Category Archives: Uncategorized

Perfect Pot Roast–Grass Fed Goodness

Between the Cook’s Illustrated method and glorious grass fed beef goodness, I could go on and on about how the tradition of Sunday beef roast must have started here with this recipe. WOW.  It has me dreaming of how I can always have a supply of grass fed beef in my life.  The beauty and, probably the reason, why pot roast was so popular ‘back in the day’, is the simplicity of pot roast.  Ten minutes of work and 3-4 hours of oven time and you are a queen of the kitchen with ‘melt in your mouth beef’ and deep flavored gravy.

Perfect Pot Roast

3- 3 1/2 pound roast (seven bone, top blade or chuck eye)

2 tablespoons bacon fat or oil

1 medium onion

4 carrots

4 stalks of celery

2 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1 cup each, chicken and beef broth

1 teaspoon thyme


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Remove roast from refrigerator.  If the roast has been frozen, be sure it’s completely thawed. Generously sprinkle kosher salt and pepper on both sides of roast and let it rest on a rack  at room temperature while you prepare vegetables.

Chop vegetables into large pieces and place in food processor.  Whirl until finely chopped.


Heat bacon fat in dutch oven until shimmering.  Brown roast on both sides.

Remove roast and place on plate.

Saute vegetables in dutch oven until soft and browned.

Add garlic and sugar and stir an additional 30 seconds.  Pour in broths and bring to a simmer.

Return roast to dutch oven,  pouring in any juice on the plate.  Add additional water, if necessary to bring water level halfway up roast.

Cover with a large sheet of foil.

Cover and place in preheated oven.  Bake for 3-4 hours.

To make a simple gravy, remove roast from dutch oven, tent with foil.  Stir 1/4 cup of flour with 1/2 cup cold water to make a slurry; pour into the vegetables/broth and bring to boil.  When it is the thickness you like, you are ready to serve.



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Vegan “Cheese” Casserole

This was going to be Vegan Mac and Cheese post until I realized that rice noodles were the only vegan pasta I had on hand.  I have been attempting to expand my vegan cooking/baking I do for my vegan son.  Mostly, it’s been Bean Enchiladas for ages.  Lately, I have been filling the enchiladas with not only beans but sauteed tofu, onions and chopped red pepper.

But I digress.  I did some research of recipes online for vegan mac and cheese and found a recipe that used not only nutritional yeast (a common favorite for the “cheese” taste) but sweet potatoes.  I was intrigued.  It passed my son’s taste test so here’s the recipe with my changes, comments and pictures.

Vegan “Cheese” Casserole

6 TB nutritional yeast flakes

1 1/2 cup soy milk

3 steamed and mashed sweet potatoes

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon pepper or, to taste

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup chopped onion

Rice noodles, approximately 12 ounces

Crumb Topping

1 cup Panko

1/4 cup vegan margarine

1 teaspoon veggie seasoning

Measure soy milk and add to a medium mixing bowl.

Add nutritional yeast, vinegar and pepper

Press garlic to mince

Chop onion.  The next time I make this, I will saute the onion in oil to soften and mellow the taste.  An improvement suggested by the recipient.

Whisk onion into yeast mixture

Steam sweet potatoes.  I am a huge fan of the microwave steam bags; easy and FAST.  Remove peels.

Mash until creamy

Soak rice noodles in hot water until soft

Melt margarine in small saucepan.  Add Panko and seasoning.

Mix until Panko is thoroughly coated

Stir softened noodles into sauce

Coat noodles

Place in baking dish.  I found these small foil pans at the Dollar Store.  They are the perfect size for small meals, made ahead.

Top with crumbs

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until nicely browned.

I liked this picture so much, I had to add it at the beginning and end.

More vegan recipes to come! 🙂


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Filed under Eating well, Lunch, Main Dish, Uncategorized, Vegan

Firewood 101


We are digressing from food to fuel this post.  We hope you don’t mind………although we don’t often have to use firewood to cook our food, it certainly does happen when those winter storms turn us back a century to preparing our meals on our wood stove.

We had an especially wet spring with summer barely showing up in late July.  All this extra rain made us realize our aging roof could not possibly tolerate another drenching winter of 100+ inches of rain.  (Our rain forest we fondly call “the mountain” makes Portland look almost balmy and dry.  When they are getting a mist, we are experiencing downpours.)

Ah….but can we re-roof and leave all the factors that prematurely age a roof?  So there you go, or rather, there THEY go…….the trees surrounding our property making our home a small swath in the towering trees of Hockinson mountain had to be removed.

We found it very entertaining to watch the tree fellers at work.

First they remove branches.


This is why you pay money to have someone do this!

Feeling dizzy?

How about this one?

Next up is cutting into rounds.

and more rounds

and still more rounds


All this “rounding” left us with piles and piles and piles of rounds of firewood needing to be split,  stacked and covered.  We had somewhere around 20 trees felled. Our real work began.

My photographer husband has been splitting wood for us for almost 35 years.  Here are his favorite tools:  Gloves, Maul, Split wedge

Firewood 101……how to split:

Find a check mark

Tap in the splitting wedge halfway between the end of the check and the outside edge of the round.

Continuing pounding until the round is split in half. You can use the maul to pry the halves apart, if needed.

