I fought the Pot, and We Both Won

I took a step back.  I researched and studied.  And I stand (well, sit actually) here proudly and ready to share that I may have lost the battle, but the Instant Pot lost the war.   Yes, I’m dramatic, get used to it.  Just to recap, I attempted to make a pot roast in this beastly kitchen appliance a few weeks ago and was sadly disappointed.  I walked away damaged and destroyed by an electrical object.  However, my mama raised no quitter.  The internet may have a lot of fake news, but when it comes to the Instant Pot, it’s legit!

Not only did I win, but I made the best meal we have had in over a year.  I’m no Gordina Ramsey, but I’ve got chops in the kitchen.  I’ll admit, I can’t take much credit for the succulent pile of tender and juicy pot roast that was lifted out to a chorus of ooh’s and ahhh’s tonight.  Here’s the shocker . . . the roast wasn’t the star.  When preparing this most loved meal I always make mashed potatoes.  My potatoes are good, and I’ve perfected the recipe from a combination of friend’s recipes over the years.  But these potatoes?  I’d like to think they were amazing and the best I have ever had.

First of all, if you have come here for a healthy recipe, you will be disappointed.   If you have come here for a recipe in general, stay tuned, you’ll get that when I am able to recreate this genius and record it.  Let me just say, the potatoes cooked with the meat for 2hrs on high pressure.  After a natural decompression I then prepared them as if I were making mashed potatoes like any other day.  The magic was in how they were seasoned and cooked in the Instant Pot.  These potatoes tasted like GRAVY!  I’m not joking.  I didn’t even make gravy because these potatoes turned out so flavorful that we didn’t need it.  The meat was juicy, and every bite was like you didn’t deserve it for free.

I have a saying I live by: If you didn’t learn anything, go back and look again.  I truly believe this applies to every part of our lives, even in the kitchen.  After my first instant pot disaster I had to go back and figure out what went wrong and how I couldn’t get a stinkin’ kitchen appliance to comply.  It wasn’t easy and I’ll admit, there have been 2 other massive failures prior to this most excellent success.  But there is a bigger picture here, no matter what, keep going.  And yes, I just took this journey to an entirely different level.

In the kitchen, in the bedroom, heck, even in the bathroom, pretty much anywhere, if you feel like a failure, like there is no way to succeed . . . you just keep going.  I sat down to blog tonight and caught myself flipping through pictures.  Isn’t digital media amazing?  I love that I can tap something, swipe another, or just speak to Alexa and I have my past looking back at me.  This Instant Pot war reminded me of my mom.  She couldn’t cook for crap.  Seriously, the lady had eight recipes and rotated them with Chinese take-out, Little Caesars Pizza-Pizza, and Arby’s.  But this lesson goes beyond the kitchen, it reminded me of my moms’ tenacity and her incomparable desire to be the best she could be.

This woman fought a rare cancer for 16 years.  She fought for two years prior to that to even get a doctor to listen to her and believe something was wrong.  She died on April 6, 2012.  She did not die from cancer.  Cancer did not win.  She passed due to all the complications and damage that years of chemotherapy had done to her heart and her lungs.  She experienced remission three times!  Her last breath was on her own terms, with her family by her side, and with no shame.  Would she have wanted another day?  Absolutely.  But she lived her life and lived it well.  She didn’t let the little things, or the big things derail her for long.  And when she noted a derailment, she made the corrections. 

My mom (front left) with my grandma, aunts, and uncles (2009).

“We aren’t supposed to be perfect; we’re supposed to be whole”.  I heard Jane Fonda say that once.  We get whole by seeking out the lessons, learning, rebuilding, and trying again.  In the face or aftermath of disaster, we must keep going.

A picture of our meal, or even an Instant Pot seems appropriate.  But instead, I decided to throw in some pics of the reason I keep moving.  We all have them; we just need a reminder from time to time.  Sure, some of these pictures remind me of heartache, rough times, lost love, and moments I’d love to bury. I won’t bury them because they remind me what I’ve learned and where I’ve come from.

“Sing (Sing a Song . . . Sing Out Loud)”

Do you think music has changed over the years?  The other day I was relaxing and chatting with my amazing little four-year-old granddaughter, Ari.  In the background the Beatles “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” was bopping away and Ari was humming and swaying to the music.  It got me thinking, does the music we hear now affect us the way music did when we were younger?  Let’s discuss . . .

My mom was an interesting character.  She was a strong independent and opinionated woman.  She paved a path thought to be unconventional and often exceled at anything she set out to do.  Anyone that spent a few hours with her walked away knowing her love of music.  My siblings and I were raised with a fantastic musical tapestry to highlight not just moments, but life in general.  We grew up on Jim Croce, Elton John, Billy Joel, Iron Butterfly, George Michael, Paul McCartney, The Beatles, Wham, Chicago, Phil Collins, The Carpenters, Don McLean, Anne Murray, and so many others I can’t even begin to name them all.  But these here, these were the classics that forged a musical medley for everyone in our household.

Road trips are etched in my memory not for the excitement and destinations, but for the “mix” tapes mom would make in preparation for the car rides.  I use the term “mix” loosely because the woman didn’t mix anything!  She would record one song, back-to-back, over and over, one after the other for the entire side of a cassette tape.  If we were lucky, she’d change it up and have a different song on the B side.  We weren’t always lucky.  This, my friends, is the sole reason I know every word to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”, “Careless Whispers”, and “Love Song”.

These artists and their tunes are simple.  Simple isn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it is so different from what I hear when I turn on the radio or give Alexa a bit of choice in my song selections.  Play a few older songs, then turn on the radio.  Do you notice the difference?  I won’t lyric hate.  I believe that if all the annoyance and distraction is stripped away from several modern songs, the lyrics are stunning and can and do stand on their own.  But when did it become necessary to add all that junk in behind the words?  I’ve learned in my old age that I like simple.  I love the genuine flow of a song that allows the words to do all the work, no bass drop needed.

I will also admit that these older songs aren’t always peppy.  That’s for another discussion!  My kids will openly inform you that I’m boring and my music is like attending a funeral.  That is not true!  But I do like calm tunes to back up my day.  I can get excited and rowdy all on my own, I don’t need music to yell at me and tell me to “jump” or that “thunder” is coming.

Where am I going with this?  I have no idea.  But I will say this, music transports me.  Music has become not only my soul grounder, but my way of communication.  Life gets messy and we forget to stop and take a minute or three for ourselves.  Take time today to sit and listen to a song you haven’t heard in a while.  Before you know it, it’ll be 35 minutes later, and you’ll have taken a journey in your head to places near and far.  Even better, share those songs with your kids!  When my kids are caught humming songs from well before their time, I count it as a parenting win.  Are you winning today? 

As much as I love all genres of music, nothing gets me like the oldies.  Phil Collins knew me well; Rod Stewart speaks my language, and in the calm of the night, Paul, Ringo, John, and George sung me many lullaby’s.  Rhianna, Imagine Dragons, and Ed Sheeran just don’t have the same effect on me.