pork

Posole

I had a birthday dinner for my dad this weekend. It was small, it was loud, it was delicious. It was an alliterative meal of padron peppers, posole, and pies. I’ll tell you all about the pies later, but for the moment I need to spread the posole word.

You can find lots of recipes for posole out there, and I’m sure they are all fabulous. I will say, however, that many of them seem unnecessarily complicated. Posole is a simple dish of pork and hominy seasoned with chile. Not much more is really required. Some salt is going to help things along, and some garlic and a bit of oregano help deepen and round out the flavor.

I kept it frighteningly simple. Rustic, was my dashing husband’s comment, and I took it as a compliment. The bowls were emptied, re-filled, and re-emptied, which I take as the most sincere of compliments people can pay a cook.

Get the recipe for posole. I like to pile a bit of lime cumin cole slaw on top, letting the shreds of cabbage sink down into the posole, adding crunch and freshness to every spicy rich bite.

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Spaghetti squash “noodles”

My dashing and I have some classic marital opposites-attract divisions. I would like the house to stay in a state of perpetual spotless delight; he is a big slob. I think 3 o’clock means 3 o’clock; even our son knows his father’s “half an hour” has nothing to do with 30 measurable minutes. One thing we can really agree on though is this simple truth: spaghetti squash sucks.

We had both, at separate points in our lives, been served spaghetti squash topped with marinara sauce and told it was a delightful substitute for pasta. Maybe you like that kind of nonsense, but we sure don’t.

I once had to come up with a spaghetti squash recipe for work so I tossed with with a jalapeño-infused cream, smothered it in cheese, and baked the living daylights out of it. Of course that was good (check it out). My local foods site for About.com had a noticeable dearth of spaghetti squash recipes, and the people, they seem to really want to eat spaghetti squash. So I got to thinking, and thinking. And then it occurred to me: Spaghetti squash isn’t much like pasta, but it is somewhat like rice vermicelli. So I made a family favorite — pork and rice noodles — using spaghetti squash as the noodles. Everyone agreed: very tasty. It’s so good for you it’s almost wrong, but the mild sweetness of spaghetti squash works with the spice in this dish remarkably well.

Get the recipe for Spicy Spaghetti Squash “Noodles”. Note: You will need some cooked spaghetti squash to make it.

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Celebration dumplings

We had our first day of school in the San Francisco public schools last week. It seemed early in theory, but just about right in practice. I was ready to have the predictable schedule of school back in our lives. My son didn’t necessarily agree, but was excited to see his friends. He was also excited when I told him that we could make dumplings for dinner.

Ernest’s favorite foods are dim sum, sushi, tacos, and pizza (plain cheese pizza, he would emphasize while holding up his index finger in a way that reminds me of my grandmother making an important point). As with fried chicken and mac-n-cheese, he was deeeee-lighted to learn that we could actually make dumplings right here in our own kitchen.

Unlike our other adventures of making food he usually only gets when we’re out, we did and will be making dumplings again. Ernest got so into helping make the dumplings that when we made them again on Sunday (and my dashing husband got his hands dirty, too) we had them done – start to finish – in less than 30 minutes.* (The first round took a bit longer simply because the filling included Swiss chard which required cooking down before turning into the filling.)

Pork and Swiss chard dumplings

These dumplings are fairly quick and very easy to pull together. Yes, the pork cooks when you boil the dumplings.

1 bunch Swiss chard

2 scallions

1 tablespoon freshly shredded ginger

1 tablespoon dry sherry or rice wine

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon chili oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1/3 pound ground pork

about 40 won ton wrappers

Rinse Swiss chard leaves until clean. Cut out the white stems from the Swiss chard leaves. Finely chop the stems. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, cook the chopped stems with a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add leaves, cover, and cook until leaves are completely wilted. Transfer leaves and stems to a cutting board – carefully leaving any liquid in the pan behind – and let sit until a bit cooled off. Addendum: You need to remove as much liquid still in the chard as you can. There are several ways to do this: put chard in a fine mesh sieve and press on it with a spoon, put chard in a clean kitchen towel or layers of paper towels and squeeze it, or simply pick up the chard in small handfuls and squeeze the liquid out. Whichever method you use, try not to think of all the tasty vitamins and whatnot going down the drain. The supreme texture and loveliness of the dumplings will comfort you soon. Finely chop the chard and transfer to a medium bowl.

