Hartley: You have to believe we are magic | AspenTimes.com

Hartley: You have to believe we are magic

I’ve been on a bit of a rant for the past month here at “I’m With Stupid,” and I think maybe it’s not the best thing for my blood pressure. Thus, I’ve decided to take a week off from ranting to focus on more positive things.

Usually when I do this, I have to rack my brain for column ideas because positive things aren’t all that funny. Comedy, which I aspire to even while ranting, depends on conflict. This time around, though, after very little thought, I knew I had something.

I started off thinking I would do the first-ever installment of “Cooking With Stupid,” but after some reflection, I realized there was a bigger story to be told, so I will relate to you the miracle, or rather miracles, of the roast. You can make of it, or them, what you will.

First of all, you should know that I consider myself magic. I mean, not like Harry Potter or Harry Houdini. It’s nothing fictional or illusory. Mostly, my wizardry consists of occasionally thinking of a song and having it start playing next. (I had a great one a few weeks ago when I willingly conjured up “Like a Rolling Stone” on the radio for my son.)

The magic involved with the roast miracles, however, was on a whole other level, and I’m at odds to explain it. It started when I was at the supermarket with my son and thought, in a rare moment of selflessness (miracle No. 1), that I should invite the neighbors over for Easter dinner. I took out my phone to call my neighbor Rudolf (not his real name) and saw that he’d just called me but I’d missed it (miracle No. 2).

I started to call Rudolf back, and at that very moment one of his sons came walking up and said that Rudolf was in the next aisle (miracle No. 3). So I wheeled my cart over to him and asked about Easter dinner. He said they were free and I suggested we get a roast. He liked that idea, so I headed for the meat department to see what I could find.

Now, when I suggested a roast, I was thinking of something in the pot, chuck or pork realms. I long ago stopped looking at rib-eye roasts, figuring I’d never cook something that expensive. But that day, the roasts had yellow sale stickers on them, so on a whim I went and checked them out, and that’s when the magic really kicked in.

The price? $5.99 a pound, down from infinity or whatever they used to cost. They were cheaper per pound than friggin’ tilapia. Talk about a miracle (No. 4). Hell yeah, I bought a rib-eye roast. The only problem was now I had to cook a rib-eye roast, something I’d never even thought of doing, and I had to do it well or I’d ruin Easter. Most of the time when I screw up cooking, it just costs me a couple of 20-cent packages of ramen.

The other problem was that Rudolf, in addition to being a man of deep faith, is a great cook and could probably have done a much better job with the roast than the one I figured I was about to do. The pressure was definitely on.

Well, anyway, I seasoned the roast, seared it and roasted it on a rack in a roasting pan in an oven set at 250 for about three hours until the meat was 130 degrees. (There’s your “Cooking With Stupid” part.) It was ridiculously easy, and it was the best thing I’ve ever cooked. But like I said, there’s nothing funny about things turning out perfectly (miracle No. 5).

As for all the magic, it was Easter, so one might be tempted to believe that Jesus died and was reborn so that I could cook a perfect rib-eye roast. Maybe Jesus even guided my eye to the roasts and steered my hand so I didn’t screw everything up. Maybe.

But I like to think it was my own personal spiritual magic that made the miracles happen. It’s better than thinking I’m just a paunchy, middle-aged bald guy with no magic.

Actually, come to think of it, Rudolf’s a middle-aged guy who is much more spiritual than I am. He’s still got his hair on his head, he got to eat perfectly cooked prime rib, too, and all he had to do was bring the potatoes. Maybe it was all his magic.

Todd Hartley’s Easter dinner would have cost about $1,248.76 in Aspen. To read more or leave a comment, please visit http://zerobudget.net.

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