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  • Writer's pictureJayne Lisbeth

Murder by Pot Roast

Updated: Feb 12, 2020

Everytime I cook a pot roast I recreate my mother and grandmother’s time honored recipe:

Bottom Round Roast, 2-4 pounds. Brown well on all sides with carrots and one large onion, cut in eighths, in olive oil on medium high heat. While browning salt and pepper roast generously. Add two Bay Leaves, brown slightly. Lower heat to medium. Add red wine vinegar (preferably my own homemade herbed red wine vinegar) over the roast. For a more piquant and German flavor, add one medium finely chopped garlic dill pickle. Add one fresh garlic clove, sliced thinly. Add eight large fresh mushrooms, quartered. Immediately cover roast with one can of cream of mushroom soup, undiluted, combined with 1 package dry Lipton Beefy Onion Mushroom Soup Mix and ½ cup beef stock. Pour over meat and vegetables. Add splash of red wine. Cover, simmer on low 4-6 hours or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Enjoy the sensual and delightful scents filling your kitchen.

I’ve added my own touches, most notably the Cream of Mushroom soup mix, which a student at the University of Tampa shared with me during my employ there. For the most part, this is my family perfected Pot Roast recipe.

In 1990 Will and I were enveloped and tied to one another in marriage counseling. I knew our marriage had little hope, but I thought counseling would be my Hail Mary Pass. Perhaps my family Pot Roast could be a peace offering. If I could show him my dedication to a truce through a special meal. What could go wrong?

I set our beautiful table, a ship hatch cover purchased in a Massachusetts salvage yard, which I adored. The antique table was my pride and joy. I used our best China, embroidered placemats and silver.

On the wall across from our table was my favorite and most valuable signed print. It was by a famous artist, depicting a Grizzly Bear catching a salmon, graphic and violent. Water erupted from a raging river. In the middle of the rushing waters stood a Grizzly. A salmon, attempting the upriver effluence to spawn, leapt out of the foam and chaos. The waiting bear stood, massive body stalwart in the raging river. The salmon seemed to leap into the bear's gnashing jaws. The sky, the clouds, were imprinted in the reflection of the water drops, the cascading water.

To my left was the wall of windows facing the road which would someday greet my freedom.

I served my Pot Roast on my beautiful dining room table accompanied with buttered parsleyed noodles, fresh green beans, red cabbage and gravy. All were tributes to my past and present, lovingly provided in this perfect meal.

My family sat: Will, Lana, Jack and myself. I faced my print of the gnashing jaws of the bear, the salmon, the river and the beautiful sky scene reflected in the water droplets. I looked at my dear children and Will. Just a family dinner, one of countless others I had served over the years.

Suddenly, Will began coughing, choking. His eyes bulged. He pointed a finger at me.

“Your mother, she’s trying to kill me!”

We all looked at him, forks raised, Pot Roast deliciously scenting the room.Will pulled a bay leaf from his mouth. He repeated, “Your mother is trying to kill me. To poison me.”

I said, “Will, It’s a bay leaf. From the gravy. I guess I didn’t see it when I poured the gravy into the gravy boat.”

Confronted with the puzzled eyes of our children and my own, I said again,

“Will. It’s a Bay Leaf. To season the Pot Roast. I always season the Pot Roast with Bay Leaves. Just put it aside. I wasn’t trying to kill you.”

The rest of the meal was endured in puzzled silence. I couldn’t stop looking at my beautiful print, the Bear with gnashing teeth in the foaming, furious river. The sky reflected in the water droplets. The salmon racing to her destiny, leaping into the bear’s jaws.

Who would I become? The bear or the salmon?

Thirty years later I made my Pot Roast for my sweetheart. Carefully, I removed the bay leaves. He devoured the delicious meal.

The Bear and the Salmon were no longer part of the view.

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