Finely chop the scallions and add to chard. Add ginger, sherry, soy sauce, chili oil, and sesame oil. Use your hands to combine everything. Add the pork and, again, use your hands to gently mix the ingredients together.

When you start, just work with four to six wrappers at once. When you get going, though, you can lay out a dozen at a time. Set up your filling station with a clean work surface, a small bowl of water, a spot for the bowl of filling, and a large baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.

Note: If you plan to cook them right after making them, you might as well put on a large pot of water to boil now.

Lay out four to six won ton wrappers on the work surface.

Dot the center of each one with about a teaspoon of filling.

Use your fingers (or a pastry brush, I suppose, if you like to clean things) to wet the edges of the wrappers. This is a very important step because the water is what will allow you to seal the wrapper shut, so don’t skimp!

Now fold one corner over the filling to its opposite corner to make a triangle and use your fingers to firmly press the edges together and seal them.

Now pull up the two corners that are farthest away from each other and press them together to seal them.

Voila!

Set this dumpling on the cornstarch-sprinkled tray and make three to four dozen more.

(These were made using the technique of bringing up all four corners to the center and sealing the edges; a method that we found 1) trickier and 2) not as attractive after boiling.)

When ready to cook, make sure the pot of boiling water is well salted and put the dumplings in somewhat gently. Boil, stirring gently now and again, until cooked through, about 3 minutes.

While they boil, move the baking sheet on which you held them next to the stovetop and put a cooling rack over it. Drain the dumplings by lifting them out of the water with a slotted spoon and placing them on the cooling rack.

Transfer to shallow bowls. Serve with soy sauce, chili oil, or whatever sounds yummy to you. We ate ours with a sauce of 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 3 tablespoons chili oil, and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and topped with minced cilantro.

We have a lot of ideas floating around our house for future dumpling fillings these days. I’d love to hear yours.

* The Sunday dumplings had a shrimp and chive filling. Pulse 1 pound shelled raw shrimp (I used some great wild-caught Florida pink shrimp that were wonderfully flavorful) and 3 bunches chives in a food processor. Then fill dumplings as above – seriously it is just that simple and crazy delicious.

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Rice bowl

This is for all the lovelies out there just trying to get a tasty dinner on the table – you know who you are. It isn’t fancy, but the bright ginger, fresh asparagus, rich pork, and hearty brown rice make for a deeply satisfying dinner after a long, hard day. You start cooking the pork and asparagus while the rice and egg cook, so while there is sort of a lot going on at once, much of it is hands-off.

Rice bowl

This – and by “this” I mean a bowl of rice with stuff on it – is a favorite around our house. I’m partial to the ground pork and asparagus combo, but greens, butternut squash, and minced chicken has its fans, as does the tofu, peas, and spinach combo I’ve broken out on occasion.

2  cups  short-grain brown rice

1/2  teaspoon  salt

4  eggs (optional)

1  pound  ground pork

1/2  cup  sake or white wine (optional)

2  tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste and/or for serving

2  bunches asparagus or similar amount (lots) of your favorite vegetable

1  piece ginger, about 4 in. long

3  cloves garlic

8  green onions

2  tablespoons  vegetable oil, divided

Cilantro for garnishing

Bring 4 cups water, the rice, and the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender to the bite, about 35 minutes. Or, do as I do and set it all up in a rice cooker and forget all about it.

While the rice is cooking, cook everything else. First things first: Hard boil the eggs. I use Julia Child’s method and it turns out a perfect egg every single goddamn time: put eggs in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling – not just tiny bubbles along the edges of the pan, but big bubbles coming up all over – cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let sit 14 minutes. Drain and peel the eggs under cool running water. Slice and set aside.

While the eggs are cooking, put the pork in a medium bowl and pour the sake or white wine and the tamari or soy sauce over it. Mix gently and let sit until you’re done with the eggs.

If you still have some time waiting for the eggs, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into bite-size pieces (or peel/chop/prep whatever vegetable you’re using).

Now grate the ginger, mince the garlic, and chop the green onions.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil and the pork and cook, stirring once in a while, until the pork is about half-way cooked – some is cooked through and some isn’t and none if it is starting to brown yet. Add 3/4 of the grated ginger. Stir in the ginger and cook until the pork is cooked through and starting to get brown in some spots.

