It’s not working.
I pondered today how Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, manages to write a fabulous blog full of pictures, stories, contests, recipes, tutorials, and, oh, teach her four little homeschooled kids Greek and Latin root words while I can’t seem to get dinner on the table and talk to my children on the same day. I pondered it knowing there are even people out there in the world who wonder how I get everything I do done. I pondered it even as I was flying around the kitchen dripping red wine on my slippers, my wavy gray hair in my eyes. I pondered it again, later, when it all failed.
Today I neglected my kids in honor of an amazing meal. I will say that I did take Toby to soccer class and I did read a chapter of The Magician’s Elephant out loud to whomever would listen. But other than that I was chopping and braising and sautéing and frying and pureeing and baking, all the while wondering how Ree gets it all done. I even took this photo of my kitchen after finally getting the short ribs into the slow cooker (more on this later).
Later, I spent many minutes lovingly cleaning it up. I was enjoying the focus, even as it ate up every minute of my afternoon.
I pondered how she manages to take beautiful, mouth-watering photographs of every single step as she cooks. I can barely keep up with the pace and not burn the pancetta while I’m chopping the shallots, let alone take a photo of every step. But I thought about it. I thought, I’ll ruin my camera right now if I pick it up with floury fingers. But I thought you, dear reader, might want to see every step. That’s how important I’ve come to think every step is.
And I had a quandary. Menu was Heavenly Beef Short Ribs, cauliflower puree, salad, challah, and chocolate chip bread pudding (kids asked for it). Sounds good, right? The problem was the short ribs recipe called for either braising in a Le Crueset style Dutch oven, which I do not own, or slow cooking. The slow cooker I own, but the recipes just didn’t look tasty. I didn’t wanna. So I took Ree’s recipe and did all of the on the stove part on the stove and then transferred to the slow cooker, put it on high for three hours and assumed all was good.
Weeeeeellll, got to the part where I taste-tested the meat (and burnt the tip of my tongue) and it was not even close to ready to come off the bone in a succulent, food-of-the-gods way. That’s how she described it, or at least, that’s how it looked in about 75 of her photos of the recipe.
Ahem. 6:20 pm. Cauliflower, check. Shabbat table, check. Salad, check. Challah, check. Bread pudding, check. Main course…not happening.
Mark, trying to save the day as is his want, made chicken salad. Yup. Chicken salad. From a can. I tell you this in all naked honesty. We sometimes use canned chicken to make our chicken salad. It tastes great in a sandwich, on celery, on a hot afternoon. We put in sliced apples and sometimes walnuts. My friend Catherine did that once for us and we’ve done it ever since. But, in place of heavenly braised short ribs? I weep.
I have sacrificed time with my children for a piece of short rib falling off the bone, a piece I will not eat tonight, unless I want to wait until way too late. And now, sitting up here on my computer licking my wounds (with my burnt tongue) I am setting a terrible example for my children. Get up! I should say. It’s not the end of the world! There’s food on the table. Forget the main course! Why are you moping around when there’s chicken salad to be eaten?
If you’re free and aren’t a vegetarian, you might want to come over at about 11 tonight.
But you have to promise you won’t laugh at me.
I have been instructed to inform you that on Monday night (since we were away all weekend), the short ribs were eaten. And lo, they were tender and heavenly morsels.
Thanks to the wonderous and patient husband, he who saved the dinner on Friday night, for his compliments and groans of satisfaction (at the dinner table).