Two weekends ago, we had a couple of people over for dinner. I was determined to try my own hand at a meal that is a favourite in my family. Except, I didn't consult those in my family who have mastered this meal. I glanced at a couple of recipes online, and kind of winged it! It turned out quite well. There are a couple of things I would change next time (not starting that second glass of wine before the meal is one, for the sake of keeping each task diligent, for instance!) But, all in all - you know that if I made it and didn't completely muck it up... it is relatively easy.

I bought the small (.77kg) roast from the Healthy Butcher in Toronto - a nice shop which sells organic meats. It looked tiny, but was the perfect size for four people.

First thing's first, I turned on the oven to 400f. I rubbed some olive oil on the roast (oh gosh I hate touching raw meat - but it feels good to manually create flavouring on your food), then slathered on / rubbed in some chopped rosemary, fresh from my plant. I stuck 3 small cloves of garlic in the meat, secured by the strings. The meat also came with a sprig of rosemary stuck in there. I applied sea salt and pepper, and parsley. Just went with my gut here, rubbed in the amount that felt right, and I think this liberty and creativity is the best part of cooking.

In the bottom of the roasting pan went some carrots, onions (chopped in huge pieces just for flavour, because I hate onions), celery, potatoes and butternut squash (to be then mashed into a bed for the meat. The meat stayed in the oven for 2.5-3 hours, and came out well-cooked, which surprised me, because I had really intended to mess that up somehow! I did ever-so-slightly undercook my steamed asparagus, but nobody but me seemed to mind very much (and, like I said, my carefree nature was really illuminated by shiraz). I grated a bit of parmesan cheese on the asparagus, and some sea salt and pepper again.

I simply mashed the butternut squash, and kept it pretty plain for the bed of the meat. This I would do differently next time - it could have done with a small amount of butter mixed in.

I quickly whipped together a gravy, that was again a complete tipsy experiment. On Jamie Oliver's website there was a recipe for a gravy made with vegetable broth, red wine vinegar, capers, flour and... something else I didn't have on-hand. I actually used 500ml (approximately) of chicken broth, 1-2 tbsp of flour, and 2-3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. Just heated it and whisked it all together. Let's not make this complicated.

Know what? That simple gravy was my favourite part, and I didn't feel remotely guilty about dragging my meat around in it on my plate (normally I pass on the gravy).

So there! Easy peasy (as Jamie Oliver says). It feels good to chop up some real foods that humans have been consuming since the beginning of time, as clean as it gets, throw it into the oven with a beautiful and ethical piece of meat, and wait for it to do its thing.

I will definitely attempt another roast in the near future, hopefully to come closer to the dishes I've eaten at some of my family gatherings. Cooking just makes you want to cook more and more, because you progress with each dish you attempt.

Try it out! Let me know how it goes!

*wine photo found at: