Every passion cools. Sometimes pursuits become rote. Sometimes you realize you were just caught up in the moment and never were really all that excited about it from the beginning. In rare instances, desire ceases because it has been fed above and beyond its demands. (Even rarer still, one simply ceases to desire upon realizing it’s the root of suffering. That’s an entirely different pot of coffee.) Our humble household recently experienced such a rare instance after making this recipe for Jamaican oxtail stew one lazy Sunday.

To view it as a picture is to experience something that typically happens after eating. Simply put, it looks like shit. The finished product, though, is far from. Served with coconut rice and ample mojitos, this dish is simultaneously comforting and complex; our favorite combo of sweet, spicy and savory swaddled in unctuous meat. And there are plenty of leftovers to take to work. Our problems arose a few days after. Suddenly, nothing else would do. Stir fry was too bland. Italian favorites failed to console the broken 9-to-5 spirit. Even our favorite take-out was greasy and nauseous. Menu planning sessions were met with apathy because we just didn’t care anymore. Our tastebuds had jumped the shark.

Thankfully, we each suffered a bout of illness that suppressed even the basic need for food. The stew cured in its La Creuset home until we were healthy enough to consider cleaning out the fridge. What I found those weeks later was similar to how the stew began – murky, sticky and brown. I sighed knowing full well that we didn’t have any SOS pads, yet scrubbed anyway. After all, we were making Jamaican oxtail stew again.

Ally’s “Fashion May Fade, but Style is Eternal” Mojitos
(serves 1)

white rum
fresh mint
key limes
seltzer of choice (San Pellegrino rocks my world)

In a tall glass/clean Barilla pasta sauce jar/Ball jar, add one spoonful of sugar. You know, like the spoons you eat with. If you like your drinks sweet…actually, no. You don’t get to adjust this to your taste. I make a very well balanced mojito. So you have your spoonful of sugar in the glass. Add seven mint leaves, plus one sprig with leaves to the glass. Crush them gently in your hand before adding. Take any object long enough and thin enough to get into the bottom of the glass and crush the mint and sugar. This could be a pestle, a spoon or an actual muddler like those fancy home bartender types have cluttering their drawers. Even a modestly sized, clean dildo would work. Take your key lime and roll it on the counter top. This releases the oils into the lime and breaks down the plant fibers to release the juice. Cut it into quarters. Squeeze the juice into the glass, putting the spent quarters in there too. Get your crushing tool and crush the lime/mint/sugar together. Add 2 oz. of white rum. Stir – this insures that you don’t have get a mouthful of sugar at the end of the drink. Add 4-5 ice cubes. Top off with 3/4 ratio of seltzer. Stir again with an up and down motion to distribute flavors throughout the glass. Drink. Repeat responsibly and pray for an early spring.