My Big Fat Pork Butt…..Perfected
January 20, 2012

See the raven head?? See it???

Ok, I ran out of purple pretty quickly in my closest…it’s just not a color I seek out, for some reason. So now the Ravens have made it another week in the playoffs, and I wore my best purple dress LAST Friday, sooooo….the bottom half of my dress is purple. I don’t know if anyone can see it on the news, but trust me, it is. And I have on the Ravens earring s you see above…and that’s just gonna have to do it this purple Friday.

All coated in herbs, salt and pepper, ready for searing..

Though for good luck, I think I may again make the pork butt in apple cider….but I did something different last week, that’s worth repeating. Instead of apple cider, I used fresh sqeezed orange juice.

OK, NOW they're ready for the compost pail....

Not that I’m a fresh squeezed snob, but I had some oranges and tangerines that were starting to harden on the outside, but inside, they were perfection. Fished them out of the compost bin(where the hubby had put them), cut them in half and squeezed out the juice. Ta-da!

Pour this in around the roast....or heck, mix with vodka...

A nice comfy bed of veges for the butt to cook in...

And I used a different recipe in the end…(not wildly different)…and this one called for deglazing the pan after searing the meat and the veges, with a little bourbon. That just can’t be wrong. Here is the recipe for My Big Fat Pork Butt Perfected, that I found on a blog called Bootnik.Oh, and it calls for brining the roast(which I did for 12 hours) so start a day ahead….remember you still need a good 4 hours of cooking time.

 I leave you this Friday with some words from the late Ron Smith, whose memorial service knocked me out this week…really, it was amazing.

What is a mere individual to do? Live as sane and decent a life as you can, love your family and friends, and understand that everybody is in this together.”

Here, here. Have a great weekend everyone, do something nice for someone, be sane and decent, and because Ron would want me to say it…Go Ravens!

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It’s Smokin’ !! The low down on smoking the salmon….
August 8, 2011

Baby Girl is quite enthused about this project....maybe too much?

I love, love, love smoked salmon….would eat it every day if I could…but that stuff is expensive! So….ever think of smoking your own? That’s what we did this weekend… and it turned out better than I dreamed.

you can ditch the greenery if you like.... ...

But the results were delicious….You start with a brine….which means simply a salt/sugar based liquid in which the fish will cure for anywhere from a few to quite a few hours…in ours we just used a quarter cup salt(make sure it has no anti-caking chemicals-many salts do) and a quarter cup brown sugar. And the fish brined for a few hours in the fridge. Then you air dry the fish(this was when Baby got into the whole process), until it gets a weird film on it. The pellicle is supposed to be white,  but ours never was. However, it was sticky to the touch  as it’s supposed to be, before it goes into the smoker for a few hours. The result was really moist, very smokey…and fabulous

Goya cracker, salmon cream cheese, and smoked salmon...

And I found a wonderful new bakery this weekend(new to me anyway)…my neighbor had given us some cupcakes a few weeks ago, as a thank you for helping do a little makeover on their garden.

Their "Harvest' cookie..oatmeal, fruit, nuts...totallty delish...

I had to know where they came from…and the answer was Touche Touchet, in Howard County…Columbia.  I found my way there Saturday…and bought some sweet treats…including some harvest cookies, and their amazing cupcakes.

Key Lime Pucker...with a tart lime curd filling...

The Key Lime Pucker is maybe my fave…

Classic combo...chocolate and peanut butter....

…or the Chocolate Peanut Butter? They were a lovely end to the weekend, when you just need a little treat, you know?

What’s cookin’ this weekend???
March 25, 2011

Hello, lover....what's cookin'?

Ok, it’s not gonna be a spring weekend…so let’s just get the thoughts of something super-springy on the menu right out of your mind. With snow in the forecast..alas…it’s a weekend for something a bit heartier. So I modestly offer what I had last weekend…a perfectly braised and roasted chicken, surrounded by vegetables and pancetta. Super-easy, super-delish. here we go.

Love the witty Joseph Joseph glass cutting board...

First, quarter some new potatoes…..any taters will do, but red ones do add a dollop of color. And the toughened glass cutting board is from Joseph Joseph…it’s the queen made from vegetables, and I love it. They have all kinds of witty ones, including Elvis made from veges.(Update: just heard from a reader, Jamie, that glass cutting boards dull your knives pretty quickly…and when I googled it, found he was absolutely right…see this post on things that dull your knives! I’ll save the glass cutting board for serving something…maybe cheeses, or crudite?) Darn it, it’s still cute.

Onyums...

Then some onions….I think I cut these too small….quartered onions would be more substantial at serving time. My bad.

Carrots, and some chopped pancetta...

Add some carrots….and don’t be stingy, I feel like I never do enough carrots! Teh chopped pancetta I get from Trader Joe’s, already in this perfect little dice. I keep some in the freezer, for all kinds of dishes…adds a lovely flavor(duh, it’s Italian bacon). Here it is, ready for the oven after I added some garlic cloves, wine in the bottom, salt and pepper, and some Provencal herbs.  I covered it and cooked it for two hours at 325 degrees, then removed the top and upped the temp to 400 for another 30 minutes or until browned on top. Get some crusty bread and dinner is ready! Get crazy and invite your neighbors over for dinner….a new study out this week said that social connections…make you lots happier than money(ok, not happier, but as happy)….and when your friends get there, give them a glass of wine, don’t throw rocks or talk politics, and wherever you go, come home safe…’cause we miss you!

