Monday, March 15, 2010

Flooding and Braised Short Ribs

What a weekend.

It started raining on Friday night.

It is now Monday morning and it is still raining, albeit, a drizzle.

But still.

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
Kosher Salt
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!


  1. With you, concerning the rain, big time. We are still in the midst of it, and it is getting ever so dreary...

    What a lovely home that will be. I have to admit to a small amount of envy :-)

  2. Oh wow. That house is going to be fantastic! My husband and I love log cabins and would someday love to be in one...Until then I will just live vicariously through you!

    Thanks for the recipe. I wish I could do the corned beef and cabbage for St. Patricks Day but I'll wait until I'm not breast feeding! I can definitely get on board with the short ribs, though:)

    I hope the basement isn't too much of a mess...

  3. Suldog - I'm sending DRY thoughts your way. The home is only in our minds and on a drawing board right now. The land is bought. With luck, time and God's will, we will get there... ever so slowly. We have a 5 year plan. In May we have a meeting with the builders and will get actual numbers $$ - until then it is fun to dream...

    Whitney - oh I DO remember the dietary restrictions on nursing moms - it seems like just yesterday I was one... enjoy - they grow up too fast. Make the short ribs, everyone will nap with the most amazing aromas in the air! We were lucky and diligent, other than a few spills on the floor from bailing from sink to sump, we stayed dry!!

  4. Flooding just plain stinks...Been there! And braised short ribs??? Be still my heart!

  5. That home is geogeous and I am so happy for you! Hope the rain goes away soon, it's great that you were able to prevent a disaster. These short ribs look divine and I will try them! Good luck with your catering job and have fun!

  6. I usually do Korean style beef short ribs, but this sounds tasty and tender.. Sorry about the flood- your log home looks great! If you want to see photos our log lodge, E-mail me!

  7. I've needed a good short rib recipe. When done right, they are really wonderful. Thanks for sharing during a tough time. BTW, we are also looking at log homes for our commune! I will follow your progress with increasing interest.

    Wow. So sorry about the sump pump problem! We had to replace one in our house in Minnesota. It sat among three huge ponds and sometimes we could hear it pumping constantly. It eventually burned out and it was recommended we get another asap. When they don't do their job, the mess is horrible. Hope all cleans up well. :-(

  8. I'm so sorry about your basement! YUCKY!

    Those ribs look amazing. I made your roasted sunchoke recipe last night and it was awesome! Had you not posted it I would have had NO CLUE what to do with them when our organics order came this week!

  9. Oh, wow!!! The new home builder looks fab!!! So sorry about your basement!!! And what a terrific recipe...and you are so informative!!! I didn't know that about cooking with alcohol! I'd always thought the alcoholic content was gone...thanks for the head's up...important when hosting pregnant guests ;-) See you when you get back! ~Janine XO

  10. I heard about the flooding in your area. We are just across the DE river in PA. I don't know about how it works in log cabins, but we have had a GEO system for 25 years and just replaced it for the first time. PECO very kindly gave us a nice rebate for energy saving and the feds will supply a tax break for next year. We love having GEO. I'll have to try your short ribs recipe.

  11. Sniffles - most people think as you do; that cooking burns off the alcohol content. It is surprising how much is retained.

    R.J. - I'm so excited to hear from a real live GEO user. I hope you will allow me to ask you a question or two from time to time!

  12. Your home is going to be so beautiful. I am very happy for you.

    Thank you for the alcohol info. I had no idea.


Wow. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I love feedback... what with being a cook and all. I will respond to your comments via email (if you do not have a "noreply" address or here, below your comment) As always, Bon Appetite!

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