Austice: n., a wistful omen of the first sign of autumn — a subtle coolness in the shadows, a rustling of dead leaves abandoned on the sidewalk, or a long skein of geese sweeping over your head like the second hand of a clock. — “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows,” by John Koenig
This illustrated dictionary of imaginary words that we need but do not have is available at Trails End Bookstore.
In search of quiet trails lined with larch, we ascended Crater Creek Trail in the Golden Lakes area. The warm weather cooled, turning to snow once at the lake. We shared a thermos of squash soup before returning to lower elevations. The following day we found larch just turning and in fair abundance at the Loup Loup ski trails.
Earlier in the week, I ordered a mixed beef bundle from Methow Valley Food Shed and anticipated a dinner of slow-cooked shredded beef wrapped in roasted poblanos, smothered in tomato sauce. A flank steak would work perfectly in this recipe or make it vegetarian with sweet potatoes and black beans.
Start by warming olive oil in an oven-proof heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, over high heat. Sear all sides of the beef. Set aside. To the hot oil add a finely chopped onion and cook until translucent. Stir in one teaspoon each: chipotle pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander and oregano. Let spices bloom. Add minced garlic — as many cloves as keeps the vampires away. Pour in 32 ounces of tomato sauce, ½ cup orange juice, the zest and juice of one lime, and chopped tomatoes. Return meat to pot, cover, and simmer over low heat for two hours.
Place six large poblano peppers under a broiler for 5-10 minutes, turning every minute until skins are black and blistered. Remove peppers from oven and place in a covered bowl to let steam for another 5-10 minutes. While peppers are steaming and cooling, turn your attention to the beef. Remove pot from heat and move the beef to a large bowl. Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. If you do not have an immersion blender, go to Aspen Grove in Winthrop and buy one for yourself and one for a friend — everyone needs an immersion blender in their life. Using two forks, shred the beef. Spoon half the sauce into the beef and stir to combine.
When the poblanos are cool to the touch, peel off the blistered skins, remove the tops and seeds, and fill with saucy beef. Make note to use that term in a sentence this week. If someone starts to whine about Christmas songs before Thanksgiving or gas prices, respond with, “ooooo, that’s a saucy beef!”
Nestle the stuffed peppers into the remaining sauce in the pot. Crumble cotija cheese over the peppers and place the pot in a 450-degree oven for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is toasty brown.
The Pateros Fall Festival is this Friday, Oct. 28. Trunk or treat in the school parking lot from 4-6 p.m. To host a trunk, text (509) 679-8452. Activities include crafts and face painting by students who are fundraising for classes and sports teams. Movie in the gym, “The Addams Family,” starts at 6:15 p.m. Bring pillows and blankets. Concessions hosted by the Pateros Booster Club.