Like many Southern women, I pride myself on my cooking. My Creamy Fried Confetti Corn is so good you'll want to smack your Grandma. No lie. And my Chocolate Pecan Pie? It's the surefire route to a marriage proposal. Trust me.
But like most contemporary women, balancing time-consuming homemade recipes and a busy schedule is a challenge. So I cut corners when I can.
A couple of Sundays ago, my family got together at my Dad's house to celebrate my brother's birthday. I volunteered to cook. I decided I'd make pot roast, hand-mashed potatoes and a big pot of fresh green beans (cooked with chopped onions, a chunk of pork fat and a bay leaf, naturally). But the weekend got busy and before I knew it it was time to head over to my Dad's to start cooking. I realized that there wasn't going to be time to make pot roast, or any other type of roast for that matter. So I committed the Cardinal Sin of Southern Womanhood. I bought a pre-cooked package of Hormel Beef Roast au Jus. Clearly I'm going straight to hell (in just three days if Christian calculations are correct). Lucky for me the end of days isn't scheduled to occur until 6 p.m. on the 21st, so I still have time to get my laundry done. But I digress.
It wasn't enough of a crime to serve the pre-packaged protein. Not for me, at least. I had the nerve to try to pass it off as my own recipe. Hormel as Homemade, if you will. So instead of popping the package into the microwave for four minutes as directed, I put it in a baking dish and baked it in the oven so it would look like I made it myself. Then I proudly served it along with my hand-mashed potatoes and special-recipe green beans. I should have known better.
At the dinner table, my sister said "What cut of meat is this? A chuck roast?" My reply: "Ummm. Pot Roast" (I never claimed to be a quick thinker). She mentioned that her husband is on a low-carb diet and said after dinner she wanted to get the recipe from me. I smelled a confession in my future.
After dinner my sister and I were cleaning up the kitchen and she asked me several pot-roast-related questions. I'm pretty sure she was being sincere, but I'm open to the possibility that she knew she had me nailed and she was screwing with me. I wouldn't put it past her - she's nobody's fool! So I finally dug deep, deep into the trash can in which I had buried the pre-packaged evidence and I confessed my crime. I'm a food fraud. A repast pretender. A dinner duper. I felt dirty.
The good news is that she was excited to find a really easy low-carb dish to tell her husband about. The bad news is that I'll forever live under a cloud of dietary distrust no matter how labor-intensive future meals may be. Oh, well. At least the beans were good.