By Kathy Fawcett
How I came to be driving around on the night before Christmas Eve with a car full of large, uncooked roasts is still a little murky.
On Homestar Runner, Strong Bad said, "They let you return anything during the holidays. I once returned an omelet to a hardware store."
But who returns meat? Who returns perfectly good meat on the busiest grocery shopping day of the year? Good daughters do.
I avoid shopping between October and January. This stubbornness of mine caused me to avoid popping into Costco and getting the roasts I knew my mom wanted to cook on Christmas Eve for our 25 guests. It was my only assignment, other than to have my house ready to entertain.
I’d rather clean than cook, ideally doing neither. Mom, at 87, had been planning to come from Illinois and cook a holiday meal for her Michigan family. She’d been writing and rewriting her menu for weeks. She knew which of my bowls and platters she’d use. She knew when we’d shop, when she’d bake, and the precise moment she’d put the roasts in the oven on Christmas Eve. All I had to do was buy them.
Instead, I drove past Costco time and time again. Until, on the 22nd, my husband Steve and I left for last minute shopping errands. We got to Costco at 8:40 p.m. Costco had closed at 8:30. Who closes as 8:30 in December? On to Borders, Starbucks and then Kroger at 10:45 p.m. "Can you handle buying the roasts?" Steve asked from the heated driver’s seat of the Suburban. "Of course I can. How many kinds of roast can there be?" "Like a million…" he answered. Puh-leeze.
"These won’t do," said Mom. I had chosen bone-in roasts. So the next day (December 23rd) Steve went to the White Lake Market (known for their meats) for roasts. Mom looked at the bags filled with $60 worth of roast and frowned. "Well, I guess I’ll make them work."
Ripple dissolve to past Big Mom Meal conversations: "Great meal Kathleen!" (Repeated over and over.) "Well, if only Susan had let me put onions in the potato salad, it would have been better." (Again, repeated over and over.) Not on my watch!
Pack the car honey, the roasts and I are taking a little road trip. First stop, the packed parking lot of Kroger. They didn’t even make me grovel, just took the roasts and handed me $42.50 in cash. Score. Hanging on to the White Lake roasts for back up, I went to Costco. Crowded. No roasts. I tapped (a bit too hard, the butcher said) on the butcher’s window. "We had two this morning, but they’re gone. How about a tenderloin?" Those two should have been MINE! Curse you and your 8:30 closing, Costco. On to Meijer, my last hope. And there I saw it…the prize winning roast. The roast that Scrooge would have sent to the Cratchett family if the big turkey in the poulters window were already sold.
Ten solid pounds of my mother’s approval and happiness. Here at Quicken Loans we say "Take the Roast out of the oven." And in my kitchen, it had better be the right roast.