt, she supposedly was to preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Since the roast was already done, this needed to happen sooner than later. After the little bell went off, I heard Cheri in the kitchen say, “What the heck?” The oven was stone cold. It was then she discovered that you really need to plug in the oven to an electrical source of some kind in order for it to heat up. Try again…
The oven finally rang the little bell, which once again told her that the heat was on and ready to go. She dropped the potatoes into the oven, and off it went. It went, that is, until she checked on it 20 minutes later, and I heard, “What the heck?” Apparently, there is a timer setting to make the heat, and a simple, turn-on-the-oven-switch that keeps the oven hot until you are done with it. Cheri chose the first option, and so when the oven dinged 20 minutes before, it indeed was hot, but at that point, it had finished its work, and the heat was NOT on – it was off, and so the potatoes made it to kind of warm on the outside skin, but cold and raw inside.
By this time, the rib roast had been sitting on the counter, wrapped in foil for nearly an hour post-cooking time. The potatoes were not going to be ready for another hour. The plan then changed. We quickly cooked the corn – which you MUST have, if you are having rib roast – and then each of us waved to the potatoes in the little oven as we carved the slabs of prime rib, and dished up the corn, and pledge to have potatoes on Monday, and not on Father’s day after all.
The prime rib – was as close to perfect as I have ever made. It was GOOOD, with a little dab of horseradish sauce, and tender and tasty, and a wonderful meal, even if I had cooked it myself. In fact, I ate so much of the prime rib, that I doubt I would even have had enough room for a potato. We polished off the corn, and then even after four of us went to town on the roast, we ended the feast with probably 3 pounds still uneaten, and ready to be unleashed the next day. Say – I have an idea! Lets have prime rib tonight as well – and we can even heat up some pre-cooked baked potatoes as well! Sounds like a great dinner plan…
Cheri is a great cook, and most often, her recipes and meals turn out wonderfully. I guess technology just broke her a little bit on Father’s Day. It was actually a great opportunity for her sons to tease her unmercifully, so that helped make the day as well.
What lesson do we take away from all of this? I guess it is to take nothing for granted. Cheri was totally intentional about baking the potatoes – but the accident came when she assumed all was well – twice. My dad (as a nod to Father’s day) would often lecture us about opening our eyes, focusing, and paying attention to what we were doing at that moment. Don’t “be” somewhere else, or assume that everything will work out without attending to it. For example, if I had merely assumed that in following the recipe, the roast would not have been done for another two hours, what I am sure we would have had would have been a nice 6 pound piece of shoe leather, instead of a 3 ½ pounds of delicious prime.
The potatoes weren’t lost, and actually, I’m sure they are going to be delicious tonight. I wonder, however, how many things in our lives are either lost, or less than they could be, as we assume the oven is on, or the instructions have been followed, or we get distracted from the task at hand… the best gift I can offer each day is to be present in that day, and to create and grow always attending to what is happening at the present. I wish for you a wonderful day of the Solstice – enjoy the longest day, and in doing whatever you need or want to do. Just be there.
Word for the day: solstice (why not?) Pronounced simply SOUL-stiss. We have two of them, summer and winter, but it comes from the same Latin word: solstitium, which simply means “point at which the sun seems to stand still.” Breaking the words down to sol, which is simply the Sun, and sister, which means, “to stand still, or place or set.” In Old English, it was called the sunstead. It is the day of the year, in summer, when the sun seems to just stay where it is, casting in the northern hemisphere the most northerly beams of sunshine, and the more north you get, the longer the day. Here in Fargo, the sun “rose” at 5:32am, although sunlight preceded it, and it will stay up until 9:25 tonight, with sunlight lasting until after 10pm. Long day to put little kids to bed with 3 hours of sunshine still left in the day. Don’t worry however, because when the winter solstice hits, the sun most likely won’t be rising until nearly 8am, and will set before 5pm…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.