The holidays have come and gone. And, we are gifted a brand new year. Many of us have made resolutions. Yes, one of the common plans is to be fit and shed those pesky ‘holiday’ pounds. And, I say ‘bravo!’ to us all.

I don’t know about you; but, I’m in quite a pickle. You see, I’m a food hoarder of sort. I don’t toss food that can be transformed and rejuved into something delicious and satisfying.

Take for instance my ham bone. Every given time I prop open my freezer, it’s there. It perches in that special spot and stare at me in a flirtatious manner.It knows my culinary weak spots, so it takes advantage of same.

For sure, I know that I’ll surrender. When you think about it, the odds are stacked up against me. For instance, the cool days of January don’t help. They make you want to hibernate and devour mouth-watering stews, soups and roasts.

I know what I’ll will do. I’ll make me a ham bone soup. I’ll fetch me some winter veggies and dice, chop and add to some softened red or pigeon peas simmered in some coconut milk. Without a doubt, I’ll add some fibrous wholesome foods, like sweet potatoes/yams.

Of course, I’ll thaw and make that special drop of that tempting ham bone with pieces of ham. Will pair with a few dumplings made with a trio of whole-wheat/all purpose/cornmeal. But, who I’m I kidding? I’ll cheat with a few little pieces of oxtail. Did someone say beef?

My ham bone soup will be flavored with aromatic spices and other ingredients like crushed garlic and pimento(all spice berries), ginger, fresh thyme, and scallion. I’ll toss in a few bouillons.

So guys, I won’t apologize. Though it’s a new year, I choose to be realistic and aim for a fine balance. I won’t deprive myself. Moderation is salient. I’m no fool; I’ll certainly try to incorporate some physical activities along the way. After all, before you know it, the winter thaw will disappear, and spring will be banging at our doors.


In Jamaica, there’s an old adage that says, “Patient man rides donkey.” And, as I prepped and cooked my braised Heineken oxtails, I knew for sure that the whole process entailed precious time. I had some to spare; so I was perfectly happy to execute this Jamaican dish with my twist.

Typically,  beer is not part of the braising liquid; however, I wanted to put a somewhat different spin on the dish. And I did so by adding a half bottle of Heineken beer. This gave additional robust flavors that didn’t rob the dish of its traditional taste.

Oxtails were braised (stove-top) for approximately 3 hours under low to medium heat until fork-tender. Approximately 15 minutes before completion, bow-tie dumplings (spinners) were added. And close to the ending of dish lima beans (butter) were added.

I rode my donkey alright. The final dish was succulent. Just as I desired, the oxtail pieces were tender and delicious. The beer greatly enhanced the thick brown sauce and meat to another level.


The price of oxtails is ‘through the roof’. I guess because of the holidays, the stores take advantage of their customers. I couldn’t believe the price the last time I saw it. It was close to $6.00 per pound. Come on,  you’re talking about a meat made up of bone, a little meat and fat to be discarded.  I’m glad I’m not a big lover of the meat. However, once in a while, I do get the feeling for it.

So, today, I had a feeling for a dish of oxtails. Already, I knew I had a few pieces in a small package that I had bought a couple of weeks ago. I’m used to the Jamaican way of cooking with butter beans and all the exotic spices and seasonings. This time I decided to exclude the beans.

Oxtails take quite sometime to be tenderized. If you have a pressure cooker then the duration of cooking is decreased enormously. Of course, I don’t own a cooker so I knew I had to at least give it a couple of hours and half to braise. It can be done in the oven or stove top. I decided to opt for the stove top.

Oxtails were seasoned  with salt and pepper along with crushed garlic and a dash of balsamic vinegar. A couple of hours later, a drizzle of canola oil was heated in a sturdy stock pot and oxtail pieces were tossed and browned after removing the pieces of garlic. A splash of red wine (cabernet sauvignon) was also added and scraped up all the bits at the bottom of pot.

To that, I added a few of root veggies like onions, carrots, bell peppers and celery. Also, thyme, allspice (pimento) were added. With a drizzle of soy sauce, I added tap water to cover oxtail pieces. Oxtails were slowly braised for approximately two and half hours after checking every 20 minutes to add extra liquid if needed.

When oxtails became fork tender, additional seasonings were added. Thanks to the butcher, I never had to skim any oil from my dish. I served my cooked oxtails with steamed asparagus and brown rice along with steamed green beans. I was happy.

Hmm, come to think of it, I should invest in a pressure cooker. You never know when I might need same.



Maybe, the scientific community can explain the odd reason for me and others who crave a comforting meal when it precipitates. You see, on my way home to my abode the previous evening it began to rain cats and dogs. Clearly, it wasn’t one of those summer showers, because there was a weather system in the area that brought on continuous rain. And boy, it came down in buckets.

I was home. I was safe; and guess what? I had food on my mind, real food. Okay, I love my green and crispy salads, but for some reason whenever it’s raining on the outskirts, I’ve to indulge in something comforting and filling.

Of course, it didn’t take me long to hatch a plan.I was tired and ravenous. My dear beloved freezer is not just there for making ice and storing uncooked meats/poultry and other foods. You see, whenever I have time on my hands or when I want to unwind, I always cook extra batches of dishes and store in the freezer. Oh,  it seems like I’m a hoarder of cooked grub. You go into my freezer and you’ll never know what you will discover. Call me a little nutty, but often times, I try to date and name the food on the container. One thing hate to do is to pry open a container and have to decipher the contents. That drives me ‘bananas’ especially when I’m hungry.

Anyway, so with a few steps I ventured to my freezer and retrieved a serving of rice and pigeon peas along with braised oxtails. I cooked this over the past week end. The wonderful thing about oxtails is that although it takes quite sometime to tenderize, I can just stick in the oven or on top of the stove and allow it to do its thing until its falling from the bones.

In conjunction with my oxtails, I bought a bag of pigeon peas from the frozen aisle that required just a few minutes of cooking time. This I cooked with an infusion of coconut milk, thyme,garlic, minced onion and green onions. I seasoned with salt and pepper and then added my rice and allowed it to cook to a fluffy finish.

All I needed to do was to defrost my beautiful oxtails and heated it through. I proceeded to steam a quick serving of baby spinach along with left-over carrots/beans. And, for us in Jamaica, no dish is ever complete without a serving of sweet goodness. Therefore, I decided on a few slices of plantain. I finished off my dish with a piece of ‘nature’s butter’, crushed avocado.

Rain, no problem. As I watched the rain formed puddles on my patio, I knew for sure that my stomach was happy and satiated. I smiled and watched the ducks waddled their behinds. Ah, I was happy. Guys, that was a winner of a dish.

And, as always be good to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.