With all the rain delays around the farm these past few weeks, I have been in the kitchen trying to finish up the garden produce and clean out the freezer. One day when it was really chilly and I did not want to turn the furnace on, I dug down in the bottom of my freezer and found my last package of oxtail. Making beef broth is the best way to make a house feel warm and snuggly on a damp, dreary day. I will either use it right away or freeze it for another day to make soup or beef and noodles. Nothing beats homemade broth. I use my pressure pan to make broth. It saves a bunch of time. If you do not use a pressure pan, then use a large pot, add extra water and let simmer on low for 12-24 hours. The longer the better.
    The garden is on its last leg and so am I. I need to finish digging up my potatoes and pick the last of the tomatoes. I have tons of cherry tomatoes this year and found a neat recipe I cannot wait to try. Pickled cherry tomatoes sounds like a great way to store the last of summer in a jar. Of course, there are tomatoes that will never turn red, so my mom used to make fried green tomatoes. It is an acquired taste, but how can anything dipped in crackers and fried in butter taste bad? Enjoy.

Fried green tomatoes
Green tomatoes, sliced
2 eggs, beaten
Saltine crackers, crushed
    Melt butter in frying pan over medium heat. Dip tomato slice in beaten eggs and then dip in crushed crackers to coat. Place in frying pan. Fry two to three minutes then flip over and fry other side.
Refrigerated pickled tomatoes
1 pound cherry or grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup dill, chopped
1 cup water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
    Crush garlic and set aside. Remove green tops from tomatoes and, with a toothpick, poke a hole in each tomato. Chop dill and place in bowl with the tomatoes. In a medium saucepan, bring all other ingredients to a boil. Let cool slightly. Pour over tomatoes and let cool to room temperature. Pour into jars and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

Oxtail beef broth
3 pounds oxtail
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped in large chunks (do not need to peel, just wash)
3 celery stalks, chopped in large chunks (leaves and bottom go in too)
3 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
    Season oxtail with salt and pepper then brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Browning pulls out the meat flavor. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Add onion to pan to sauté until tender. Add garlic for one minute. Add vinegar to pull up any beef drippings on bottom of pan. Add butter and flour to make a quick roux. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about three minutes. Add tomato paste and 3 cups water. Stir. Return oxtail to pan. Add carrot and celery chunks. Add any seasonings (bay leaves, thyme, rosemary). Add more water to pan to fill half way. Put pressure lid and weight on pan. Turn heat up to high until weight starts to jiggle. Turn heat down and cook until the smells make you hungry, about one hour or a little longer. Shut off heat and let cool on stove top till pressure lock releases. Strain off juices. Discard veggies. Pull meat off bones and add to strained broth. Cool and put in gallon storage bags to store in freezer for later use.
    Natalie, Mark and his brother Al, farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are grown up and all involved in agriculture with hopes of someone returning to the farm. For questions or comments, please e-mail Natalie at mnschmitt@jetup.net.