Transfer the pork to a bowl or plate and cover to keep warm. Return the pan to the stove and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the remaining ginger, garlic, and green onions. Cook, stirring, until the fragrances blend, about a minute. Add the asparagus, stir to combine, add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 4 minutes (other vegetables may take longer).

While the asparagus cooks, chop or mince the cilantro.

The rice should be done now. Divide the rice between four deep cereal or chili bowls. Top with asparagus, pork, and a sliced hard boiled egg. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with tamari or soy sauce on the side for people to add to taste. We put various hot sauces and hoisin on the table at our house, too.

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Pork and bean thread noodles

porkbeanthreaddf

I spent some enjoyable hours reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s memoir, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China, last month. So imagine my delight when I pulled out an old family favorite from my recipe collection and noticed that it was from a Saveur story by said Fuchsia Dunlop. (She recently wrote a thoughtful piece on her decision to stop eating shark’s fin – despite a long-time resolution to eat everything she is served – for the BBC. It’s worth checking out for anyone who ever feels that their politically influenced dietary practices cause diner table tension.)

This is truly a 30-minute meal. Alongside it we usually add some sauteed greens or a tossed salad with crisp lettuce (like Romaine) drizzled with a dressing of 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, 2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar, 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil, a teaspoon or two of mirin or 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and soy sauce to taste.

Pork and bean thread noodles

I think is really is best when made with pork, but I’ve used ground chicken, ground turkey, and ground beef all to great effect. The ground lamb experiment, however, did not go so well. I made it once using picked crab meat in place of the ground meat, which was pretty tasty but, of course, completely undid the frugal appeal of this dish. We’ve never found the amount in the original recipe nearly enough for the three of us, so the amounts here are duly adjusted.

1/2 pound bean thread noodles

2 Tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

1/2 – 3/4 pound ground meat

1/4 cup rice wine or dry sherry (I will admit to having used sake or dry white wine when we had no Chinese rice wine or sherry around and they both worked  just fine)

2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste

3 Tablespoons chile bean paste [also sold as "chile bean sauce" or with the word "red" thrown in there – in any case both soy beans *and* fava beans or broad beans should be in the ingredient list]

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

6 green onions, chopped

Put the noodle in a large bowl and cover with hot water, let them sit about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Heat oil until it shimmers a bit. Add ground meat and cook, stirring, until it starts to brown.

Add sherry and soy sauce and cook, stirring, until liquid is half absorbed/evaporated. Add chile bean paste and cook, stirring, until the whole thing smells spicy, a minute or two. You need to stir a lot here to keep the paste from burning at all.

Add stock and bring to a simmer. Add more soy sauce to taste. Add drained noodles and simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in green onions and serve hot.

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Spaetzle

spaetzle

My dashing husband was out the other night and that has started to mean one thing: meat.

He tries to be a vegetarian, or at least eat vegetarian as much as possible. That leaves my son and me craving meat, especially classic meat-centered meals like a nice chop.

So I defrosted some pork chops, pulled out a jar of sauerkraut, and mixed some flour and egg together to make spaetzle.

I’ve seen boxed “spaetzle mix” at stores. Like pancake mix, it’s a convenience item I don’t really understand. How is mixing powder and water really so much easier than mixing flour and egg?

Spaetzle

I never had much luck with spaetzle until I found this formula in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. This recipe makes a fairly runny spaetzle dough, so those spaetzle makers that have you “grate” the dough into the boiling water won’t work here. Better is a large-holed ricer or colander.

This makes enough spaetzle for 4 standard servings, but my son and I can eat this whole batch. Easily. Luckily, it doubles and triples with great success.

1 1/2 cups cake flour (all purpose flour works too, but cake flour does make a more tender, delicate dumpling)

2 eggs

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so the water tastes salty.

Meanwhile, put the flour in a medium bowl and make a well or dip in the center of the flour. Crack the eggs into the center. Use a fork to whisk the eggs and gradually incorporate the flour into the egg. At this point you’ll have a fairly thick mixture that straddles the divide between dough and batter. Add 2 tablespoons warm water and mix. Add up to 2 more tablespoons of warm water to thin the batter out so it can “drain” out of the ricer or colander holes.

