Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For Posterity--the pulled pork recipe, because it worked.

Homemade Pulled Pork

Step One--cook the pork

For some batches I did it this way:
1 Tbsp. turmeric
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

Cut a pork loin (8-10 lbs.) into approximately four equal pieces. Rub each chunk with the seasonings. Use two crockpots and put two seasoned chunks into each crockpot. Sprinkle any remaining seasoning equally over the tops. Add a scant cup of water (maybe 3/4 cup). Cook on high for 4 hours, then on low for 4 hours. Remove from crockpots, pick off the fat and shred the meat with forks.

Reserve the broth. Cool, skim off fat, then warm it up and strain it through cheesecloth (or an old t-shirt, that's what I used, lining a colander). When making repeated batches, don't bother about skimming and straining until the end, just keep it in a pitcher or something, and use this liquid instead of water to moisten each ensuing batch.

When I got burned out on mixing my own seasonings to rub the pork, I just used Goya Adobo seasoning (available in the Goya part of the foreign foods aisle at Wegman's). It is good.

While the pork is cooking...

Step 2--make the barbecue sauce

(I start this right at the end of the cooking time for the pork, just before I get ready to take it out and shred it)

1/3 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cans tomato paste
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1-2 (I like 2) tsp. liquid smoke
a little water, as needed

In a fairly large saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion in it until very soft. Add the brown sugar and continue cooking until caramelized.
Stir in 2 cans of tomato paste. Then add the molasses, apple cider vinegar, salt, granulated garlic and liquid smoke. Add about 1/4 cup water, and simmer, loosely covered, over very low heat until pork has been shredded. If it takes you a long time (more than an hour) to finish shredding the pork, be sure to check the sauce, stir and add more water if needed.

Step 3--combine the pork and the sauce

After shredding the pork, it should fit into one crockpot (if you are using two of different sizes, use the bigger one at this point). Put the shredded pork into the crockpot (remember, you drained off the broth earlier), and pour the barbecue sauce over it. You may want to do it in two or three layers... pork, sauce, pork, sauce, etc. Cook on low for another hour or so for flavors to meld. Cool and put into freezer bags. (I prepared 5 loins, but only thawed and served 3.)

If you are making a lot and reheating it for a graduation party, here is where all that reserved, skimmed and strained broth comes in... as you are reheating the pulled pork before the party starts, add some broth now and then to keep it moist.

Serve with a bottle of nice, smokey BBQ sauce on the side for people to use as a condiment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Not what I was hoping

Today was a yucky day, one of those where it rains with reckless abandon on you while you are, for instance, walking across the SU campus to get to your car after a discouraging meeting with an adviser where your son learned that, contrary to what he had been told, he actually cannot fit the required pre-med coursework into a four-year schedule that also accommodates his music performance degree requirements.

Since his scholarship is from the school of music, he can't drop music courses.

But, we will have to pay for either a slew of summer school, or an extra year or two of classes in order for him to complete pre-med requirements. Which makes the scholarship seem rather less valuable, if you know what I mean.

So getting rained on--drenched--by huge, splatting drops the size of slugs added insult to injury. Which was compounded by the sun coming out immediately after we got into our van, which turned everything hot and steamy and humid and generally very uncomfortable.

And that is how the day went, scattered thundershowers broken up by periods of intense heat and humidity, until I just felt completely droopy and damp and stringy. And I even did my hair this morning, which is the first time in over a week, since I even forgot to do it for DJ's grad party (or to put on make-up, which is why you will not be seeing any pictures of me at that party).

It rained yet again on the sleeping bag that I washed for Jonathan between camp weeks and cannot for the life of me seem to get dry.

We picked up Schubert from the groomer in the midst of a punishing deluge... the poor dog was doubly traumatized.

Upon arriving home, we found that the robin whose nest sits in our weeping cherry tree was beside herself, soaked and squawking, practically screaming, hopping in a frenzy around the yard.

I observed her for awhile, and then noticed, camouflaged in the mulch of the landscaping, a small baby bird that could hardly hop, and was certainly not big enough the be out of the nest yet. I called the kids. We knew we should not touch the baby, or our smell would make the mother reject it. I retrieved a shovel from the garage, and Jonathan gently shooed the baby bird onto it. I felt just like the Snort in Are You My Mother?

Jon and Laura set up a ladder for me next to the tree, and I climbed up. Jon handed me the shovel so I could deposit the baby bird, but as I looked into the nest, I saw the bloodied and mangled remains of the other two baby birds. I did not know what to do. Jon said the crow that lives around here must have got them. He said, "Get me an air gun, and I'll get that crow!"

I wanted to clear out the death from the nest before putting the baby bird back, but they told me I must not touch the nest. So I dumped the little bird off the shovel and onto the lifeless, broken bodies of his siblings. It was an awful feeling.

(Here is a picture where you can see the baby birds hidden in the cherry tree leaves back before they had any feathers, when they were all still alive... click to enlarge; you can count the three gaping beaks)

The parent robins seem happy to have the baby back in the nest. I have seen them bringing beaks full of food to him. I imagine that perhaps they cleaned out the nest. I know they work very hard at keeping their nests clean after the original hatching, and also as the baby birds soil their nest. So maybe they know what to do about the dead bodies. Ugh.

On top of of all that, Shawn had been saying he wanted us to get away this weekend, just he and I, on a little overnight for some rest and relaxation since we don't get a vacation this year. But he called from work at 6:30 p.m. and said he had to go out for dinner with a potential new hire for their company. So instead of a nice dinner in a restaurant with my husband, I had cornflakes.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Working on DJ's graduation party.

We cooked all the pulled pork last week. The proverbial pork has been pulled, and frozen.

We have baked a lot of cookies (bars).

I ordered the cake on Tuesday.

Laura made him a Memory Board (with the help of Shannon and Tammy and Jennie).

I bought drinks (soda and water).

Jacinda is making Buffalo chicken wing dip and guacamole.

Tammy is bringing melon.

Grandma Brown is bringing fruit salad.

That's what's done. Right now, I am not going to think about what is not done.

I am going to clean the bathrooms. Because I am weird and I like cleaning bathrooms because it is a well defined task that relaxes me while making me feel productive.

I hope Shawn has the list I gave him.

There could be anywhere from 30 to 200 people. I think I can safely count on 30. There will be way too much food for 30 people. There probably won't be enough for 200. The unknown is terrifying.

The thought of inclement weather is also terrifying.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Can you tell which one is the UN-photogenic parent???

my personal favorite (above)

The sun was in my eyes.
And so we gave up.