Mystical Crock Pot Roast by Shelley Shepard Gray

Today’s blog post comes from beloved author Shelley Shepard Gray, whose Christmas novel, Peace, is available now. The first book in a her Return to Sugarcreek series, Hopeful, is on sale February 4th.

I suppose it was bound to happen. My children were underwhelmed by their home-cooked meal.

Perhaps I should explain.

Just last week, my children, now 21 and 22, both came home early for Thanksgiving break.  One is a junior in college, the other a senior. When they decided to come home not on Wednesday (like we had planned), but on Tuesday (which was a surprise), it kind of threw me in a tailspin. I had revisions due on a book. I was planning to use all of Tuesday and part of Wednesday to get most of it done so I could be in total ‘Mom’ mode when they were here.

I’ll admit it. Their eagerness to get home kind of threw me off. Especially when they told me on Monday night how much they were anticipating a real, home-cooked meal. Neither my husband nor I had time to run to the store, so we opened the freezer and searched. And found what we were sure was a freezer gem: One  frozen roast. Hooray!

Ever since they were little, ‘Stringy Meat’ has been a standby at our house. Into the Crock Pot went one roast, assorted vegetables, a can of soup, and lots of salt and pepper. In 8 hours, it’s done–the meat cooked so long it kind of falls apart on the fork, hence its name. Then I’d make up mashed potatoes, my husband would make the gravy, and dinner was done. When the kids were 6 or 13 or 16? They loved this meal! I was really pleased. Now I could work on my book and be Mom of the Year.

SSG Pot Roast

Anyway, when they arrived last Tuesday afternoon, I was so happy to see them.  After we visited for a bit, I ran back downstairs and worked on my book…then three hours later, ran upstairs, and called everyone to dinner.

Having the four of us back together was great. The kids were sweet, everyone was happy. And they did eat. But, well, they didn’t look all that enthused. When we were doing the dishes, I asked what was wrong.

My son shrugged. “Nothing, Mom. Dinner was fine.”

Fine? This was one of their favorite meals! So I kind of prodded a bit. “Are you sure?”

“It’s just that you’ve given us both crock pots and now I make this all the time. I think the mystique has worn off.”

Yes, he really did say mystique. And I really was quite miffed.

Until I remembered that he’d asked for a crock pot soon after he moved into his own place and got tired of eating out all the time. And he was delighted the first time he made it because it tasted just like home. And that he makes stringy meat all the time now for him and his girlfriend and his roommates. This little crock pot meal has become his go-to dish when he’s tired and stressed. Just like it had been mine for 20 years.

So, though this isn’t fancy or full of mystique, I’d like to share with you my recipe for Stringy Meat. It’s easy, filling, not too expensive, and it might impress your family for a good 20 years too…Until, well, they learn that they, too, can make it on their own.

Merry Christmas!

Shelley Shepard Gray

Stringy Meat

One 3- to 4-pound pot roast (whatever is on sale)

1 can Campbell’s beef consommé soup

3 or 4 carrots, scrubbed and sliced (or 1 bag of baby carrots)

3 or 4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 yellow onion, diced

2 potatoes, peeled and diced (or omit and make mashed potatoes)

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker with about 2 cups water. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Cook 8 hours on low setting.

Serves 4 or 5 people.

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