Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Oxtail Soup (in slow cooker)

2 pounds oxtail
3 carrots
4 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can great northern (white) beans (low-carb, skip this)
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp oregano (or thyme)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tablespoon beef bullion
2 cups turkey broth (or beef. Or water)

olive oil

Note before you start: this is one of those things that really, really works better with 12 hours in the crockpot. If you only have 6 hours, make something else.

Start by roasting the oxtails. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C), coat oxtails in salt, pepper, olive oil. Stick in oven for 15 minutes. Contemplate this would probably work broiling. Worry about it. Open the door, poke at them, then give them another 5 minutes to get really nice and brown.

While they're roasting, pull out a 4-quart slow cooker. (You can always make it bigger by adding more stuff). Chop carrots, celery, onion. At this point, you can saute them first for greater flavor, or you can just dump them in for greater ease.

Add tomatoes and beans to slow cooker. (You could always chop up a potato or two and add that instead, or a handful of barley. Or be low-carb, and stick with just the carrots.) Add wine, Worcestershire sauce, and spices. Take oxtails out of oven before they burn, add them & their fat & pan juices to the slow cooker.

Dump a tupperware of turkey broth on top, to clean out your deep freezer, and add a heaping spoonful of beef better-than-bullion on top, to cover the turkey taste with beef. Or, if you don't need to clean your deep freezer, add some water, beef bullion, and maybe a little more wine. And drink some wine. I used a nice chambourcin. Don't cook with anything you're not willing to drink!

Turn the slow cooker on low, and leave it alone for at least 8 hours. Then pull the oxtail chunks out, and shred the meat off the bones. If you left it for 12 hours, this pretty much consists of the meat falling away in lovely shreds while you fish the bones out of the soup. If you didn't, return the meat to the soup. Serve!

I served it with a salad & the rest of the bottle of wine. And some oyster crackers on top, because I felt like it.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Happy Hanukkah

When all seems darkest, and the only choices appear to be a spread of dystopias, when it seems that all is blood, and fire, and ashes, and persecution...

Remember, the Children of Israel are still here.

They've seen Assyrians and Hittites, been slaves in Babylon and exiles in the Siberian gulags. They've wandered down into deepest Africa, and across the sea to undiscovered continents full of howling wilderness. And still they carry the Torah with them.

Despite being conquered, again and again, enslaved, and massacred in many languages, by many tribes, as the words changed from pogrom to genocide, they still light the candles on the menorah.

And so, let us celebrate again that though world has burned before and will yet burn again, still hope will live on with laughter, light, and love long after today's conquerors are tomorrow's dust.

And so goes the heart of many a Jewish holiday: "They tried to kill us. They failed. Let's eat!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The past is another country...

Tonight, we were going through boxes in the storage unit that haven't been opened in years (two moves? three, for some!)

Peter broke out in surprised laughter, and waggled a picture frame at me. "Here! I can't believe I still have this! Can you find me in here?"

I took it, and immediately was stymied by my inability to read Afrikaans. The military class standing proud in their uniforms, though, was perfectly clear. I looked at it, and there, near the end of one row, were a pair of appled cheeks and two ears he'd grow into. This was clearly long before the next picture I know, which shows him among a group of very dirty, bearded, bedraggled and triumphant men standing on captured Russian equipment, but the cheeks are still the same. As I pointed at it, and he confirmed with a chuckle. "Is this back when you were a bright-eyed innocent and unworldly young man?"

He cast his eyes up, and the grin deepened in his white and silver beard. "Further deponent sayeth not!" He took the frame back, while I ruminated on that very South African variation of "no comment."

But as he packed it carefully away in the very small pile of things to keep, he took one long last look at it. The smile fell away to something much sadder, more wistful and quiet. "That was before I learned that I wasn't bulletproof."


He gently put the picture facedown, and left the past staring into shadow.