Guess who’s coming to dinner….and it has fur…
October 12, 2010

Guess who's coming to dinner...and not leaving?

Yes, house guests are descending on me tonight….one human… and one cat. My daughter’s apartment is being bombed(as in fumigated) tomorrow…and since her cat Spencer is somewhat delicate with his kidney problems…she and Spence will staying with us a couple of days. She’s a little upset over the whole thing…evidentally next door neighbors in her building left for a few months, and left food and stuff they shouldn’t have around(bad neighbors, bad)…now there’s a roach problem.(You’re not a real Baltimorean/New Yorker until you kill a cockroach with your bare hand!….courtesy of How I Met Your Mother).

talk about cooped up...poor Spencer...

This presents a couple of issues, the biggest of which is my cats. We’ve decided(meaning I’ve decided)  that Baby Girl and Muffy really won’t cotton to a new housemate, especially a huge, new, male, feline beast. And you know I have my own issues with Baby Gaga being put on prozac(read here)….for inappropriate peeing, so the last thing I want to do is upset her apple cart right now. So Spence will be corralled in my daughter’s room, along with his litter box, food and water.

B to the G says, "Bring it, Spencer."

My daughter cried foul over this, saying how cruel it is to Spencer,  to be cooped up in one room, blah, blah….I replied that really, he already lives in a one room place( a studio apartment), soooooo…it can’t be that different, can it? Plus he can explore his limited space in peace, without the hissing and howling of two female kitty-cats who will loathe him on sight. And they’ll all be separated by several rooms…each with their own section of the house.  I hope this works.

Catfish fingers...dusted with cornmeal and fried....

Dinner at Darker Than Blue Cafe on Greenmount was really quite nice…it’s a tiny place, so when the jazz trio(which was very good) was really jamming, it was LOUD…forget about conversation or even hearing what the specials were…I just ordered from the menu. The Catfish fingers were ab fab….dusted with cornmeal and quick fried…divine. I ordered the ribs…really tender..and only one quibble with my meal. I’m pretty sure the mashed potatoes were from a box. I know what they taste like, because my Mother thought they were the best thing ever invented when we were growing up(she was wrong). But…no. Just make real mashed potatoes or don’t serve them…it’s lazy cooking. But it was a nice evening…and I’ll go back…just won’t order mashed potatoes. My daughter loved her shrimp and grits, and the service was lovely….and byob!

Made it...loved it...

Oh, I have to tell you I did make the recipe for Olive Oil Cake….adore it…but I have a suggestion for a slight change. Instead of coating the pan with olive oil and flour as the recipe suggests, coat it with corn meal instead…gives a nice little extra crunch to the edges. And while I did dutifully poach pears and figs in red wine to go with it…I would have liked even better fresh orange segments, to pick up the orange flavor in the cake(I also used orange liqueur instead of Amaretto ’cause I didn’t have any). And the cake was even better the next day-love that!

A pulled pork weekend….
June 29, 2009

All you need is a bun or a piece of cornbread!

All you need is a bun or a piece of cornbread!

OK, here’s something I’ve made for the past two weekends in a row….it’s that good(and that easy).  You may remember that I had the caterer make pulled pork barbecue for the Friday night party in New York at my son’s wedding. It was just lovely, and got me to thinking….hey, why can’t I do that? So I looked over a few recipes, and kind of put together several,  for a slow-cooker-weekend-surefire-hit. Oh, and did I mention it’s easy on the budget? Well it is, baby, it is.

First, get a pork shoulder….my slow cooker will take about a 4 pounder, and you can find them at the supermarket for $1.99 a pound or less if they’re on sale.  I cut off any excess fat…though a little is good, let’s be honest. Dice an onion, put half in the bottom of your oiled cooker, plop the pork on top, salt and pepper, the rest of the onion…and maybe a cup or so of your favorite barbeque sauce( I like Baby Ray’s)…and a tiny bit (may a quarter cup) of water. Cook on low for 8 hours or until tender, OR on the high setting for about 5 hours. When the pork is tender, use two forks to pull it into shreds, drain some of the liquid, add more barbeque sauce. Dig in.

Simple, fabulous, thanks Callie...

Simple, fabulous, thanks Callie...

And for dessert, I made a super-easy cobbler recipe that I found on Callie’s Biscuits website….it’s called  A Cup, A Cup, A Cobbler.  And the title fits…it is pretty much a cup of this and a cup of that, extremely quick to throw together, and in this, the fresh fruit season where my beloved blueberries are yes, cheap, you can even make several and freeze them. And for those of you who who’ve never heard of Callie’s biscuits…I discovered them when I first went to Charleston a few  years back. These pricey, pretty delicacies are soooooo good. They only retailer that carries them in Maryland is Graul’s in Annapolis and St. Michaels. The benefit of not getting them mail order is avoiding the high shipping charges….and the price is high anyway…around $20 a dozen(little)biscuits…yikes….so I put this in the special treat category….that said, they are fabulous. 

Bonus recipe: this recipe from Apartment Therapy for slow cooked pork cooked on top of the stove also looks great…you might want to try it.