Place the ricer or colander over the boiling water. Use a spatula to scrape the spaetzle mixture into your device of choice. Use the spatula to push all the mixture through the holes and into the boiling water. The mixture should break into spaetzle-sized pieces as it drops into the water. If that isn’t happening (that is, if the mixture is thicker than I try to make it), use a paring knife to cut the dough as it comes out of the holes.

The spaetzle will sink, then float. Let them cook for about a minute after they float. Drain like pasta or fish out the spaetzle with a slotted spoon if you’re making more than one batch.

Serve spaetzle while hot or – and this is what I do 95% of the time – saute the spaetzle in a hot frying pan with any meat juices you might have another dish or just in plenty of butter. The spaetzle gets crunchy brown bits that counter the tender dumpling nature of the boiled nuggets to perfection. Add herbs if you’re so inclined.

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The other night I seared the pork chops in a frying pan, transferred them to a hot oven to finish cooking, deglazed the luscious pork bits from the pan with about 1/2 cup of beer, stirred in a tablespoon of whole grain mustard, and cooked the spaetzle in that. Then I heated up the sauerkraut and we ate like kings. Stuffed, gluttonous kings.

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Green chile stew

greenchilestew

Anyone else remember all that green chile I ate last spring in New Mexico and West Texas? I imagine the memory is less compelling, less sweet for someone who just read about it instead of digesting it.  Still, perhaps you remember all that talk about how I was going to figure out how to make it?  I used all of my stew-making knowledge and sha-zam: delicious green chile stew.

I was cooking for two families, and children besides my own relatively omnivorous son were involved, so I kept the whole thing on the mild side. To punch it up I served the stew with a serrano-jalapeno-red onion relish for the grown-ups to dabble on top of the stew. It’s a relish that I would happily swathe on pretty much anything (2 jalapenos, 1 serrano, 1 small red onion – all very finely minced – with about a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt to taste). A few warm corn tortillas (for the grown-ups to eat with their stew and for the children to make masks out of with strategic hole-biting) rounded out the delicious, soul- and gut-warming creation.

Feel free to add  few hotter chiles to the stew for an all-in-one spice fest.

Green chile stew

12 large mild green chiles, such as Hatch chiles

1 large onion

2 Tablespoons lard or vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste (if you’re using commercial broth, reduce this amount to about 1/2 teaspoon)

2 lbs. well-trimmed pork butt or shoulder cut into bite-size pieces

2 Tablespoons flour

1 cup beer or broth or water

2 cups broth or water

First things first, you need to roast and peel those chiles. You can roast the chiles over a gas burner or under a broiler. Then put the chiles in a bowl and cover with a pot lid or foil. Let them sit and steam and cool down a bit for at least 15 minutes. Scrape off and remove peels, pull off stems, remove seeds, and chop. Set chiles aside.

Then peel and thinly slice the onion. Heat lard or oil in a large, heavy pot. Add onions,  chiles, and salt and cook, stirring when you think of it, until soft, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl, leaving as much fat in the pot as possible.

Brown the pork, working in batches just large enough to be in the pot in a single layer of pieces that don’t touch. This step adds extra flavor and helps melt some of the fat off the meat.

Once you’ve browned all the pork and have transfered it out of the pot, sprinkle the remaining fat/oil in the pot with the flour. Cook, stirring, until flour smells cooked, about 3 minutes. Add beer, broth or water and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. The mixture should thicken up fairly quickly. Add the 2 cups of broth or water and return vegetables and pork to the pot. Everything should be covered by liquid, add more broth or water if necessary.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, covered until pork is extremely tender, about an hour. Alternatively, you can put the whole covered pot in a 350 oven and bake for about an hour.

Remove lid and simmer to reduce and thicken liquid, if you like. Add more salt to taste, if you like.

You can cool the stew and remove the fat that will congeal on top, but that would be very silly of you because that fat is just amazingly delicious.

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Carne adovada

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You know how sometimes you dread something and then you have a good time doing it but by the time everything is said and done you remember why you were dreading it in the first place? That, in a nutshell, was my Sunday.

I’ve never liked Sundays. I know my mother and brother have the same weird, unsettled, vaguely unhappy sense on Sundays. I only recently realized why. This summer the whole family came up to the family cabin in Northern Minnesota for a long weekend. Within two hours of everyone being there my brother and I started lamenting how quickly the weekend would go.

