Monday, January 28, 2008

Haven't been up to blogging lately. Ethan caught a cold, and now I'm fighting it off... sore throat and achy muscles. Ugh.

Snow today and the kids went nuts. I attempted to drive out to my Mom's, but turned back about 1/3 of the way there. The roads were far more icy than I expected and my big ole' suburban fishtailed all over the place. When I saw the big hill I had to conquer ahead and cars sliding while trying to go up and coming down it was too risky for me.

So we played around outside for a bit here and then all vegged out. I felt bad about a mostly tv day, but Momma wasn't feeling up to anything more. While the kids were napping, I did pull it together enough to bake Ethan a "gingerbread cake" which he's been asking about for weeks. I'm not sure where he heard about gingerbread cake and how he knows he likes it, but we'll see :) I used this fantastic recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, "How to Be A Domestic Goddess". Then I started dinner for tomorrow. That's right... this recipe cooks for a full 24 hours. I've made it many times and each time it tastes a little different and each time its delish.

Slow-Roasted Aromatic Shoulder of Pork

I first got the idea of cooking a shoulder of pork over 24 hours like this from the second River Café Cookbook. My take on it is really a de-Italianized version. Any mixture of herbs or spices you want would do; this isn't a recipe so much as a suggestion.

  • 1 shoulder of pork (approximately 12-14 pounds), skin scored
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch length of fresh ginger
  • 2 fresh red chiles, or 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin)
  • 4 tablespoons sherry or rice vinegar

The pork takes 24 hours to cook, which is no cause for alarm because for about 23 hours and 55 minutes you are ignoring it absolutely. And it makes your house smell like a home should.

So, if you're planning to eat this for Sunday lunch, at about Saturday lunchtime, preheat your (clean) oven to the hottest it will go. Set the pork skin-side up on a rack over a roasting pan. I like to use a mortar and pestle to make my paste because it makes me feel good, but you could just grate the garlic and ginger (one of my beloved, and often mentioned, Microplane graters is the tool for the job) and stir in chile flakes, a tablespoonful of oil, and two of vinegar if you want. Otherwise, pound together the peeled chopped ginger and peeled cloves of garlic with the fresh chile, adding a tablespoonful of oil and two of vinegar when they're squished and paste-like.

Using your fingers, rub this paste over the scored skin, pushing bits into the cut lines of rind. Stagger across to the oven and put in the tray, leaving it for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, into the bowl in which you mixed the paste, pour the two remaining tablespoons each of oil and vinegar. When the pork's had its half an hour, remove it from the oven, turning it to 225°F as you do so. Now turn the pork over; I find it easiest to lift it by hand wearing oven mitts. It makes them dirty, okay, but there is the washing machine….

Pour the oil and vinegar over the underside (which is now uppermost on the rack) and put the pork back in the low oven, leaving it there for 23 hours. (Actually, you could leave it longer. One of the joys of this is that it cannot overcook.) Anyway, after 23 hours, or 30-40 minutes before you actually want to eat, turn the oven back to the highest it will go, remove the pork and turn it back, crackling side up. Put it back in the oven for 30 minutes, in which time it will get hot and crisp, though you can give it another 10 if you feel it needs it.

Remove, slice off the crackling in a horizontal swipe of the knife and break it into manageable pieces, then start carving or pulling at the tender meat.

Sunday we tried to go to the new Fred Meyer in Snohomish, but its expected opening of January 23 was obviously very optimistic. It looks like another good month at least. We did notice that a Kohls is going in there though, as well as what appears to be a Lowes or Home Depot. We'll never have to cross the trestle again... everything we need will be on "this" side!

We went down to the Silver Lake Fred Meyer instead and for the first time we left the kids in the Playland area. They LOVED it, and so did we. Quite handy. I was able to grab two sets of twin sheets on clearance for $13 each. That is a steal. We also picked up a very fancy looking espresso maker, but after running it multiple times, we decided its not for us. Overly complicated and the functions didn't work like we thought they should. So back it goes.

Oh! Today I created a star chart for Ethan and Gwen to help motivate them to stay in bed and not call us 1,000 times a night. I have to say that for the first time (nap today) it worked very well and they both got a star. Tonight will be the real test and I'm trying not to get overly hopeful, but I can't help but feel relief that this might just work :)

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