Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Love-Hate Relationship

It's wrestling tournament season and I continue to struggle with my love-hate relationship for the sport of wrestling.  I LOVE wrestling because my son loves it and he excels at it.  I LOVE the fact that he and my husband share the love of the sport and if bonds them closer together.  I LOVE watching my son's confidence and self esteem soar because of his achievements.  I LOVE the fact that his academics improve because of his accountability to the team.  I LOVE that he is surrounded by a supportive coaching staff who instructs, encourages and sets high expectations for him.  I LOVE that my son wakes up at 5:00 in the morning and goes for a run before school just to stay is shape for the season.  I LOVE that he makes healthy eating choices during the season.  I mostly LOVE the fact that his true character and sportsmanship comes out after he loses a match.

With all of those positive things that I love about wrestling, what could I possible hate about the sport of wrestling?  First and foremost, I HATE the way that wrestling smells. (the mats, the room, the clothes, the gym bag, the boys - they all smell really bad by the end of the day.)  I HATE to watch my son participate in a sport where he could get injured.   (Yes, I've heard the speech that all sports are dangerous and that wrestling is not as dangerous as some but it's been my job to protect him for so long.  I'm a mom - what can I say?) 

Along with wrestling season comes really loooong weekend tournaments.  I've learned that wrestling tournaments are very unpredictable.  I rarely know in advance how many hours they will last and in some cases I don't even know how many days they will wrestle.  (Frustrating for a type A person like myself.)   Obviously, I like to plan my meals out in advance and these tournaments definitely present a challenge for my menu planning.   On tournament weekends, I find that crock pot meals are the most practical.  My family loves ribs in the crock pot.  I usually cook pork ribs but I decided to change it up and make beef short ribs this time.  I put these ribs in the crock pot in the morning and they cooked all day.  By dinnertime, they were moist and tender and delicious. 

Slow Cooker Braised Short Ribs
5 pounds bone in beef short ribs                     1 teaspoon thyme
2 Tablespoons oil                                                2 cups red wine
2 onions, chopped                                              2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 carrots, chopped                                              2 cups chicken broth
1 celery rib, chopped                                          2 Tablespoons minute tapioca
2 Tablespoons tomato paste                            2 bay leaves
fresh parsley

Cut meat from the bones and arrange bones in a 9x13 dish.

Microwave bones 10 min.  Transfer to slow cooker.

Season meat with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in skillet and cook meat 5 min. on each side.

Transfer to slow cooker. 

Cook onions, carrot and celery in skillet 8 min.  (I committed a culinary sin and I omitted the celery because I didn't have any.) 

Stir in tomato paste (I used Sun-Dried Tomato paste) and thyme.  Cook 1 min.

Stir in wine and vinegar and simmer until reduce to 1 c.  (Mine is about halfway reduced in this picture.  I cooked it until almost all of the liquid was absorbed.)

Stir in broth, tapioca and bay and bring to a boil.

Transfer the sauce to slow cooker and cook on low 8 hours.  (4-5 hrs. on high)

Transfer meat to platter.

Strain sauce.   Once the sauce cools, the fat will rise to the top and it can be spooned off. 

Sprinkle with fresh parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with juice.

 I served the short ribs with some corn muffins that I had in the freezer.  The meat was so tender that it just fell apart when I served it.  It was really yummy and their wasn't even a bite left over after dinner.  (Success!) 

Bon Appetit!

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