How to cook a roast

Everyone knows the proper way to cook a roast is to shave at least seven cm off one end.

Everyone knows the proper way to cook a roast is to shave at least seven cm off one end.

Or at least that’s what Louise had always thought. Her Grandmother had cooked it that way, her mother had cooked it that way and so when her turn came to cook the roast, she did the same.

Who knows how many more generations might have subscribed to this unique style of roast preparation, if her Grandma hadn’t arrived early on the Sunday Louise was hosting her very first family dinner and observed her granddaughter dutifully carving that thick slice off one end of the roast.

“Why are you doing that dear?” she asked.

“I don’t really know,” Louise confessed.

“I think it’s supposed to open the roast up to being flavoured by the seasoning, or help it cook more even or something like that.

“Why are you asking me? After all, it’s how you and Mom always cooked the roast.”

At this admission her grandmother promptly collapsed across the counter top in a fit of convulsions. No she didn’t have a seizure and die, she was just laughing so hard she could no longer trust her legs to hold her up.

When Louise’s grandma had regained her composure enough to speak, she wiped a few tears from her eyes and explained to her somewhat annoyed granddaughter the reason behind the slicing of the roast.

“Do you remember the roasting pan your mother and I always used?”

“Of course I do. It was a dark blue enamel one with little daisies on the lid.”

“The daisies weren’t the only thing that was little. The whole pan was small.

“I brought it with me when I came over from England. It had belonged to my mother and had great sentimental value, or I would have just tossed it and bought a bigger one. It was silly of me, I know.

“Your mother turned out to be as big a sentimental fool as I was. When she started having the Sunday dinners she insisted on using the same roasting pan.

“It was still too small, so she had to do the same thing I had always done. She had to slice the end off of the roast to fit as much as she could into the pan.”

Louise was not sentimental.

When she proposed taking over the Sunday dinners she had declined her mother’s offer of the old battered roasting pan. Instead she had bought a beautiful red ceramic roaster to match the rest of her shining new cookware.

Now she looked down at her big roasting pan with the sliced off roast sitting in the middle like a lonely little island and tried to work out whether to join her grandma who had relapsed into a fresh fit of laugher or flee the room altogether and lock herself in the bathroom in a fit of mortification.

She decided to phone her mother instead. “I’m glad I caught you before you left,” she said when her mother answered on the third ring.

“I’ve changed my mind. I would like to use the old roasting pan after all. Could you bring it with you when you come?”

After she hung up she grinned at her grandma, waved her hand at the new roaster and said, “It was way too big anyway.”

“Sentimental young fool,” her grandma said, pretending to look exasperated.

But Louise could tell that her grandma was secretly pleased that the tradition would live on, just as her mother had been on the phone even though she had simply said, “Well if you’re sure you want the old thing, I guess I could bring it along.”

However, Louise promised herself right then and there that if she ever had children of her own she would tell them long before they ever inherited the family roasting pan the reason why she always sliced off the end of the roast before putting it into the battered up blue enamel pan with the little painted daisies on the lid.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country. You can check out past columns by visiting or send Shannon an email at