The Reset Button
We – and I use that term in a nebulous, collective way – keep ourselves so tightly scheduled. Every 15 minute slot is penciled in along with multiple back-up appointments, just to be sure we maximize our time. And yet, do you feel like me? The more I do, the more I feel like I’m missing out on. I can spend an afternoon at home cleaning out a closet and feel so good about crossing something off of my to do list, but when I’m done I immediately start thinking about how now I’m behind on cleaning the rest of the house. That feeling of not ever catching-up starts to put me into system overload. I feel like I have less and less capacity to deal with everyday stresses and I can’t turn off the running lists of tasks and things to keep track of.
And then (my poor husband, bless his patient soul) I blow up. Fall apart. Breakdown. Cry, even. I mumble incoherent things about wanting to take time to enjoy life, not just rush through it. I wail and lament that as soon as we find an extra hour, we fill it up. And although those may be honest truths, it’s a bit pathetic that you would find me rambling on about them with my face a red puffy mess, while blowing my nose and wiping tears away with my sleeve. It seems petty. And avoidable. But it happens.
He thinks I’m setting up the tripod and testing the shot. Little does he know that I think he’s damn cute and I love it when I catch him with that, “I’m waiting for you” expression on his face. And I just noticed that this was taken before he realized that his pant legs were rolled up. He’s going to kill me.
The most sure-fire way for me to reset my system is to physically escape, which is, admittedly, not the most realistic solution. If you’ve had any kind of conversation with me over the last 10 days I’ve surely mentioned that at this time last year my husband and I were honeymooning in Italy. It seemed almost cruel to be thinking about that this past week as I teetered precariously on the edge of sanity. It was the trip of a lifetime (shocking, I know!). Days were spent wandering the streets, soaking in art and history, drinking wine and feasting on delicious food. The hours stretched out before us, unscheduled and open to any whim we might have. Alas, we will not be returning there any time soon, and I knew as I sobbed that an escape of that caliber was out of the question.
Not being able to return to Italy, my husband and I dropped our son off with the grandparents and spent the weekend at the cabin. The scenery up north was stunning – copper hued oaks, golden birch trees, and ruby tinted sumac spread out over the hills and along the lakeshore.
We slept in until 10 am on Saturday (10! am!), then stayed in bed snuggling and talking until 11:30. We ate dinner in that night – short ribs that took a luxuriously long 3 hours to braise in the oven, mingled with wine and mushrooms and served with baked sweet potatoes… and we
totally made out on the couch enjoyed stimulating, intellectual conversation while dinner cooked itself. We continuously said things like, “I love you so much. This weekend is so perfect.” On Sunday, after brunch and a hike, I contentedly cuddled up on the couch with and good book and my husband while he watched football. Basically, we spent the weekend acting like a couple of love-struck teenagers. And it was amazing.
I realized sometime during the weekend that it does not matter where you escape to, or for how long. There is an enchanted aura that encircles you when you’re away and alone with somebody you love. The jokes are more hilarious and the kisses more tender. The wine tastes sweeter and the food more exotic. The scenery is more vibrant and the accommodations cozier. All that was wronged is righted, and you see the world and your place in it for the beautiful, complex, ever-changing thing that it is.
Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms and Wine
Short ribs are delicious, but require a long cooking time in order to break down the connective tissue in them. Braising is a cooking technique that involves first searing and then cooking with liquid in a covered pot at a low temperature. Don’t be tempted to peak during the braising; it’s important to leave the pot tightly covered so that no steam escapes during cooking.
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs short ribs (bone in or out)
- 3 cups baby bella or white button mushrooms, quartered
- 1 cup red wine
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
- 2 bunches rosemary, oregano or thyme
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously season short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper.
In a dutch oven with a tight fitting lid, heat oil over medium high heat. Sear short ribs on all sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove short ribs from pot and set aside.
Add mushrooms to pot and cook for a couple of minutes, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add wine and broth. Place short ribs back into pot, along with onion, garlic and herbs. Tightly cover the pot with aluminum foil and place lid on pot. Braise for 3 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven, gently remove short ribs and set aside. They may start to fall apart – that’s okay, it means you’ve cooked them perfectly. Discard onion, garlic and herbs. Place the pot over high heat and cook for a few minutes, until liquid is reduced and thickened. Spoon mushroom sauce over short ribs and serve.