Saturday, July 4, 2015

Oxtail Extravaganza; Love Against the Odds

This past week was the start of the deadline period at the magazine, which is, to put it mildly, not my favorite time of the month. I enjoy the work -- even the parts that are less exciting, like the actual editing, which comes in large bouts that leave my head pounding at times -- but the late hours can get a little intense. Luckily, this time around we had a company-wide lecture right smack in the middle, which means people kind of got their business handled a little more quickly (the deadline period is kind of a like a marathon relay sprint, if there is such a thing -- you've got to wait for the baton to be handed off before you can get on with your work, and you likewise have people waiting for you to pass the baton on to them).

The point is, I didn't have much (any) time to blog this week. The deadline period's not finished yet,  but while I'm waiting for the pie crust dough to chill in the fridge, so B and I can break in the new patio with a  bit of a barbecue and maybe take an evening ride along the river to Seoul Forest afterwards, I figured I'd get into a bit of what I did last weekend.

At the co-op last week, I had picked up a little basket of blueberries for a pretty penny (most berry bushes are basically weeds and therefore one of the easiest kinds of plants to maintain, but their yield is extremely low for the amount of land they take up and their shelf-life, extremely short, so you gotta take 'em for the luxury they are), so first B and I did a big brunch of blueberry pancakes, bacon and eggs. Then he went out to try to get our outside spaces in some kind of shape, and I got busy turning the kitchen into a sauna.  

It was perhaps not the best idea to scoop up a huge box of oxtails at the co-op last week, given their prolonged cooking time and the fact that it was nearly July, but I just got excited. So on Saturday morning, I busted out the slow cooker and the huge stock pot my mother-in-law insisted we carry back on the train from Busan at Seollal and got busy doing oxtail, two ways.

I threw the majority of the oxtails (after soaking the blood out in cold water for about an hour) into the pot with water to boil for about 20 minutes to cook off the fat, threw out that water and refilled the pot with the oxtails, water and an entire daikon to simmer for a couple of hours. Then, I removed the daikon and pulled the meat off the bones, and threw the bones back in with more water and kept it going for another 5 or 6 hours.

I dressed the meat in red pepper flakes, sesame oil, soy sauce and green onions and threw it, the daikon and a portion of the stock in the fridge for 꼬리곰탕 to eat during the week. I froze the rest of stock (and there was a ton of it) for later use.

I tossed the rest of the oxtails in flour, salt and pepper and seared them off in a skillet. Deglazed with about half a bottle of red wine and added a can of tomato paste.

While that cooked down, I threw two carrots, two onions, a handful of whole garlic cloves, a whole bunch of parsley, a couple of sprigs of rosemary and two bay leaves into the slow cooker.

When the sauce came together, I added it and the seared oxtails to the slow cooker and set it to low, where it stayed doing its thing for the next six hours or so. The result was pretty amazing, but definitely one of those a-little-goes-a-long-way kinda dishes.

 The last two weekend projects were to make yogurt for the week's breakfasts, and use up the last of the lemons I bought the weekend before for lemonade, to make the summer moving experience a little more bearable (a finger or three of tequila at the bottom of the glass, and you've got a great recipe for avoiding couple fights when the air conditioner has already been uninstalled and the Ikea bed needs to be taken apart).

The two tasks go well together,  because the yogurt needs to be kept warm in the dehydrator overnight, and it's a shame to waste lemon peels, which are good for cooking (obviously), flavoring tea or making cleaning products.

I have to say, I made the yogurt with co-op milk from Jeju-do, and it was nice. I'm happy to have the co-op on hand, because it took me a while to track down a reliable source of non-ultra-high-temperature pasteurized milk near our old place, and even then, it wasn't always available.

It might be obvious that I don't get out much during the weekends anymore -- work is pretty demanding at times, and there's a lot of eating whatever I can get my hands on quickly. I've never been much of a fan of eating out, especially convenience food, and I miss cooking and eating home-cooked meals during the week, and just being at home in general. I was pretty spoiled for a while in that, while language school was demanding, it still allowed me to be home and on my own schedule most of the time. Going from that to working at the magazine has been zero to a hundred, in a couple of months flat.

That's not to say I've forgotten my friends completely. In fact, we went to a wedding yesterday that was a long time in the making for two very lovely people who deserve nothing but the best in life, and who were lucky enough to find each other, which will go a long way in that regard.

Later this year will be another wedding that's been a long time in the making, again between two people who have made their way together against the odds. I don't know what it is with me and mine -- staying home and finding a nice boy or girl didn't seem to be in the cards for a single one of us. Of course, B and I still need to figure our wedding stuff out, but it's the marriage that really matters, and I guess we're doing okay there. 

Now, B's getting antsy to get the meat train out of the station -- he's been talking about the barbecue nonstop for three days. I've got so much more to say, but time is a limited resource. You gotta grab whatever moments you can with the ones you love.

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