My family loves personality tests. Actually, let me clarify that. My mother and I love personality tests, and we love making the rest of the family take them so that we can analyze how we all interact together. We’ve all taken the Myers-Briggs (I am an INFJ and Gerrit is an ENFJ which I find interesting) and read all about the results for each person in our family. And the latest one has been the Enneagram. I seem to get different results every time I take it, but I am a strong 4 (artist/romantic/individualist) with strong bits of 3 (motivator/achiever) and 5 (thinker/investigator) thrown in.
I thought this was an odd result for awhile, but deep down I knew it made sense to me. I am strongly driven in my success and achievement, but I am really an artist at heart. There are times when my success means so much to me, and then there are other times when I want to throw those kinds of cares off my shoulders. There are times when I absolutely have to have control over a situation, and then there are other times when I am content to be a little less obsessive.
I kind of thought this combination was unique to me, but then, this summer, I read Madeline L’Engle’s beautiful book about writing and art, Walking on Water, and she put the pieces of the puzzle together for me.
I am an artist at heart, but I also love to create art because it gives me a sense of control. I have to write out my feelings because it helps me to understand them, and therefore gain some sense of control over them.
And I think I cook, which really is a creative outlet, because it helps me to have some sense of control over the chaos of life. No matter what the day brings, if I can make us something good and warming and soul-comforting for dinner (like these short ribs that I made after a particularly stressful week for us), then I have some sense of control, some sense that I can face whatever may come, the knowledge that, when need be, I can literally cook comfort into a piece of meat.
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
I have made short ribs all sorts of ways, but these are perhaps my favorite. The red wine soaks in and unlike any other braising liquid. They come out sweet and tender and absolutely perfect.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 3 hours
2.5-3 lb. (about 6-8) short ribs
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-3 cups red wine
2-3 cups beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a large oven-proof pot or dutch oven, heat about 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, sprinkle both sides of the short ribs with salt and pepper. Add the short ribs to the pot (you might need to do this in batches) beginning with the fatty side down first, and cook until each side is a well browned, about 2-3 minutes per side.
3. When the short ribs have browned, take them out and set them aside on a plate. Add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are beginning to get golden brown and tender. Then add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
4. Add the red wine and beef broth to the pot and use a spoon to scrape up any of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Then add the shorts ribs back to the pot, nestling them down in the liquid, along with the bay leaves, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
5. Cover the pot and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. When the short ribs are done, they will have shrunk considerably and will be falling off the bone. Remove from oven. Take the shorts ribs out of the braising liquid to serve (although you can spoon some of the braising liquid/vegetables over the meat or any kind of rice/polenta/etc. side if you like).