Last month it felt that rather than declining internally Ed and Elllie are declining by bits and pieces. They both had “procedures” recently, removing small growths from various parts of their bodies that could, if left untreated, become problems, but because of their age required pre-op examinations that took up an inordinate amount of time. When we went through his week of menus there were big gaps because Edward’s datebook was filled with appointments and doctor’s cards. He’s quite good at keeping track of things, but beyond that, I am impressed with how he is dealing with this new reality of frequent doctor’s visits. Instead of grumping about it, he has become fascinated with how far medicine has evolved since he was young and healthy. Not that he is looking for a miracle. At 89, he feels he’s already lived one to a certain extent. But he has found a way to look beyond his own health issues by admiring another’s skills. To me, that’s the definition of health.
As the weather cools off, Edward is turning more towards stewy recipes; gelatin rich foods that make his joints feel good. These dishes are, nonetheless, amazingly light, as evidenced by this lovely dinner salad. And thrifty, too. The stock leftover from boiling the beef is delicious, and makes a meal tomorrow.
Edward’s Boiled Beef Salad
Serves 2 as a dinner salad, makes 4 pints of stock
3 meaty 6-inch short ribs
1 small onion, halved
1 fib celery, halved
2 carrots, halved
2 bay leaves
10 or so sprigs each thyme and parsley
1 or 2 dried hot peppers
3 quarts water
Place all the ingredients in a stockpot, cover and bring to a boil over a night heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 2 to 4 hours (longer low heat makes a richer stock than shorter high heat). The stock should reduce to about 2 quarts. Strain the stock and retain the stock, beef, and carrots.
Defat the stock (I love my defatter). You can keep the stock for up to 3 days in the fridge. Or you can pressure can or freeze the stock. (It only takes 20 minutes to pressure can stock at sea level; if you freeze, leave 1 1/2 inches headroom in the container to accommodate volume expansion.)
To serve the stock Edward likes to boil angel hair nests in the stock and garnish with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese, or he makes stracciatella (Italian egg drop soup) or he uses the stock as a base for a soup or stew.
Pull the beef off the bone and slice the carrots. To keep the beef and carrots for a day or two, place in a bowl and cover with enough stock to keep moist. Rewarm in the stock before making the salad.
To make the salad
6 small waxy potatoes, boiled and, if you like, peeled, and halved (see Variation)
1/3 cup washed and chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leafed parsley (or other tender herb, or a combination!)
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Gently combine the beef and carrots (drained from the stock) with the potatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, and seasoning. The salad is delicious served at room temperature, garnished with a little extra virgin olive oil. It’s also very nice served with a bit of hot mustard on the side.
Variation: replace the potatoes with 2 large semi-ripe tomatoes, cut into bite sized wedges.