Within a few days of submitting our foster dog application, the rescue rep emails me: The dog at the shelter in Olympia is no longer on stray hold, and he’s going to pieces at the shelter. He arrived as a happy, bouncy boy and now cowers at the back of his kennel. Are you interested in fostering him?
Sure, I reply, and a few days later, The Child and I sit in the car discussing dog names in unexpectedly heavy Sunday morning freeway traffic. We come up with a list of names, none of which seem quite right, but of course we haven’t met this dog yet, and only have a couple of blurred camera phone photos to go by. He doesn’t look like much, to judge by these photos, but then we meet him: Brown eyes that ask to be loved, a dazzling white and copper coat. He rushes to me, then sits on my feet, looking up at me and leaning against my legs.
I had feared a mad rush of memories, but this Red Dog is nothing like The Dog.
Over the next few days, The Child and I get to know the Red Dog, who is young, and feisty, and though he is well-trained in many ways, still has some things to learn, like how to get into a car. He keeps an eye on me during the day, following me from room to room, upstairs and downstairs. He cannot bear to have me leave his sight; I cannot tiptoe quietly enough to slip away unnoticed.
I take a new route when I walk the Red Dog, and sometimes I accidentally call him by The Dog’s name, but for the most past, being together is a good arrangement; the unbearable emptiness I have felt since The Dog’s passing finally starts to recede.
Mr. Faraway comes to visit the following weekend, and it is a weekend full of errands, but he doesn’t complain about the trips to the mattress store, to downtown for The Child’s school project research, or to the various stores to get the fixings for dinner. I decide to go to the specialty butcher, the guy with the really good meat, partly because I get so little meat that I feel like I can indulge in the very best quality, but also because the real butcher has real bones and other treats for dogs. The Red Dog is delighted with the pig skins we bring him.
For us, I buy spareribs, because I have lately been poking through cookbooks that I’ve had on my shelf for a long time but never actually used. Some of them land on a pile of potential donations, but one book in particular has me scratching my head wondering why I’ve never used it: Patricia Wells’ The Paris Cookbook. Most of the recipes aren’t especially hard, and several are quite appealing.
I opt to try the recipe for spareribs first, because it involves a minimum of prep work, and spareribs are one of those things that I just haven’t had good luck finding a recipe for. The last recipe I attempted was something I found in a google search and involved a sauce made out of blueberries, which seemed appealing enough in theory, but in practice made me wish I’d saved myself the trouble and simply gone to Outback.
These were not those ribs, though. Wells’ sauce is incredibly simple: Mix three ingredients in a bowl. Wells suggests you make your own Thai curry paste and provides a recipe for that; I used a jar of red curry paste from the supermarket. The sauce has just the right level of heat and flavor, and would be fantastic on grilled chicken or grilled anything, really.
I enjoyed the ribs, though I was hoping for a bit more spiciness; I doused mine liberally with the extra sauce for added flavor. I think marinating the meat in a bit of the sauce ahead of time might do the trick. Mr. Faraway thought the ribs were delicious the way they were, and didn’t need a thing. We agreed the sauce was superb.
- ½ cup honey
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Thai curry paste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 racks baby back pork ribs (4 lbs total)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 300⁰ F.
- Prepare the sauce: combine honey, tomato paste, and curry paste in a small bowl.
- In a large roasting pan over moderate heat, heat the oil until hot but not smoking, Add the pork ribs and brown well on each side, about 2 minutes per side. With a pastry brush, brush about half of the sauce on the ribs. Reserve the remaining sauce to serve at the table. Sear meat for a minute more per side.
- Pour with wine and lemon juice over the ribs.
- Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil, and place in the center of the oven. Cook about 1 ½ hours, until the meat is very tender and you can wiggle the bone from the meat with very little effort. Cut the ribs into serving portions and serve with the remaining sauce.