Monday, November 8, 2010

The Perfect Roast

I stumbled upon the recipe in a Williams Sonoma cookbook. I scanned the list of ingredients and then scanned my disheveled spice rack. In an unusual turn of events, I had everything listed.

In a small bowl, I mixed up the half dozen spices, drawing the flat edge of a knife across every teaspoon and tablespoon to level each measurement. I mixed it with a fork and rubbed it over a pork roast I had purchased the day before. As instructed, I let it marinate for four hours. I preheated the oven, tinkered with the oven’s probe until I figured it out, and baked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. I placed the roast on a white serving tray, drizzled it with the apricot glaze I had prepared and served with ripened avocado slices. The family loved it.

Five years ago, long before I prepared this perfect roast, I attended a writers’ conference in Boston where I received some very good advice. I knew it was good advice even though, at the time, I didn’t entirely understand it. “Should you write a novel that is good enough to publish,” Instructor said, “be sure you know how you did it.” At the time I was working on a novel that I would never try to publish because it was not good enough. In the years since, I have written BENT ROAD, a novel that did sell, and as 2010 draws to a close, I’ll finish up my next novel, and indeed, I now understand.

The next time I made the roast, I had to pull the meat from the freezer and defrost it in the microwave, and I don’t let the dry rub set long enough because I forgot to get started early in the day. When it came time to pop the roast in the oven, I couldn’t find the oven’s probe, so I it turned out a bit dry. But it’s wasn’t too bad. We had no leftovers.

I had no ripe avocados the third time. Again, the defrosted roast wasn’t quite as tender as a roast never frozen, and since I couldn’t find the cookbook with the recipe, I tried to mix the dry rub from memory. The kids picked at their dinner, and only out of kindness, Husband asked for a second serving. The leftovers ended up in the trash.

As to making sure I know how I wrote a book that ultimately sold…fortunately, I have had many terrific teachers over the years that have instilled a great appreciation for the craft of writing. So, yes, I think I know how I did it. As to the pork roast...I have retired that recipe unless I find the cookbook. Then, and only then, I’ll give it another try.

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