What a weekend.
It started raining on Friday night.
It is now Monday morning and it is still raining, albeit, a drizzle.
On Saturday TBHITW and I went to a seminar presented by a company that specializes in Geothermal heating and cooling for log home construction.
We drove 3 hours in the pouring, and I mean, pouring rain. Wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour buffeted our car the entire way. Phew.
The seminar took place in the offices of Beaver Mountain Log Homes - this is who we will use to build our new home. We were able to browse the many different building plans and revisit one of the sample homes, which happens to be our favorite.
It is beautiful and I cannot yet grasp (or believe) that eventually this will be our home.
Here are a few pictures of the kitchen, living space and outside:
Meanwhile, back at the REAL ranch...
We arrived home around 6:00 pm and TBHITW noticed that the storm drain in front of our house was overflowing. He rushed into our basement and found water backing up in both of the laundry sinks and the sump pump... um, not NICE water either.. water from the sewer, um, yeah.
Did I mention that with the exception of the laundry room our basement is finished? As in carpeted and completely furnished.
So. Let the bailing begin. And bail we did. ALL NIGHT LONG. Thank the electric gods that we did not loose power like 1,000,000 other folks in the Northeast so our sump pump was able to keep pumping, and pumping and pumping. It is still pumping.
Our neighbor across the street was not so lucky. The fire department had to come and pump out her basement.
Have I ever mentioned that our little town is called the Venice of New Jersey? Yup. Normally very beautiful with little streams traversing all over town, some right through back yards. Not so picturesque when a winter hurricane blows through dumping 4 to 6 inches of rain in so many hours.
Sunday dawned dark, cloudy and you guessed it, rainy.
Short Ribs are the perfect winter, rainy day food. You take about 20 minutes to prepare them and let your stove or crock pot do the rest. Comfort food for when you need comfort from the rain, a cold, snow, bailing, mopping or whatever happens to be ailing you.
Braised Short Ribs: (serves 4)
Braise: a cooking method by which food (usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy period of time. The long, slow cooking develops flavor and tenderizes foods by gently breaking down their fibers. Braising can be done on top of the range or in the oven. A tight-fitting lid is very important to prevent the liquid from evaporating. - from Barron's "Food Lover's Companion"
Four Beef Short Ribs
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flour
2 stalks celery, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine*
1 cup beef broth
Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator 1 hour before beginning to cook in order to bring them to room temperature. Pay attention to the next part, it is VERY important:
DRY the short ribs off by patting them all over with a paper towel. Do this even if they don't look wet to you. I'll wait. Okay then, now sprinkle them all over with salt, pepper and a dusting of flour.
Heat the oil in a heavy dutch oven or heat proof casserole over medium high heat (that has a lid to match).
Brown the ribs all over - this takes about 10 minutes.
Remove ribs from pot and add the diced celery, carrots and shallot. Saute until soft and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one more minute.
Add the beef broth and wine* and bring to a simmer.
Make a garni out of the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf (if you don't have cheese cloth, use a tea bell, or just use loose - you'll have to fish them out of the pot later). Add the herbs.
Put the short ribs back in the pot. Turn the heat down to very low - you just want the bubbles in the broth to break the surface. Place a lid on the pot and walk away. Cook for about 3 to 4 hours, turning short ribs every hour or so.
When you are ready to eat. Remove short ribs from pot. You can use the broth as is, thicken it, or puree it using an immersion blender. Serve the sauce on the side.
I served these ribs with mashed potatoes laced with blue cheese crumbles and a simple mixed green salad. A loaf of bread on the side goes nicely for sopping up all that delicious broth.
A Cook's Notes: A few things about cooking with alcohol. First, be careful. Alcohol is extremely flamable. You should turn off the flame before adding wine, brandy, etc.. to a pot or saute pan.
Now then, many people believe that cooking burns off the alcohol content, leaving behind only flavor. Not true.
Braising (cooking for at least 2.5 hours) burns off 95% - leaving 5% alcohol
Simmering in a mixture for 1 hour burns off 75% - leaving 25%
Flamed (flambe) burns off only 25% of the alcohol - leaving 75%
If you are avoiding alcohol, substitute all beef broth for the wine in this recipe.
I'm leaving tomorrow for a two day catering gig. Wish me luck, I'll see you all at the end of the week. Until then, Bon Appetite and Happy St. Patrick's Day.
PS. You cook Corned Beef the same way as short ribs - ie: braise. No need to brown the corn beef. Use water instead of broth - don't use salt, use whole pepper corns and a bay leaf. Add whole baby potatoes and cut cabbage to the cooking water. Cover and cook for 3 - 4 hours. Corned Beef, Cabbage and Potatoes!