Do you know what today is?
It’s the day of best friends!
Yes, there is indeed a day that celebrates and honors that special person that fate threw in your path and changed your life forever.
How to celebrate. A best friend is a soul mate. A life partner. A gift from the universe. Someone who will stick by your side through hardships, victory and defeat, glorious first kisses and shitty boyfriends, your first sip of a vodka tonic and holding your hair as you throw up the vodka tonic. Through sneaking out, playing hooky and getting tattoos. Through weddings, babies and turning 40.
And how do I know that? Because I am lucky to have such a person.
when i met Kin high school a million years ago (29 years ago to be exact!), he seemed so different from me. She was athletic and strong and didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. She was sure of his ideas and his plans. In my eyes, it kicked ass.
I wasn’t much of an ass-kicker. I was happy to be happy. I wouldn’t say I was completely a follower of the crowd, but I certainly wasn’t a boat rocker or a line cruiser. He was shy, although maybe it didn’t always seem that way to me (hello extroverted introverts!!).
Maybe it was those differences that brought us together, but it was our similarities that kept us there.
(Though maybe our differences too, since I can’t imagine spending as much time as we did with someone who was as competitive as her! For the record, I have zero competitive bones in my body. Even playing Monopoly gives me pain. .)
She was silly and funny and loved to laugh. He was intelligent and we could talk for hours. He cared about the bigger things in life, but he also knew how to enjoy the little ones. She believed in things that were bigger than us. She was kind and good and a defender of the defenseless.
And these were all things I’d like to think I was too to some extent…or at least aspired to be.
Now we are old fogies who still laugh at the things that only we laugh at. We still talk for hours and hours about things bigger than ourselves and simple joys. She is still kind and good and a defender of the defenseless. She is still as competitive as I am. I’m still not a boat rocker, I’d rather change the world in my own small way, one home cook at a time. She wrote about it first book (yes, in my heart I know there is more to come!) and it is already changing the world around it.
We’re still the girls we were, but also better. Through the lessons we have learned in life, experience, time, travel, growing up.
But through it all, still We…best friends.
(I think we can definitely hold our liquor better now)
This post, and this recipe, is for her. This is my mother’s Grilled beef, which is one of K’s favorites. What I made for her when she first moved out. What can you see in this one? blog entry from a long time ago (before SLRs! excuse the photos!). I’m reposting it here, as I think it deserves a repost, and in honor of my best friend in the universe.
This dish is included in K’s book, Book of 40 (represented by a fabulous illustration of Justine Racho! I love it!). The book collects 40 ideas inspired by K’s 40 years of life, represented in 40 creative collaborations. It’s inspiring and thought-provoking and, as K always has, deals with thoughts bigger than us (It is important to find a place to meet God regularly), and problems closer to our regular lives (It is important to learn about money). practical things (To-do lists have power) and playful (Let your geek flag fly!). I assure you there will be at least something here that will hit home hard (at least!).
So to celebrate Best Friends Day with all of you we will be giving away 5 copies of the Book of 40 to 5 lucky readers! Details below…
But first… the recipe!
Osso Buco meat
(very adapted from Osso Buco a Better Homes and Gardens Italian Cookbook)
- Olive oil, for browning and frying (not extra virgin)
- 1.6 – 1.8 pounds bone-in beef (with marrow), cut into 2- to 2 ½-inch sections
- About 1/2 pound extra bone marrow with marrow (the butcher saw them into 2-inch sections), optional
- 3-4 tablespoons of flour
- 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 1.2 kilos of crushed/chopped tomatoes in a can (I use an 800 gram can and a 400 gram can)
- 1 ½ cups water (wash the tomato cans with this water)
- 1 ½ cups of white wine
- Juice of 1 orange
- 2 cubes of beef bouillon
- 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons of grated orange peel
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil, to finish
– Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, then dredge lightly with flour.
– Place a heavy-bottomed pot (a dutch oven would be great if you have one) over medium-high heat. Add a couple of generous drizzles of oil and stir until the bottom of the pot is coated in a thin layer. When the oil is hot, add the meat and brown on all sides. Don’t overfill the pan or you won’t get a good frieze. Do this in batches if necessary.
– When all the meat is golden, remove from the pot and set aside.
– If the pot seems a little dry, add another swirl of oil. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Cook until onion and celery are tender.
– Return the meat to your pot, nesting the pieces between the vegetables.
– Stir in the tomatoes, water, wine, orange juice, bay leaf, orange peel, lemon peel, beef stock, thyme and a dash of pepper.
– Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat.
– Cover and cook over low heat until the meat is tender (the original recipe says it should take 1 to 1 1/2 hours, but ours takes about twice as long since we use beef instead of veal…just cook it gently until very tender.).
– When your osso buco is almost done, check the seasoning and adjust to taste with a little salt if necessary.
– When the meat is tender, the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the flavors have intensified, you know it’s done! It can be served immediately, but it benefits from spending the night in the refrigerator.
- The original recipe adds salt before cooking, but I prefer to add the salt (other than the salt used to season the meat) later in cooking, if needed. With the salt from the searing of the meat, plus the stock cubes, sometimes I don’t have to add any more!
- We use beef shanks, not beef as called for in a traditional osso buco. The reason is that beef shanks are hard to find here and once you find them, they are quite expensive.
- Because we use beef shanks, which are larger than beef shanks, we like to cut the meat instead of leaving it around the bone like in typical osso buco. That’s how my mom did it, so I do it too.
- I added an optional 1/2 pound of marrow bone if you love marrow like I do. If you don’t, or you’re watching your cholesterol, leave it out.
- This recipe makes a lot of sauce because that’s how my brother and I like it…that’s how my mom made it (and still does) him We love to pour the sauce very generously over our rice.
- Leftovers make a great pasta sauce. look at mine old blog post here (but sorry for the horrible photos!).
- I used dried thyme here because it’s something I always have in my pantry, but you can certainly use fresh (like I do when I put my hands on it).
- I don’t usually cook with stock cubes, but then again, this is how my mom did it and my heart just can’t turn away.
Oh, and a word about gremolata. I actually don’t have a set recipe for it, although it is shown here. I usually just tinker with it…adding more of one or another of its three magic ingredients until it tastes and smells like I like it. But usually this is what I do: I chop a small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves. Chop about 1-2 cloves of garlic. Zest 1 lemon. Then I throw all three of them on a cutting board and grind them together until I get something that looks like what you see in the picture here. I think mashing them together is the final magical step that melds their flavors into a cohesive gremolata, rather than the lemon, parsley and garlic mix. Either way, it’s the perfect foil for the richness of this stew.
- we will be giving away 5 copies of Book of 40 to 5 lucky readers!
- All you have to do is Comment below sharing anything about your own extra special best friend OR an insight or life lesson you’ve learned from your X years on this good earth 🙂 This is!
- We will choose the winners at random through the good reliable method of drawing names out of a hat.
- We can all be winners! If you don’t win, but still want to order a copy of the book, just send a screenshot of this post along with your order to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll get 29% off (the number of years K and I have known each other!) plus free shipping!
You don’t need to follow us anywhere on social media to enter this giveaway, but if you’d like to learn more about Book of 40 you can consult website here or @libre dels40 on Instagram. If you want to follow any of our journeys… mine in the kitchen and K’s in the garden, I am @chichajo on Instagram and her @greetingsearthgirl. But again, it is absolutely not necessary to join this giveaway (I promise)! Friendship is never forced, as they say!
To my dearest K, and to all of you best friends who firmly believe in the magic of love and friendship, Happy Best Friends Day!