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December 8, 2022

To Beef or Not to Beef

“I enjoy cooking with wine, 

sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.” 

– Julia Child

Give me a good old American-style beef pot roast, with all its dark wine-rich drippings and a crusty French roll, and I am in heaven.

In just one week, my thermometer has dropped to the 50s here in Ben Lomond and I have begun thinking of cinnamon rolls, hot soups for lunches and filling my kitchen with the smells of dinner coming from the oven.

I’ll spend part of today rearranging my clothes closet, putting lightweight clothes in the back and pulling the flannels and sweaters to the front.

While drinking my coffee and writing this column, I looked out my window to the beautiful maple tree which covers half of my side yard. Its leaves are turning from green to yellows and reds.  “That’s my tree,” my sweet Hubby Norm would always say.  My eyes fill with tears as they always do when I think of him, especially during this time of year that Norm loved so much.  

Norm believed families should be together during holidays and our home was always filled with family. But ‘father time’ has made changes to our family; some have married and live further away and a few of the elderly and my Norm are no longer with us.

I remember as a little 7-year-old, my grandmother had died just before Thanksgiving, and after the family farm had been sold and the bickering over ‘who got what’ passed, a tradition set in, and we were all together at the dining room table as a family, once again.

In our old boarding house, we had a ‘cold room’ just next to the kitchen. This room had been added onto the house and contained a wringer washing machine next to the deep double sink, shelving for my aunt’s canned food, and a partitioned-off two-seater outhouse. Barn-styled doors covered the opening to the out-of-doors. Our icebox was also kept in this cold room. In winter in Washington state, this room’s temperature would drop to the low 30s.

Near Halloween, my aunt began stocking the cold room with boxes of apples for holiday pies, and her turkey stuffing always had grated apples added to the mix. And when those apples began to be overripe, she would press them for the hard cider she was fermenting in large porcelain crocks. Those crocks would sit next to the large crocks filled with cabbage fermenting to be our sauerkraut for the year.  

The Thanksgiving ham would sit on one of those shelves along with sweet potatoes ready to be candied for dinner. Peck baskets filled with string beans and other vegetables from uncle’s garden lined those shelves as well. Food is stored well in that cold room during the wintertime.

Today, looking out onto the maple tree in my yard, its leaves turning colors, I am ready for the traditional winter foods, and I’ve just finished cooking my aunt Betty’s pot roast, its smell reminding me of our family dinners of long ago. I am thankful for memories of my past. Happy Halloween!

American-style Beef Pot Roast

I bought this pictured $2.29 per pound chuck roast at Safeway last week at $4.49 per pound (member price) for a total of $11.43. Along with the veggies, this would easily serve dinner for six.


  • 3–4 lb. Chuck Roast
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • One 13 oz. canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 large, dried onion, diced.
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup red wine

Lightly sear both sides of the roast in the oil, remove from pot, cover and set aside.

In drippings, sauté carrots, onions, garlic and celery. Add tomatoes, spices and Tabasco sauce. Bring to a boil. Add red wine and turn heat to a medium simmer. Add meat back to pot. Continue to simmer for 2 ½-3 hrs.

When the roast is done, I add potatoes, carrots and boiling onions on top of meat, cover and continue cooking until veggies are fork-tender.

Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]


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