“Typical Watson behavior,” my sister-in-law laughed, “always dreading the end in the middle.”

I’m glad she can laugh at it. But it seems pretty entrenched and it does mean that we start mourning the weekend when there is still a full half of it left to enjoy.

So there I am, not liking Sundays anyway, dreading the end to my weekend – at the end of which my bosom buddy from graduate school would head home to Seattle from her weekend visit, making its passing all the more un-fun – driving to Sacramento in 100-degree heat. I know. It sounds like a bad idea, doesn’t it? Well, we needed to see a baby. A brand new baby who, despite our pleas to her mother years ago, lives in Sacramento. It’s difficult not to dread a drive to Sacramento. It’s 1 1/2 to 2 hours from my house and it’s not a particularly pretty drive (by my spoiled California standards, anyway), what with the strip malls and car dealerships that dot the highway’s sides. It’s not a space-out, zen-with-the-road kind of drive either. It’s crowded and you need to be on the ball the whole way and at any moment horrible, mind-numbing, anger-inducing, insane-making traffic could appear out of what appears to be nowhere (sorry, Fairfield, but that is how I think of you). Oh, and some part of my car had been hanging down and hitting the road making a horrible noise, so I was also worried that the whole thing will fall apart at any minute despite assurance that it wouldn’t because a friend’s husband had kindly duct-taped it (!) to hold for the day.

Did I mention it was hot? Like 100 degrees? Maybe over? The kind of hot that car air-conditioning can’t really handle? Did I mention that part?

But we did want to meet this baby. So away we went with Ernest in the backseat because the baby has a big sister who is a terrible amount of fun.

Just as we crossed the Carquinez Bridge – just at that moment when we were too far to turn back in any reasonable way – my friend realized she forgot the presents she bought for the girls and I, in turn, realized I forgot the carne adovada I made the newly expanded family. We made our way there, fortified with cool beverages and the knowledge that our company really was more welcome than our offerings of toys and food, and had a lovely time. Then we drove home. It could have been worse. There could have been more traffic. It could have been hotter. Ernest could have spilled even more juice all over himself and the backseat.

The upside, of course, is that – after the temperature dropped yesterday and San Francisco’s famously chilling westerly winds picked up – we got to have carne adovada last night. I first had this when my pal, Amy Traverso, made it when we both worked at Sunset. Then on our New Mexico-West Texas road trip last spring I had it for breakfast a few times, because diners in New Mexico tend to have it on their breakfast menus and who am I to argue with local tradition?

Stew pork, ground dried new mexico chile, onion… that’s pretty much it.

Carne Adovada

Note: Don’t let the full cup of ground red chile powder freak you out – New Mexican red chiles are relatively mild. Delicious dried ground New Mexican red chile powder is available at Chimayo To Go.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 pounds pork butt or shoulder, well-trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon flour or masa harisa
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) ground dried New Mexican red chile powder
6 cups water or broth

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large pot over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add pork pieces to brown (add only enough so the pieces are in a single layer and don’t touch each other; you will need to do this in batches). Pork should sizzle the minute it touches the pot; if it doesn’t, remove it and wait for the pot to heat up. Cook, undisturbed, until well-browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn and brown on all sides. Transfer pork to a large bowl or plate and repeat with remaining batches.
When all pork is browned and set aside, add onions, garlic, and salt to pot. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and pepper and cook, stirring, until flour smells like pie crust, about 3 minutes.
Add ground chile and stir to combine. Add 4 cups water and bring to a boil.
In a blender, whirl chile mixture until smooth. Return to pot and add another 1 cup water and reserved pork. Bring to a boil, cover, and bake 1 hour. Stir, add additional 1 cup water if stew seems dry, and bake until pork falls apart with a fork and sauce is thick, about another hour. Serve hot or at least warm.

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Bourbon Glazed Pears

My absence has been worth it. Seriously. I come to you bearing…. Bourbon Glazed Pears.

I cook a lot. I cook a lot of delicious, scrumptious, delectable food in the process. But I’m a simple girl. Even my elaborate cooking projects tend to have an old-fashioned, homey appeal. Sausage making, for example, or way-too-homemade cassoulets (there is really no need, I learned, to confit your own duck). So even when I come up with something yummy, like those enchiladas earlier this month, I’m not usually surprised or even really excited. Satisfied, I would say, is more often the feeling. But these pears! There is only one way to describe them: I am a genius.

