Whoa … Damn cold here this morn! Range of temps depending on which gauge you look at, goes from 20-27, fahrenheit that is. Yeah, I know – it’s probably a lot colder where you are – but then, we moved here because it seldom gets this cold. Did I tell you we don’t like the cold?
We’ve started letting the “outside” cat – a semi-feral female, named Muffy, who “adopted” us some 4/5 years ago now – stay inside during these cold nights – No, she apparently trained herself, and she has never gone in the house. When she wants to go out, she simply sits at the french doors until someone opens it for her. Had we known this previously, she’d have spent more time inside, but … who knew?
For the last two winters, we avoided all possible effects of the cold by escaping to west Mexico. Before we left, we built Muffy a nice little shelter on the back deck, and a cleverly designed sleeping shed made out of a plastic storage bin. I cut a big hole into one end, and put a rug over the bottom – I put another piece of rug on the top, since cats like sitting on top of things. Muffy showed initial interest in this new “housing”, and then rejected it in favor of sleeping and resting under the tarp covered wood pile nearby – Oh well – it’s her choice.
We also arranged for our neighbor’s 12 year old daughter to come over daily and make sure Muffy had food and water – we suggested to her that Muffy was fine with about ½ cup of food daily – two months later we came home to find a cat twice the size of the one we left! Upon reflection, we decided that wasn’t so bad – at least it suggested that Muffy was happy during the nasty winter months.
So, I guess we kind of made a deal with Muffy – as a reward for enduring the past winters outside, and for having the good grace not to mess in the house, she can stay inside now – at least until we discover where she has been secretly depositing her wastes! (Yes I do hate myself for being so suspicious, but cats are sneaky.)
I’ve been thinking about my next kitchen project. I mentally divide kitchen work into two categories: the first is putting simple meals together; and the other is any “project” I plan and execute – the latter are the real fun things, and if done correctly, there are few of the simple meals that are not leftovers from a project. Now that I’m not working a day job, these projects are my major daily activity – I love it. I often wonder about how I’d feel about food and cooking today if I had chosen to go into professional kitchen work instead of the work I actually chose, Healthcare Administration. I can tell you for a fact, that I haven’t spent five minutes messing in my old profession once I retired – and I suspect the same might be true if I had worn myself to a frazzle in some restaurant kitchen for 30+ years.
But I didn’t! And now I can really enjoy doing the things of interest I never had the time to do in my last life. And the project of the day is lamb shanks.
I truly love lamb shanks! I’m not big on the science of these things, but I do know that there is some flavor concentration thing that occurs in the shank area of animals – well, at least I know this occurs in the shank area of lamb, pig, and cow anyway – I haven’t tried elk or kangaroo shanks yet. But shanks somehow become the collection area for sweet, collagen rich meat of succulent character – Damn, that’s good stuff.
Now you may not know that I suffer from a particular disease that afflicts foodie types, in that one of my constant concerns is the fear that I may die without first tasting every dish known to mankind! I’m especially concerned about missing out on those of a special nature – the classics. However, in the case of lamb shanks, I make an exception – and that exception has been with me since the day I first had lamb shanks braised in a red wine. My brain is forever wired to recall this momentous experience, and I find it impossible to even think about having lamb shanks any other way now. No, I have no answer as to how one person can have these two opposing characters, but I’m afraid it’s true.
So, here is the recipe I’ll use for today’s lamb shanks, and tomorrow, I’ll be back with pics and a review of the recipe for you. I decided on this one because, (1) it’s simple (I’m not afraid of challenging recipes, but this is one dish that’s best done simply!), and (2) it has five 5 star reviews. I believe in public opinion – and while I know that when there are only five votes, there is a chance for manipulation, it’s not likely now, is it?
OK, let me go warm up the kitchen – ya’ll make sure you stay warm today too. How about baking some bread? See you tomorrow.