The Pig Roast and Pulled Pork

When I wrote my profile for this blog 6 months ago, it seemed intuitive to include my adoration of pork, and I have realized quite quickly in the last 6 months that I am not at all alone in this adoration. The size of the crowd that gathers for a pig party is one piece of evidence of this. The amount of writers dedicating their pen to the likes of the pig is another. A recent article in Slate provided a sharp reflection on this point - why these hoards of pig-adoring individuals exist. 

I admit... it's weird. Ridiculous even. 
But now is not the time for lengthy reflections on the subject of swine. Now is the time to talk about last night's ridiculously happy Pig Party. Its timing seems to symbolize the end of summer... the peaches are almost over. The apples have begun. Yesterday was sunny. Today was cloudy, cool, and my morning walk had a breeze that could only mean one thing - it is autumn. 

The celebrated pig sat in a brine of water, salt and herbs until Friday night when it was placed on a Traeger grill. Slow & Low is the theme of this technique.

An enthusiastic group of marimba players graced the party with their rhythmic presence... Neighbors of the hosts, Janan & Levi, are not only the makers of the instrument, but also the teachers. So an eclectic group of teachers and students joyously played throughout the evening. What is it about marimbas that just makes me cry a just little bit? Well they do.


Pig Butchering and Peach Pie

Everything has an end
Except sausage. 
It has two ends. 
- Low German Saying

It's true, the tradition of community pig butchering seems to be long gone. I've read and heard much about the Mennonite customs around butchering, called Pig Butchering Bees, but they're all told as relics of the past.  A "remember when..." if you will.

Perhaps our urban living insulates us from such ritual. Perhaps the presence of technology, the convenience of modern food, or the efficiency of slaughterhouses make the tedious labor of butchering a moot point. 

But then again... perhaps the point is not to be totally mooted. Just yesterday I participated in an annual event, hosted by Janan Markee and Levi Cole, that is: First - Butchering Bee. Second - Pig Roast. The events are in part for Levi's birthday, but its focus seems to really be on keeping ritual in our foodways. 

The pig. Photo by Levi Cole
The wonderful hosts

This event is intense in its ebbs and flows...


The Chefs Studio and the Concept of "Place"

How does one create a sense of place?
How does one give soul to what otherwise is simply a location?
One can learn quite a bit on this topic of "place" upon entering The Chefs Studio – the small one-room cooking school in SE Portland that acts as the canvas of Robert Reynolds. It's where this cookbook idea is taking shape. It's where I attended last winter and where I've returned to now. 

Robert - Moving quickly, Smiling often

Robert has most definitely created a place at The Chefs Studio. How is it so? 
For me it is the fact that someone from the neighboring restaurant, Ken’s, often brings over loaves of bread for us, and that Robert routinely raids their kitchen for ingredients we are missing. 
Last night: anchovies.
Last week: salad greens.
There is a symbiotic culinary community happening here. 


Elise's Food (and Farm) Story, Part 2: Lemon Basil Chicken

Thanks to Elise Hofer Derstine for sharing her story and talents in the last post! A second Bravo should be handed to her for the Lemon Basil Chicken recipe that follows… Simple in its design, elegant to the eye, singing of summer, and like all good chicken dinners -- has you writing poetry and researching chicken ladies. Obviously.

Elise's pastured hens at Blue Heron Farms  
Elise feeding said hens

As for me lately... This has definitely (and without my meaning to make it so) become a year of travel. After my friend's wedding in Illinois (the one with the whoopie pie table!), I had the pleasure of spending a week at Martha’s Vineyard, that idyllic little island that Massachusetts lays claim to. It was as delicious as I could imagine... Small farm stands lining the windy roads with their delicacies of the season: Raw milk, berries,, peaches, tomatoes, homemade yogurt and cheese, pies, sweet corn, and on and on. And that’s not even mentioning the fish.
Cheers to you dear Martha.

Raspberry picking at Mermaid Farm... Twas the prettiest necklace I've ever worn
These later donned a Peach Berry Cake for our dessert
Milk from Grey Barn Farm

At the fish market, I picked up edibleVineyards magazine and immediately became entranced by an article about Nancy Luce, an eccentric woman who lived and died on the Vineyard in the 1800s. Nancy became famous for two things…
1. Her love of her chickens.
2. Her poetry about her love of her chickens.

Nancy Luce and her beloveds