Friday, October 1, 2010

Oxtail and Beef Cheeks

We just celebrated Slow Food Wallowa County's first event, Dig In! 

Saturday the week before Dig In!, I got up to a kitchen loaded with produce waiting to be canned, frozen, or dried. On a whim I called Julia to see if she wanted to can peaches. She is a fruit person--that's what she told me when we met. She did want to can. So I started setting us up for peaches, honey curry pickles and apple pie filling. But after harvesting my cukes, I needed more so I called a garden buddy.

Janie said she had some cukes, but she was up to her eyeballs harvesting spuds and needed to get them in the cellar. I said I would come over and do it and she called me a "miracle from God." Julia and I went to Janie's and came home an hour later loaded with cabbage, beets, shallots, potatoes, carrots, dill, mint and a few cukes. The first produce for Dig In! 

When Friday rolled around,  I wanted to make my dishes for the pot luck while Dawson was napping.As soon as he fell asleep I started in on my two meat dishes: braised oxtail and braised beef cheeks. 

Braising stock with red pepper and tomato
Oxtail ready for braising

The oxtail was browned and then simmered in a dutch oven for 4 hours in a tomato-ginger-red pepper-carrot-onion-garlic stock.

Browning cheeks before braising

After a lot of trimming, the beef cheeks were browned and baked in an onion-garlic-black pepper-beef stock. Chilled overnight, I removed the fat and then reheated them for the potluck. Both were delicious.

Saturday of the event, I got up early and went to the neighbor's farm for apples. The neighbors came out and helped pick, parking a flat bed truck under the tree and climbing a step ladder from there. Boxes and boxes of yummy cooking apples to share.  

Some yummy produce from the Magpie Ranch
After that I went home and picked all my yellow and green beans, harvested red and green cabbage and herbs, and sorted a box of windfall Bartlett pears to take to the park. 

Around three o'clock, people came to the park to share produce and everybody talked about how delicious the different produce was and what they planned to do with everything. 

Then we had the potluck with amazing dishes, great stories, and good ideas. Monday morning, Julia and I hauled about six boxes of fresh produce to the Food Bank. It was a great way to wrap up a Dig In! weekend.

Now as an Indian Summer ripens the winter squash in the garden, I'm starting to look forward to winter and the next opportunity to gather folks and keep learning how to improve access to fair, safe, local food.  And this very moment-- I'm going to can the last of those pears! 

From Sara at Magpie Ranch, home of Bunchgrass Beef