After a way too busy holiday season, life is finally settling back to normal. The house painters have left – they’ll come back later for a few final touches. And yes, the front door is unfinished but I have decided 1.) I don’t care right now 2.) maybe I’ll just get a new door. Mid-century modern, perhaps.
While the painting pause fills my to-do list with all kinds of new stuff, I’m exercising strategic option #1 again, i.e. Just Don’t Care At Least Right Now. The best part of retirement is choice.
And not caring means that this morning, as we speak, I’m sitting at my kitchen counter watching a just-about-to-simmer pot of bone broth. Also known as: 4.5 pounds of oxtails from pastured-raised cattle; 2 carrots; 1.5 onions (1 yellow and charred, half a red one because I ran out of yellow); a bay leaf; some peppercorns; one big stem of charred ginger; a whole lot of filtered water; 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Fancy punctuation for a very simple foodstuff.
The pot’s going to be sitting on my stove all day long. Maybe into tomorrow or the day after. I’ve never made bone broth, but it’s all the rage. Usually that doesn’t motivate me terribly – I’ve never cooked anything Moroccan, for example – but I’ve got my reasons.
For example? I’d like nothing more than to tell you. What better than to chat while ignoring one’s to-do list?
First, the broth is ostensibly good for your joints and I’m prone to aches. Second, if that turns out to be quackery, which I can well imagine, I believe that as a meat-eater I ought to consume as many parts of the animals as possible. Waste is bad. Third, I should use my resources to encourage pasture-raising. Commitment is good.
And finally, because pleasure moves me more than virtue, because doing good is something I require of myself and delicious comes naturally, what better than a large pot of completely homemade soup?
I’ve always loved to cook. I remember the first time I made a recipe beyond Nestle’s Tollhouse. Something with crab and avocado, from Craig Claibourne. The sense of accomplishment, of adulthood. In my late 30s and early 40s I hosted small dinner parties all the time. My food was very good, my short-term memory at its peak, I moved quickly and accurately carrying the numbers of teaspoons in my mind.
These days my food is probably worse but I don’t care. I enjoy myself so much.
The bone broth, which is still coming to a simmer, by the way, I have triangulated out of a few recipes. This one, for the basics, this one for oxtail pho, and this one for Hawaiian oxtail soup. By triangulated, I mean I read them all and then decided I knew enough to proceed. Oh, and by another way, I’ve moved to the sofa. Best place for a chat.
The decades, while they’ve denatured my capabilities, have compensated with knowledge, habit, and confidence. Not always true with skills as we age, but wholly so in the kitchen. So I parboiled the oxtails for 5 minutes, following the bone broth recipe, added charred ginger and onions from the pho inspiration, and used more water than anyone said just because Significant Husband loves a not-too-strong broth.
It might turn out badly. In which case, I will probably feel annoyed, but will exercise our valuable strategy one more time, and Just Not Care, At Least Right Now.
Life is good, my friends, life is good. Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you have time for broth or its equivalent.