Ah, here it is…autumn cooking. Isn’t there something special about autumn? Apples, crock pot creations, baked sweet potatoes, spaghetti? The kitchen is in constant ‘good smell’ mode in autumn.
I haven’t posted in a while because our family has been in a little bit of turmoil. Yes!Chef! started a new job today (day job, not chef job). We’ve had a rather tumultuous 1&1/2 years with Yes!Chef! being out of work sometimes and working part time in a full time job and other economic absurdities that I won’t go in to right now. We’ve also been trying to remodel my parents’ house. None of this is bad, it’s just been difficult for Yes!Chef! to spend a day or two putting together a dinner.
We have been having fun, though. In September, we went to the “Sample the Sierra” outdoor event with my daughter and her new husband. They had local chefs pairing their food with some of the local wineries. It was crowded and smoky, but a good time.
I even ran into a musician for whom I did a photoshoot for a CD cover about 5-6 years ago. He plays a mean slide guitar.
As September moved into October, I began to plan for my best friends from Southern California’s annual visit known as The Bee Retreat. I think I have mentioned The Bees before, but they are a bit of a mystery and we do have a saying: WHITSIT. What happens in Tahoe, Stays in Tahoe. So, I can’t get real specific.
You can see from the above photo that we kept ourselves quite busy, even though they were only here for 4 1/2 days.
We did go for a ride on the Tahoe Queen over to Emerald Bay. I have lived in this area all my life, but I have never been on the Tahoe Queen. I can remember as a kid, sitting on the beach in the summer watching the Tahoe Queen go by on it’s trips back and forth to Emerald Bay. I always dreamed about one day taking a ride on that beautiful paddle wheel. So, it was a huge treat for me to be able to do that with some of my dearest friends.
It was a wonderful ride, blue skies, blue lake and, of course, an emerald bay.
It took about an hour on the lake before we arrived in Emerald Bay. we kept ourselves busy with some champagne, wine and/or other beverages. One of The Bees had a great concoction that looked like the color of Emerald Bay.
When the paddle wheel entered the Bay, we went to the upper deck to view the beautiful sights of Lake Tahoe and Emerald Bay. It was a glorious fall day. Not cold at all and the bay was as emerald as I have ever seen it. I think it is difficult to see the true color of the Bay from the viewing spots high above. The 1 mile hike down to the bay from the parking lot is a little steep, but the trail is well-maintained. The hard part is hiking back up, because even the most gentle of slopes is difficult when you are ascending 400-500 feet and the starting point is 6100 feet above sea level. So, if you come…bring oxygen. (Just kidding.)
There are two paddle wheel boats you can take into the Bay: The Tahoe Queen and the M.S. Dixie. I have been on both, now, and I think The Queen is a bit more elegant. But, that could just be that I am nostalgic about The Queen.
The castle on the shore of Emerald Bay, known as Vikingsholm, was built in 1929 for a Mrs. Knight who lived here during the summer months and entertained many guests.
Here’s an interesting website about the castle and the little tea house on Fannette Island, which is probably more well-known than the huge castle on the shore. Vikingsholm Castle.
You can see that we had a great time.
My friends drove up from Southern California (except for my friend who lives in Sacramento) on a Thursday and they always expect some sort of tasty dinner when they arrive. I like to use the crock pot because I never know exactly when they will arrive, so the crock pot works well. This Crockpot Balsamic Pot Roast recipe was just the ticket. Bonus: it is a really, really easy recipe.
I also made some crashed sweet potatoes and some buttered green beans. I did not make the noodles for them, but they loved the crashed potatoes, so it was okay.
Here’s our recipe:
Crockpot Balsamic Pot RoastServes: 6-8Ingredients
- 1 3-4 pound boneless roast beef (chuck or round roast)
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 cup good beef broth
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3-4 cloves garlic, choppedInstructions
- Bring roast to room temperature. Season the roast with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat skillet to medium high and add olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add roast and sear on both sides to a nice brown color. This step is not absolutely necessary, if you don’t have time in the morning when you make it, but it adds a great depth of flavor.
- Place roast beef into the your slow cooker or crock pot. Mix together all remaining ingredients. Pour over roast beef. Cook on high 4 hours or 6-8 hours on Low. Don’t remove the top to take a peek because it breaks the water seal and adds to the time it will take to achieve the desired tenderness. (I’m serious!)
- Once roast beef has cooked for the desired amount of time, remove from slow cooker and place into your serving dish (preferably with sides so that the gravy will not spill out.) Cut or shred (with forks) the roast beef and lightly tent with foil until you are finished with the gravy.
- Remove as much fat as you can from the crock pot pan drippings using a fat separator. Place remaining drippings in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium high heat and simmer until the gravy is reduced by about half. Pour gravy over roast and serve!
As mentioned above, serve with buttered egg noodles and a veggie. This recipe is so easy and tasty that I know it will become one of your favorites. My friends, The Bees, loved it and the left overs were almost better than the fresh made. You can also leave out the red pepper flakes if you are a little squeamish about heat, but I wouldn’t do it. In fact, I might add a bit more. The kick is very subtle as the long cooking process takes some of the heat out of it.
If you visit Lake Tahoe, you really need to see Emerald Bay. It truly is a national treasure. And! you can have this tasty crock pot meal waiting for you when you return.