Wait, that’s not really about them, is it?

What happened was this: my dashing husband was not home for dinner. (Wait, didn’t that just happen with the brilliant green beans? Perhaps I should bar him from coming home for dinner ever again….) You see, along with avoiding fried food, he is also “trying to be a vegetarian.” You might think someone either is or isn’t a vegetarian. Not my guy. He would like to be, he says he feels better when he doesn’t eat meat. But he is faced with this problem: meat is delicious. He can’t resist. Plus, he’ll be the first to point out that the non-meat options often available just are not very tasty. So he slips. He has a turkey sandwich at lunch, tries a bite of my carnitas at a restaurant, shares pork-laden dim sum with our son. And he’s lucky. In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t really cook much meat. I was a vegetarian for years, formative, starting-to-cook-for-myself years, so meat is not my go-to item. I like meat and notice I get sick less often if I eat it now and again, but it’s not as if he is faced with delicious roasts he must resist every night at dinner.

If I’m going to eat meat, however, I want it to be high-quality meat from animals who lived like animals. So I joined a meat C.S.A. That’s right. I belong to a meat club. Every month I get my share of the animals slaughtered at the lovely Clark Summit Farms in Tomales in Marin County. So my beloved deep-freeze has a fair amount of free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, and well-petted pork sitting around, waiting for my husband not to be home for dinner.

So I defrosted the two pork chops I got in the last share, picked up Ernie from school, and told him on the way home that we were having pork chops for dinner.

“What are pork chops?” he asked.
“They’re meat,” I said.
[pause]
“Mama, what animal is pork chops?”
“They come from a pig,” I answered.
“Oooooohhhh!” he replied as a *huge* grin spread across his face.

So I quickly cooked the chops in a frying pan and set them aside to rest. And then, inspired by the memory of an awesome pork shoulder with garlic, chiles, and pears I did for Sunset (they even made it for me at my good-bye lunch), added a bit of butter to the pan, de-glazed with bourbon (inspired by the Pear Upside Down Cake from the same story), sauteed some garlic and chiles with wedges of peeled pear and amazed myself. I will never serve applesuace with pork again. I will serve sauteed pears. And I’ll probably glaze them with a buttery-bourbony-pork drippings concoction if I can.

Oh yeah, I also made this Butter Braised Savoy Cabbage. It was also fab. Highly recommended. So simple! You could add some caraway seeds if you were feeeling fancy, I suppose, but the simplicity of the butter, cabbage, and salt is terribly effective at being delicious.

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Pig roast!

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That’s right. I said Pig Roast. The pig was raised by who seemed to be a very nice man who lives a bit north of here. It was slaughtered this week by same said nice man, brought to our neighbors’ place and roasted to perfection by–you guessed it!–same said nice man. The resulting delight was served up to hoards of friends and family while draft Summit Pale Ale and draft 1919 Root Beer* flowed, children frolicked on the lakeshore, people cooed at new babies they hadn’t met yet, and everyone generally caught up with each other over plates of highly flavorful pig, chips, pickles, and beans.

It was a fine way to pass a few hours. Many of my own family were there, as well as scads of old family friends. I had never, however, met the hosts before. My hat (wide brimmed, striped ribbon I bought in Paris 10 years ago) is off to them. It’s no small endeavor to put on a pig roast and extend your hospitality to strangers.  Well done Trish and Tamara!

*This stuff is good. I don’t even particularly care for root beer and I love it. It is made with sugar, not corn syrup, in New Ulm, Minnesota and available only on tap. I love the company’s take on soda consumption on the FAQ page of their web site:

Question: We hear daily about the obesity epidemic in our country, people are ingesting too many calories and especially sodas. How would you reply to that?

We would agree. It is not unusual to hear people talk about drinking 6 to 12 cans of soda a day. We certainly do not advocate that!

1919 Classic American Draft Root Beer is a destination soda… you go to a restaurant that has 1919 on draft for a TREAT. As in 1919 – today, soda should be an occasional treat and, like any treat – make it special!

Anyone else charmed by the concept of a “destination soda”?

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