Sunday, July 4, 2010

Uh-oh - Mum's cooking a lamb roast

Every once in a while, it’s good to do something that reminds you that you’re not as smart as you think you are. Today, I did three.

On the surface, none of these things was particularly difficult. In fact, there are many who would be a CWA Lady to my MasterChef contestant when it comes to these challenges (for those who missed it, the lemon-thyme-with-ginger-mousse-encrusted smarty pants contestants on the current series were brought crashing down to earth last week when asked to produce scones, a fruitcake, lamingtons, a neopolitan cake, and some jam – basic cookery that looks like rocket science when you don’t know how).

My challenges were thus:

*to prune our roses;

*to help The Builder figure out how to get a light disseminator into our new skylight;

*to produce a roast dinner.

Let’s start with the first one. When we bought The Fibro, it came complete with an established garden, including a simply spectacular rose bush. (That’s it flowering in the picture above, and I’ve waxed lyrical about it before.) With such a rose bush comes the responsibility each year of the Dreaded Pruning. Everyone knows roses need pruning. Not everyone, including me, knows how to do it.

Last year, The Builder took charge and gave the bush a serious haircut. Then we waited. It wasn’t until it burst into abundant life in spring and glorious bloom in summer that he admitted how worried he’d been that he might have got it all wrong and killed off a plant that must be at least 20 years old.

This year, clearly not wanting to carry the stress, the secateurs (and pruning saw) were ceremoniously handed over to me. And so I found myself out the front, in the fading winter sunshine, trying hard to remember the instructions from the last Better Homes & Gardens snippet on pruning.

It took me ages. Anyone watching me would have thought I was either communing with the plant or losing my senses. I thought long and hard before every snip – was it dead wood? Would it be a crossed branch? Was there a healthy bud nearby? Could I be any more of an idiot if I tried?

The job is done. All I can do now is wait.

Challenge number two was a spatial issue. I should never have got involved. There was no diagram. It was a matter of working out which way the screw/clamp arrangement needed to go to hold the disseminator thingy in.

It should be pointed out here that spatial issues are not my forte. I have had a new car for over a month now, since the World’s Most Boring Car when to the great retirees motorshow in the sky, and I only reverse parked it for the first time on Friday night. And only under duress. And only in a space big enough to fit an articulated semi-trailer. I’m no good with ‘which peg goes in which hole?’ questions.

The Builder and I discussed it for several minutes with me making several unhelpful suggestions about turning the whole thing upside down before I decided that it might be better if I went to rearrange my sock drawer. Or something.

Challenge three was the lamb roast. It should be pointed out here that my cooking is much better than my reverse parking. I can even make scones that do not bounce on the table. But roast dinners make me uncomfortable. If it were just about baked potatoes and gravy, I’d be a winner. But I’m hit and miss on getting the meat right.

It worries me, it really does. Everyone talks about their mum’s roast dinner. Half the population only goes home after the age of 18 for The Roast. If I can’t get that right, the boys may race out the door the minute they can and never come back.

Tonight’s effort wasn’t too bad. But definitely not as good as my Mum and Dad’s.

I think I’ll invite myself over this week for dinner. Or a cooking lesson.


  1. Get The Builder a Weber for Father's day. It has saved my sanity.

    We are now a family that has a roast every single week.....and I can fluff around with just the veggies and the gravy......all thanks to the Weber and lovely husbands pride......

  2. I think I would have failed miserably on each challenge. Well done for even attempting any of them! Fingers crossed for the bush!

    With anything remotely resembling DIY or diagrams, my husband says I get a far away look in my eyes and then they glaze over. Or like Santa's little helper when all the Simpsons are crowding round and saying blah blah blah (I think I've used that analogy before). As you know, I can't drive although I wasn't too bad at parallel parking. But the whole spatial awareness thing - my driving instructor would say - you could drive a truck through there! I did one of those experiments once at the Science Museum where you had to press a buzzer when things were too close, and I nearly broke it.

    I can cook a roast but my husband makes the best roast potatoes so I normally let him do it.

    Happy gardening/cooking/disseminating!

  3. My advice is just attack the rose and the roast with more gusto! I have lots of roses and I just chop into them. Yes, look out for crossed branches etc but most roses love a good prune.
    Likewise, with the roast take a Curtis Stone approach and chuck it all in with plenty of garlic and rosemary. I ask the butcher how long to cook it for, but you can cheat and check.

  4. @In My House - I hope you're right because my roses pretty much ended up with a Brazilian yesterday.

  5. Sadly you're competing with some pretty significant roast memories, the Rentals being seriously talented. Ask Pops about it and you'll get a blow by bloe on oven temperatures and salt.

  6. @Maxabella I know - the bar is set high. I think that's the problem.

  7. Pruning is easy once you relax and just go for it. Dont worry too much. I took to one of mine (ancient huge rose) with a hedge trimmer once. Looked marvelous. Shauna

  8. Here's a wee bit of advice - lots of manure after pruning - a good bucketfull of chook manure will do nicely. Then alternate each month with cow manure and rose food.

    For the roast, buy yourself a meat thermometer - best $20 you'll ever spend. Massage it with olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, maybe spike it with a knife and stuff it with slivers of garlic, cook it at 170 degrees till brown - and the thermometer stuffed in the thickest part says it's done. Foolproof.

    PS; that second thing? I've no idea what you're even talking about there...

  9. @PinkPatentMaryJanes - You're right. That's exactly what I need. I do all the olive oil/seasoning/garlic thing, it's just the 'knowing when it's done' bit I miss out on sometimes. I'm going to get me one of them new-fangled therm-mom-metres. Thanks!

  10. I would have failed miserably on the first two. Gardening? Spatial awareness? Uh, no.
    I used to think I could make a roast dinner until I married a Brit and found out that I'm not the right nationality to make a proper roast which is handy because now he makes it. And he makes the best roast potatoes ever.

  11. Great to have some challenges. Full marks for trying with the roast lamb - one of my favourite meals. And hope your roses bloom again next year.
    PS - I've tagged you over at mine with some questions, should you wish to join in.

  12. I could totally relate to this post. I nearly killed our lemon tree when I pruned it a year after we moved into this house, I am terrible at reverse parking and while I am a reasonable cook, roasts and I just don't get along!


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