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.
Don't lie... You just shed a couple tears just seeing them didn't you?
Eventually it's time to feed ourselves (and the masses) the pork we've all been patiently waiting for. Guy from The Farm Cafe prepares the tools by which the meat is swept off the pig.
Of course I naturally found an apron (luckily it didn't clash with my vintage dress), a knife, and a brief lesson in the cutting of pork off a hot pig. It ends up you just start cutting. And then people just start eating.
I would be keeping things from you if I didn't tell you... I was the first woman at this annual event to be cutting up the pig. Is this a silly thing to mention with no real significance to the world? Absolutely. Did it make me just a wee bit satisfied to morph this male ritual? Well... Absolutely.
This is what I love about working with food - its tangibility, its sensuousness - does not allow you to disconnect from the practice. There is a knife in your hand. A smell of smoked pork wafting and swirling around you. Juices and fat running down your forearms. Meat that is hot to the touch. The sound of marimbas, the chatter of friends, and a banter between those wielding the knives.
Perhaps you sneak in a bite between the cuts.... And perhaps in that bite all the work makes sense. It's in those bites that I get that sensation of endorphins popping in my head and smacking against the top of skull. It is glorious and rare, usually occurring with chocolate, zwieback, and of course - good pork.
As I promised, I have a crock pot pulled pork recipe for you! I threw a pork shoulder in my crock pot the morning of the party in case there wasn't enough food. My good intentions had me taking photos of happy people munching on this dish, but after I delivered the heaping plate to the buffet line, went back to get my camera, and returned with said intentions... the plate was totally empty! So I'll let that speak for itself I suppose.
This was an incredibly large piece of meat... there was a marimba band to feed let me remind you. So I'll half the recipe. I adapted this from the Mennonite-toned Fix-It and Forget-It book, one that my grandmother gave me for Christmas. Thanks Grandma! Its flavors speak of the fact that fall has set in and has begun to make its home here.
After last night's festivities, I think I finally feel ready for that...
Pork and Yams in a Crockpot
Adapted from Fix-It and Forget-It 5 Ingredient Favorites by Phyllis Pellman Good
Recipe submitted by Vera F. Schmucker from Goshen, Indiana
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: I recommend 9 hours.
2.5 lb pork shoulder
Salt and pepper
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup apple cider
3 Tablespoons whiskey (optional)
1 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 yams or sweet potatoes, cut in large chunks
3 onions, cut in quarters
1. Rub meat with a generous bit of salt and pepper. Place this in bottom of your slow cooker.
2. Arrange yams and onions over top of the pork. Add cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
3. In a bowl, combine brown sugar, apple cider, and whiskey and stir well. Pour this mixture into slow cooker.
4. Cook on High for 30 to 60 minutes and then on Low for about 8 hours, or until meat and vegetables are tender.
5. Serve with your preferred accoutrements - corn, slaw, buns.