When It Is Not Quite Spring Yet

While Maple Syrup season may be underway for some; for most the ground is still too cold and wet for much to happen. It can often be the time of flu or colds. I remember last year mid March I had a horrid cold right as we had some lambs arriving. Although I know that it doesn't actually make the cold go away any faster, Honey Tea does sooth my throat, and get me through. I even make a carafe of it, and take it with me to the barn; so I thought I'd share.

In a mug I add water, then about 1-2 Tbsp (lets be honest I just pour some in) of Apple Cider Vinegar, and 1-2 Tbsp Honey. If you like it sweeter add more, etc. If you prefer you can even substitute the vinegar for Lemon juice. 

Sticking with the honey is a great recipe from the Ethical Meat Handbook by Meredith Leigh. Roasted Lamb Rib with Orange, Fennel, and Honey Marmalade.

Marmalade:
4 Oranges, sliced thin with the peels on
1 whole fennel bulb and 1/2 of it's leaves thinly sliced (if you aren't sure about fennel just use less leaves)
1 lemon, zested and juiced (keep both in a bowl) then quarter the lemon and keep the seeds
6 cups water
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup honey

In a pot put the water, oranges, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Wrapped in cheesecloth add the quartered lemon. Simmer mixture for up to an hour - you want everything very soft. 

Once the mix is soft bring back to a boil, adding the fennel, sugar, and honey. Stir constantly until the mix reaches about 220 degrees Fahrenheit. It's ok if it is slightly less. The goal is to be able to place some marmalade on a plate, and have it slide together when you tilt the plate. If the mix is watery and runny, or doesn't slide as one - then stir and heat until further gelled. 

Meredith suggests using this on more than lamb, and to cool the mix in mason jars. 

For the ribs:
1/4 cup vegetable oil (sunflower, grapeseed, etc)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup of the marmalade you made above
1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Combine oil, garlic, paprika, pepper, and 2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Pat the ribs dry and rub it with the oil and spice mix. Cover the ribs and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. 

When you are ready to start cooking make sure to bring the ribs out and let them come to room temp (about an hour).Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. 

Place the ribs in a heavy, but shallow baking dish, and cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake for 1 1/4 hours. While the ribs bake, mix the red wine vinegar and remaining salt in a small sauce pan. Heat to a simmer. Once the ribs are done remove the foil, pour off any fat, and brush with the marmalade mixture before returning it to the oven for 10 minutes uncovered. Remove the ribs again after the 10 minutes, flip over, brush the underside with marmalade and return to the oven uncovered. You will continue flipping and brushing the ribs every 10 minutes until the marmalade is gone.

Then serve and enjoy!! I recommend eating these with fresh mashed potatoes (sweet potatoes are great too) and Brussel Sprouts. However, there are so many yummy combinations!