I have gone through three roasts trying to get this post done. After another fruitless week of looking in my local stores, I finally got a roasting rack (duh, Amazon!). Not sure what my hangup is about this Friday Night Dinner. Maybe I’m just sick of roast. Maybe it’s because I know that Chompers won’t eat any of it, and I’ll have to make him another meal regardless. Maybe it’s because a roast is a big meal for just two people. Wait! Lightbulb. I’ll cook the roast, we’ll eat it for the one dinner, then I’ll cube it up and assemble some beef stew freezer meals for after baby. Done and done. I’m feeling better about this already.

Or, maybe it’s because I’ve channeled Lorelai’s level of enthusiasm during this episode:

A Literary Feast -- Gilmore residence

Richard and Emily Gilmore’s imposing front entrance.

RORY: When are you going to tell them?
RORY: When’s soon?
LORELAI: When the big hand hits the “S” and the little hand hits the “OON.”
RORY: I think you should tell them now.
LORELAI: Ring the bell.
RORY: The longer you wait the harder it’s gonna be.
LORELAI: For the love of God, will you please ring the bell.
RORY: You can tell them before dinner.
LORELAI: I will tell them when I’m ready to tell them. You have to accept that because I’m the mother and you’re the daughter, and in some cultures, that means you have to do what I say.
RORY: If you don’t tell them in two weeks, I will.
LORELAI: Though apparently not in this one.

What heinous news does Lorelai not want to share with her parents? Oh, only that she’s getting married. To Max, whom her parents have never met. Break the news during a leisurely cocktail hour, perhaps? Her mother doesn’t give her the chance for that, whisking them off to the dining room while barking orders to the maid to put out the bread and pour the wine, hurry, hurry. Richard then whisks Rory off to make sure they aren’t at odds anymore, after the disastrous dinner involving Dean’s interrogation. Lorelai is left in the position she feels most awkward in… alone with her mother, who is totally focused on scarfing down her salad and not inclined to small talk. Lorelai’s ability to babble is never thwarted and she compliments her mother on the lemony salad dressing: “There’s nothing like a salad of lemony goodness!” Crickets. Apparently deciding that the vacuum of conversation was as good a time as any to take the plunge, she does, and tells her mother that she is engaged to Max. Maybe only slightly better than crickets, this is the response Emily gives: “Well, I think that’s very nice. I certainly hope we’ll be in town for it, but if not I promise we’ll send a nice gift. Now excuse me, I’m going to check on the roast.”

Obviously a very hurtful and tart statement (get it? lemons?), and Lorelai being Lorelai only sees it as a personal affront, never considering that there may be two sides to the story. That’s the rut that family relationships can get in. More on that later. The current rut is Emily Gilmore’s dinner menus. Salad, bread, and roast again? Well, at least I can try a different way of cooking roast, as well as a fun salad dressing. For the dressing, I used this recipe for Avocado Lemon Salad Dressing. It made me laugh that Emily could have sneakily included the dreaded avocados into Lorelai’s salad, tricking her into liking them (similar to toddler meal tactics). When I pinned the salad dressing recipe on Pinterest, my sister, who is both a lemon and Gilmore girls fanatic, immediately commented, “Nothing like a salad of lemony goodness!” Hmmm… I think she’s on to me. As for the roast, I discovered this cooking blog Closet Cooking a few years ago– probably first because my kitchen is also closet-sized–  and have really liked his recipes. So I went with his version of The Perfect Roast Beef.

A Literary Feast -- lemony salad

“Nothing like a salad of lemony goodness!”

The salad turned out great. Look what I found for a salad mix! Serendipitous. The only thing I changed was adding another lemon, because the original recipe tasted too vinegary and not enough lemony. The biggest success for this part of the meal was that in almost 10 years together, this is the first time my husband has ever gone back for more salad. Score!

Now for the roast– always an intimidating thing for me. I don’t know much about meat cuts, and always make the mistake of just buying one off the shelf. I need to learn from Lindsey (we’ll meet her in a few seasons) and get lots of advice from the butcher. Really. The recipe is simple, and I used a proper meat thermometer to cook it to the right temperature, but it was still kind of tough. Tasted great! But tough. I’m going to blame the cut of meat. And having sharper knives and knowing the best way to carve a big hunk of meat may help matters immensely, too. Baby steps here. I learn something new with every FND I make. (Note to self: go to YouTube and watch carving tutorials before next roast dinner.) At least the leftovers will get a nice slow cook time when I make them into beef stew. The gravy was yummy! Nothing like making gravy from fresh beef drippings. Sorry about no prep photos this time. I was in a rush to get this dinner on the table, rather like Emily. Here’s one of the plated roast. Hey, at least it looks pretty.

A Literary Feast -- roast dinner

Notice that I haven’t talked about Chompers’ reaction? As predicted, he didn’t eat it. Not only that– he wouldn’t even try a bite! That’s what gets me about toddlers. How do you know that you don’t like it until you try it?!? Maddening. Even Daniel Tiger’s jingle “You gotta try new food cause it might taste good!” didn’t do the trick this time. I read somewhere (sorry I can’t cite it, so here’s a paraphrase) that a toddler trying new food is like an adult answering an unknown phone call… just not worth the risk. Okay, I guess I can relate to that. But why can’t you just pretend that all of your mom’s work didn’t go to waste on you?

Lorelai asks Emily the same question: why don’t you pretend that you care? We hinted last time that it was Emily who saw the big picture and took steps to build bridges. What was the impetus? She found out from Sookie that Lorelai was engaged… and hadn’t bothered to tell her. That knowledge drove her to insist that Richard repair his argument with Rory before she followed in the steps of her mother and cut off communication. With Lorelai, however, the wound was too raw, and her knee-jerk reaction was to protect herself with a curt response. The fact is that Emily did care– very much. The slight hurt Emily deeply, and as a proud woman, she hated to show that vulnerability and instead fired back in return. Gosh, a family-systems therapist would have a heyday analyzing this group! I need to get my husband more involved…

Going back to my English degree roots, a character analysis of each of the main Gilmore girls characters would be such a fun project. Lorelai’s would include a lot of immaturity and selfishness, I’m afraid. The beauty of the writing for this series, though, is that we see character growth throughout. In this episode, Lorelai takes a (big) baby step in character development. At the end of the episode, she shows up at Emily’s door with this statement: “I don’t know how to tell you things Mom. Um, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this or not, but we don’t communicate very well. When something good happens to me, I’m just afraid you’re gonna make me feel bad about it. And when something bad happens to me, I’m always afraid you’ll say ‘I told you so.’ I’m not sure if that’s always fair, and I’m sure I share part of the blame for this circle we get into, but you think your words don’t have any effect on me, but they do. And, I just didn’t want to feel bad about this, so I waited. And I really didn’t mean to hurt you.”

That’s huge. That’s progress. That’s a hard thing to say to a family member. Another piece of the bridge is built. Water under the bridge is good, too. We have about a 6-week break between this episode’s storyline and the next one (although I’ll try to get it to you before that much time passes!). We’ll see which wounds time has healed and which ones it has brought to light. See you then!