To further split the halves, a firm, hard surface works well.  A freshly cut tree stand is high enough to keep from too much bending.

These steps repeated numerous times results in a pile like this:

Unfortunately for us, all this firewood was downhill from where it needed to be stacked.  So hours and hours of moving it uphill with a combination of throwing(where it was too steep to carry), carrying (where it was too steep to wheelbarrow) and wheelbarrow-ing brought us to the pallets (the favored surface to stack wood in our aforementioned wet climate).

A level pallet, air space between rows and 6 ml plastic sheeting protects all that hard work.

If you don’t have a tree to be an end to start your stack, a crosswise stack can suffice.


We had so much wood to protect that we bought a box of 6 ml plastic sheeting 10ftx100ft; we cut on the fold lines, making four 30″ x 100 ft lengths. These strips are kept in place with small, flat head nails.

Here’s a typical row

Our stacks are Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar on the bottom, as those woods last the longest, topped with Alder, Maple and other various NW trees.

On to the roof in pictures:

Delivery Day

All ready for the crew

Men at work

More men at work

In a little over one day

Wish we could say the same about the firewood… has been an odyssey of over 5 months and counting…….but we are nearing the end.  It looks like perhaps 15 cords of wood will be ready for fueling our home thanks to the tireless efforts of my photographer husband.

Winter chill, come.







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Simply Steelhead on the Grill

Costco strikes again with beautiful fillet steelhead!  My photographer wanted to share his method of bbq’ing, our favorite way to eat it :).

He likes to cut the fillet into about 2 inch pieces…the tail section will be longer and narrower, of course.

Heat the grill to medium and spray with PAM.

Place the fish skin down on the grill and give the pieces a moderate salting.  DO NOT CLOSE LID of bbq.

After a few minutes, flip the fish; if you see grill sear marks you are done with that side; if not, give them a few more minutes.

When you are satisfied with your grill marks, you should be able to peel the skin off.  The grayish fat layer will be exposed.  Scrap this off with the end of your spatula.

Ick.  Throw this out.

Salt this side.  Grill this side until when you push down with your spatula at the thickest point, the fish feels firm.  Now turn the heat up to briefly to brown the skin(now removed) side of the fish.  DO NOT OVERCOOK!  You are just giving it the beauty treatment.


~M, our competent photographer and grill master

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Falling for Sweet Potatoes

“Sweet potatoes” Do you think of Thanksgiving dinner, whipped up with marshmallow topping?  Or have you joined the foodies who are always finding a new way to add these nutrition power houses to your diet?  In 2008, Cook’s Illustrated published a recipe for roasted sweet potatoes that changed how we most frequently eat sweet potatoes, forever.  With their science editors and multiple testings, they came up with a method that insures, every time, perfectly tender, over-the-top sweet potatoes.  They are even good cold from the frig for a healthy snack!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

6 medium sweet potatoes

Trim ends, peel and slice into 3/4 inch rounds

Toss with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

2 tablespoons oil…..I used coconut oil, which out of my cupboard, looks like this:

Into my microwave for 10 seconds to liquify.

Pour oil over potatoes and stir to coat each slice.

Line a baking sheet with foil , spray with PAM and spread slices on sheet.


Cover tightly with foil.


Place in cold oven on middle rack and turn oven to 425 degrees.  Bake 30 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully remove foil covering.

Place back in oven for 15 to 25 minutes until golden brown on top.

Remove pan from oven and flip slices over.  Return to oven to brown remaining side, 18 to 22 minutes.

When you love the way they look :); take the pan out and let them cool 5-10 minutes.


Who knew healthy could taste so good?






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Filed under Eating well, Side Dishes, Uncategorized, Vegan

Happy 100 Posts to Graceful Table!

Yes, you read that right!  Graceful Table has published ONE HUNDRED posts!  Since GT has been silent since February 2011 until just last week, it is cause to celebrate.  “Thank you” to those of you who still visited this site even without any new posts.  We hope for more posts and more recipes for all of you in the coming months.  We can’t express enough how we value your comments and ideas or corrections.  We SO ENJOY hearing from you :).



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Steelhead-A Fish Story

Have you tried the fresh farm raised Steelhead at your local Fred Meyer yet???  I know this “locates” me to the Pacific Northwest, but this fish is worth a post just to motivate those who can shop for this, to do so!  Our middle son is working as a fish monger at Fred Meyer. He has been surprised how many people dismiss “farm raised” fish.  This fish is raised in a free running section of the Columbia river near the Canadian border so compares to our grass fed beef! They have been running specials on this fish at $2.99 a pound…a typical fish weighs 5-8 pounds.  The store will clean and fillet the whole fish for you.  If you love salmon, you are missing out to NOT buy this fish, especially at this price.  And, if you are like me and have a wonderful husband to BBQ it for you, then you will never need to visit your local fish restaurant again.


Cut into 2 inch wide sections along the length of the fish.

BBQ on moderate heat  on skin side first until bbq marks appear.

Flip to meat side and scrape off skin and fat.

I know this looks disgusting but you are discarding this stuff!

This fish has enough fat to stay moist if you are careful to not overcook meat side.  Flip and finish off the skin side (without the skin–you have discarded, it, remember???).

Heart healthy bliss.  We even like it for breakfast :).



Filed under Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Main Dish, Uncategorized