Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Goal For Today

I'm going to get through a bunch of crapola today.  There's a boatload of paperwork on my desk and the chaos at Chez Y.O. is starting to get to me.

So here's the plan.

Touch everything only once.  Do what needs to be done with it and get it out of the pile.   No setting something aside for later.  No slipping it lower in the pile.  Just deal with it. 

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Photoless Day

It happens sometimes.  The camera battery is dead so today is all about imagination.

I would like you to close your eyes and imagine what my bathroom door looks like with a shiny round thing on it.  Oooo.  Doesn't that look pretty?  Don't you want to reach out and turn it?  After 13 years, I finally have a doorknob on my bathroom door.  I keep looking at and touching it and turning it.  It's like having a brand new toy to play with.  Of course the first night it was on I walked square into the door in the middle of the night.  Not having to turn a knob does have some benefits like not knocking yourself unconscious when you have to pee.

The kitchen is coming along swimmingly.  The walls have been replastered and sanded and are smooth as silk.  Today the paint goes on and the plan is to install the new floor on Monday.  For now we're just painting it white and will play with other paint colors later on.  I'm going to have to retire my recipe for paint chip souffle but that's probably a good thing.

I gotta tell you, it's a lot of fun having a handy man around the house.

The kitten is also coming along swimmingly.  She almost let me pet her last night and then freaked herself out and ran and sat under the rocking chair staring at me.  She will play with me as long as the toy is on a string (or is a string--she has a piece of pink yarn that she's in love with) and she'll sneak up on me when she thinks I'm asleep or not paying attention.  And she has conquered the mountain of tools that currently takes up the foyer.  She scales them like they're the Himalayas and then hides in the caves and jumps out at the other cats.  The other cats have been very patient with her.  Maxthecat is her special protector which is kind of cute.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who wants to let Justin Beiber know he has nothing to worry about?

Another talented musician dead at 27.





And now Winehouse

A real shame.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Random Day

1.  I'm not going to talk about the heat.  I'm not.  Because that would make it even hotter.

2.  We are currently under construction here at Chez Y.O.  The kitchen is finally getting scraped and painted and I am beside myself I'm so excited.  The rest of the house is chaos because of it but soon--very soon--it will no longer look like Pompeii.

3.  I finished the first of two Citron's--FINALLY--but that's another blog post.

4.  Have you ever eaten at The White Dog Cafe?  You should.  I had an amazing dinner their the other night with an amazing group of people.  They had us all set up at a big round table and I felt like I was at someone's house for a fabulous dinner party.  The lamb ragout is outstanding. 

5.  There's a kitten in my house.  She's hiding right now (see number 2) but is getting friendlier and friendlier every day.  As soon as she sits still for long enough, I'll get a photo.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bad Kitten's Rocking This One

I was going to post it on Bless Me Scott Munie but this song isn't embarrassing.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Honey, It's Time We Have a Talk About Pork Shoulder

I made pernil today.  Okay, technichally it was yesterday and today but since it was finished today, let's just go with that.

And it was good.

And I promised I would post the recipe.  It doesn't look very pretty when it's ready but it tastes delicious.

And there's nothing sadder than how it looks after some time on the buffet table.

And yes, for those of you with magnifying glasses, that is a little piece of tortilla chip in the middle of the bowl.  Apparently, someone (no names mentioned but you know who you are) thought it would be a good idea to eat it like dip.

I promised I would post the recipe so here it is.

Step 1—Pick out a nice pork shoulder (also often called picnic).  Look for a nice big bone and about half (or more) of it covered with skin.  I have found that if you go to a market that caters to a Hispanic consumer, you’ll get a better roast and a much better price.  This is generally a pretty cheap cut of meat and often goes on sale for as low as 79 or 89 cents a pound. Full retail is generally $1.59 a pound.  If they try to charge you more than that, call the Better Business Bureau.

Step 2—Score the skin at about 1 ½ inch intervals with the sharpest knife you have.  The skin is really tough.  Use your kitchen scissors if you need to.

Step 3—Make a wet rub. 
                1 cup sliced garlic  (Please don’t be silly and slice it yourself.  Buy a jar of sliced garlic and include some of the juice.)
                ¼ cup olive oil
                ¼ cup cider vinegar
                2 tablespoons dry rubbed sage
                1 teaspoon salt
                ½ teaspoon pepper (about 20 grinds)

Dump all of this into the food processor and let it run until you have a really disgusting looking greyish green mess (that's the sage).

Step 4—Put the pork in a bowl that just barely fits it.  Pour the wet rub over it and rib it in.  Roll it around.  Give it some love.  Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge until it’s almost bedtime.

Step 5—When you’re just about ready to go to bed, peel some onions and slice them about ½ inch thick.  I usually use one big red onion and one big yellow onion.   I can’t tell you how many onions your roast will need, you’ll have to use your own judgment here.    Lay the slices down on the bottom of your roasting pan in a platform big enough to hold your roast.

Step 6—Put the roast on the onions with the side with the most skin up.  Pour any leftover wet rub over the roast and then tightly cover your roasting pan with aluminum foil.  If your pan has a lid, put it on over the foil.  If it doesn’t have a lid, add a second layer of foil.  Turn your oven on to the lowest setting possible.  Mine has a warm setting and then starts at 220 degrees so warm is really 200.  Put the pan in the oven and  go to bed.   I use the warm setting.  (You may also want to make sure you have a good battery in your smoke detector but maybe I’m just a Nervous Nelly.)

