Sweet, Sweet October [ 2004-10-12, 5:57 p.m. ]

I’m not usually one for play-by-play recaps of my weekends (or weeks), largely because - well, they are boring. But every now and then the planets align and the wind blows just so and no alarm clocks are necessary and the coffee is already made when you get up, and you find yourself face-to-face with a perfectly perfect day, and you fall asleep at night thinking, Thank you, thank you, thank you, because you needed that day, that perfect day.

Sundays are my day to spend with my husband. Sometimes (often times, lately), we spend “our” day running errands and bickering and cleaning and getting really pissed off at one another (good times!), and then getting even more angry for wasting “our” day. (Me: This day needs to be PERFECT!!! Him: Oh god, we’re doomed already. Me: MORE PERFECT, IT MUST BE PERFECT, NO TIME FOR RELAXING!!!!! Him: Uh, I’m watching football. Calm the fuck down. Me: RUINED. The day is RUINED!! And so on…)

But this Sunday was lovely. This Sunday was clear skies, cool breezes, rustling leaves and long shadows stretching under park benches. We slept in (which I never do) and Kent walked the dog (which I do frequently but never the first walk of the day because I need to get my Pretty on before I step outside), and we grabbed the paper and got bagels and coffee and sat in the park and people-watched while reading Page Six. Then we walked around for a while, stopping in my favorite wine store for a few bottles of Rhone blends and lots of time browsing the pretty, pretty bottles of goodness. The sun was warm but not hot and the street was full but not crowded. On our way back home we popped into the corner pub, and rediscovered the joy of Happy Hour. It was maybe, maybe 12:03 p.m., and Kent’s beer plus my Bloody Mary were $4.50. In New York! That’s practically free in these parts!! And what is better than a Bloody Mary? Absolutely nothing, except for maybe another Bloody Mary. Extra Tobasco please.

Then home again, where I chain-watched Sex and the City episodes while Kent napped with the dog. When he woke up we talked about getting a late lunch and glass of wine at our favorite panini restaurant, but decided to stay home instead. And in honor of gorgeous, glorious autumn, I made the most ridiculously good short ribs EVER. Seriously. I am not in the food-blog business, leaving that to my friends Hannah and Winnie, but let me just take a minute to say that HOLY GOD ABOVE, these ribs kick ass. For real. So much so that I have renamed them the “Take Me To Bed” Braised Short Ribs because if I were a single girl looking to cast a serious spell on a fella, I would make him this dinner and he would be powerless against the combination of beauty, brains and short ribs. He would finish dinner and promptly pick me up, throw me over his shoulder and take me to bed. Really. They are that good. (Recipe follows. Try it. Thank me later.)

Lots of red wine, lots of food, lots of reading. Zero fights! Only one annoying phone call from my in-laws! As near-perfect a Sunday as I could hope for. And! And because I am just that good in the kitchen (well, every now and them I am!), the left-over short ribs made for super tasty quesadillas last night (shred ribs, grate manchego cheese, make salsa verde, combine in tortillas and bake on oiled baking sheet until golden brown. Stuff in face.) It was a lovely weekend.

The beautiful weather is all up in our faces this week, making it impossible to walk down the street without thinking, Damn baby, life is Good. It’s not cold yet, but so perfectly clear that you could practically bite the sky and every detail stands out that much clearer and today I actually wore a scarf. Gorgeous, glorious autumn. Enjoy it, my friends.


“Take Me To Bed” Braised Short-Ribs

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed & seeded
2 cups boiling water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. canned chipotle chiles in adobo, seeded and finely chopped plus 2 tsp. adobo sauce
2 Tbsp. real maple syrup
1 Tbsp. lime juice
3 tsp. salt
5-6 lbs beef short ribs, cross-cut
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups strong, freshly brewed coffee

Makes 4-6 servings.

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Soak ancho chiles in boiling water until softened, about 20 minutes. Purée chiles, onion, garlic, chipotles with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and 1 tsp salt in food processor or blender.

2. Pat ribs dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large (at least 5 qt) heat-proof casserole or dutch oven over medium heat and brown ribs, working in batches, approx. 5 minutes per side. Remove ribs and set aside on plate.

3. Allow the fat to cool for a few minutes, then add the chile purée to the pan. Cook mixture over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add coffee and bring to boil. Replace ribs into the casserole and add water if necessary to bring liquid up to half the level of the ribs.

4. Place the cover on the pan and put in center of oven, braise 3 to 3 ½ hours. Skim excess fat and serve ribs with pan juices. Rice or polenta make excellent accompanying dishes. ENJOY!!!!

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