An Ordinary Day

January 16, 2013 by Ellen Stimson in Food, Wintertime

A weird thing happened this January. The snow melted. We had a run of fifty-degree days and those wonderful piles of snow just faded away into a few white patches here and there. We’d had a bunch of snowy days and one blizzard so there was a nice foundation out there, even after some melting, of about a foot and a half. Only then, way too fast,  it looked like an ordinary spring day before the leaves come. Hillsides were running with streams. Muddy marble sidewalks dotted the village.

Today is another ordinary day only now the temperatures have dropped back down to a regular January twenty something and it is snowing softly again outside. This snow probably won’t amount to much. Like the early snows of November the ground was warm and it will take a few colder days before these snowfalls start to mount back up. Unless we get a good growly storm.

In the meantime we have this gentle snow. It is like a winter’s song. I can almost hear the melody. In it’s refrain is a reminder that the ordinary is lovely and sweet and not to be missed cause we get a whole lot more of the ordinary than anything else. If we miss the good stuff here our pleasures might be few and far between.

Violet, our snow loving Bernese Mountain Dog, ran out this morning all wags and celebration. She dipped her nose into the new snow and rolled around … the very picture of dog joy. She gets it.

Winter is not for everyone. But when you have chosen to live in a place that has a lot of it you better learn to find joy and beauty in the array of January landscapes that might just keep coming right through Easter. It wouldn’t be the first Easter Egg Hunt in the snow.

And meanwhile cook up a comforting batch of short ribs. Braise them and let the winey smells fill up your house and your heart.

It’s winter after all. A time for slow cooking and celebration of an ordinary January snow.


Braised Short ribs

I often buy three pounds and have the bones removed. That means the butcher starts with five or six. But the bone in is also very good. They just take a little longer to cook to meltingly tender.

Rough cut two or three onions. Set aside

Coat short ribs with your favorite rub or a generous mix of salts, garlic, tarragon, and peppers.

Sear them first on high heat in a little olive oil.

Cover them with a deep flavorful red wine and simmer with the onions, about a half or three quarters of a cup of dark cocoa, a few red pepper flakes, a bunch of garlic, a quarter cup or so of honey, plenty of salt, and bunches and bunches of tarragon.

Simmer until the fork makes them fall apart.

Make a batch of cheddar grits with scallions and serve the short ribs on top with a wilted spinach salad.

Your family will love you to the moon for this snowstorm supper


  • Maggie Lowe

    Sounds delicious!

  • beesknees

    Not every day is Christmas … thankgod. The ordinary days are the real grace notes aren’t they?

  • becket

    I’ll take a snowy Wednesday over another holiday any day.
    This was beautiful Mrs Paproth. Thank you

  • molls

    I have heard you mention these before. I am printing and hanging this in my kitchen on our board. These are coming this weekend! Thanks

  • Meredith Henderson

    I did it! I made them. I read this on the train yesterday and had to stop at the store on my way home anyway. So I figured why not. We eat the same meals over and over despite my big shelf of cookbooks, But those recipes always sound long and drawn out. This sounded easy. We didn’t eat until about 8:30 but it was worth it. At first I was worried becasue I like exact measurements. But those exact measurements are precisely what keep me from trying new recipes. There are always so many meansurments and steps and then it sounds like too much for right now. Whenever right now is. I had a glass of the wine and decided to try. It turned out beautifully. The deep rich flavors were just right for our snowy day. Thank you so much. More please

  • Abigail Mae Husdon

    “a reminder that the ordinary is lovely and sweet and not to be missed cause we get a whole lot more of the ordinary than anything else. If we miss the good stuff here, our pleasures might be few and far between”
    This is so true. If you wait for vacation to be happy you will be waiting a long time.
    You have the wisdom of an eight-three year old woman.
    And I should know. Ha!

  • Lynn Silence

    I just finished breakfast, but I’d kill for those shortribs. St. Louis is becoming innundated by restaurants that have only numbers as their names. I went to one called Five the other night and had boef bourgingon(sp?) that tasted a lot like this recipe sounds. Heavenly!

  • starrlife

    mmmmm….. I got my hubs a smoker for Xmas so we’ve been eating ribs more lately but these sound very yummy for non-smoker days!

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