Step 7—When you wake up in the morning, you can turn the temp up to 250.  Your house will smell amazing and, if you live in an apartment building, your neighbors will be banging on your door in their pajamas waving torches and clutching knives and forks.  Once the roast has been in for about 10 hours (11:30 bed time, 9:30 uncovering) take the pan out of the oven and remove the lid and the foil.  At this point it should be falling apart.  It will also look grey and gross and you will wonder what the hell you did wrong.  There will also be a lot of liquid in the pan.  Just keep following the directions.    Turn the heat up to 350 and return the uncovered (Naked! Shocking!) roast to the oven to crisp up the skin.   If you have a lot of skin on your roast, you can go as high as 425 with the temperature.

Step 8—After an hour the skin should be gorgeous and you are almost done.  If it takes a little bit longer, that's okay.  Take the roast out of the oven and put it back in that nice tight bowl that you marinated it in.  Pull out the bones and pull the skin off with your fingers.  It will be falling apart.  Use a fork to pull the meat apart (or really--you can just blow on it and it will collapse) and remove as much visible fat as you can.   The skin is actually really really good.  Use a fork to scrape the fat off the back and then tear up the skin and add it back to the meat.  Any skin that is too tough to tear is too tough to eat so throw it in the trash or give it to a really good dog to gnaw on.

Step 9—Last step!  Use a skimmer to pull the onions out of the liquid left in the pan and either eat them, add them to the meat or toss them.   Your choice.  I add them into the meat.  They melt.  Pour the liquid into a measuring cup and let it sit until the fat settles on the top.  Skim off as much fat as you can with a spoon then give it a good stir and pour it over the meat in the bowl. 
You can serve it warm, cold or room temp.  With rolls for sandwiches or rice and beans.  Or salad.  Or add it to black bean soup.    You can even just pop the bowl in the fridge and nibble on it at will.

The best part—it’s even better the next day!  If there's any left.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Inter-Dependence Day!

I'm creating a new holiday.  Hear ye, hear ye--from this day forward, on July 5th, the day after Independence Day, I plan to celebrate our inter-dependence.  Not sure if it should be hyphenated but that's how I'm branding it.  It'll be easier for Google to create a cool doodle if there's a hyphen.

Much like independence, inter-dependence is a tricky thing.  With independence comes responsibility and accountability.  In my work, I try to create an environment for people to move from dependency on social services to self sufficiency.  The hardest part about my job is working with people who have gotten over the hump but are trying to do everything themselves.  I use a lot of sentences like "You are going to have to manage your resources rather than having your resources manage you" and "the important thing about self sufficiency is the sufficiency part and realizing that your community is part of your self."  Bleh.  I've come realize that it's not about independence--it's about conscious inter-dependece.

I consider myself a very independent person.  But I really have no patience for dealing with any mechanical problems with my car.  Yes, I can change a tire and put on new windshield wipers.  But I don't want to.  I once had a mechanic almost faint on me when I told him that the car was making a noise but it went away when I turned the radio up.  It's just not my bag.

On the other hand, my dad loves to go hang out with the mechanic.  It makes him happy.  It makes me happy.  Pop has tea with Samthemechanic.  My car gets fixed.

And that's the thing about inter-dependence.  There is balance.  There is equity in the satisfaction of all the parties involved.

I think this may be one of those multi-post topics.  I probably shouldn't have started it until I had more clarity on it but, hell, it's my blog, I'll do whatever I want.  Lots of ideas about this are swirling through my head right now and I think that's a really good thing.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance

Bratty Girl is officially a high school graduate.  I still not sure what happened to the little baby who chattered away in her high chair and punctuated her gibberish with such expressive hand gestures but am so in love with the beautiful young woman that she has become.

Graduation was supposed to be outside but brutal thunderstorms forced the celebration into the school.  Which meant two tickets (and two tickets only) for the auditorium and bleacher seats in the gym with a video feed for the rest of us.  Which was fine with me because I could knit. 

Surprisingly, the video feed worked really really well and the mood in the gym was so celebratory I felt like I was at a huge party.  And, I swear, when the graduates walked past the camera into the auditorium, she was looking right at me.

This is what it looks like when you get your diploma on a big screen.

You'll have to take my word for it that she is gorgeous.  And the speeches were all really, really good.  I usually say the speeches are good because it's important to encourage young people but, for real, these were great speeches.

And the cutest little girl was sitting on the bleachers with me.  She was intrigued with my knitting, and it took her while but she finally got up the nerve to wiggle over and ask what I was doing.  Of course I showed her.  Then she asked if it was my job to knit things and, as much as I would have loved to have said yes, I had to be truthful and tell her I did it for fun.

She was so sweet and so friendly that I had to break off a length of yarn and make a little chain stitch bracelet with her.  She was just so sweet.  Very much like Bratty Girl at that age. 

The only downside of the day was my poor mother landing herself in the hospital for a few days.  Turned out that everything was okay but I do hate those phone calls at dawn. 

There was a young man in this cool t-shirt sitting in the folding chairs in front of me.

"What we do in life, echoes in eternity."  Words to live by I think.