Summer Style Pork Roast

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This summer, I put together a four week long meal plan that we've been using more often than not. I tried to come up with recipes that were heavy on seasonal fruits and veggies, the use of the grill, and the meats I already have stored away in the freezer.

I have plans to tell you more about building your own plan, but for now, I've got to share this recipe that is PERFECT for summer before any more of it gets away from us!

When it's hot out we want to avoid heating up the kitchen. We want food that fills us up and yet feels more like a snack than a full on feast. I love putting a hunk of meat into the crock pot and deciding what to do with it later - you can shred it up and wrap it in a tortilla OR put it in a bun OR just serve it up with a few sides and you're good to go. The thing is...I've never actually used a recipe or turned out a PERFECTLY juicy roast. That is, until Tracy showed me the ropes.

I'm calling this summer style pork roast because that's exactly what it is. During the summer, I lean more towards pairing my pulled pork with BBQ sauce, buns, coleslaw, and beans. When the weather cools back down, I might heat up the oven to make  cornbread or I might change up the seasonings and turn on the stove top for mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and the whole Sunday Dinner style roast. 

It's summer and we know what we want! Let's get it cooking!

When one of your favorite food bloggers tells you this recipe begins with a rub...You listen up! Grilling has taught me that rubs can accomplish A LOT. This roast is no different. Make the rub.

Garlic and onions are two things I've ALWAYS paired with crock pot cooking. They're going to go in first. Big chunks are just fine, you won't be serving them up with the meat. 

Onion and garlic are in. The roast is rubbed. Take a moment to admire your work!

Here's the SECRET: MORE THAN 3/4 CUP OF LIQUID. For whatever reason, I've had it in my head that 3/4 cup is enough...It's not. I'm telling you, you'll be taking this roast out with tongs because it's going to be soooo tender that it will literally be falling apart. That's exactly what we're going for.

Up the liquid. You'll be glad you did!

Last but not least, diced tomatoes are going to add a lot to this dish! Diced tomatoes are something I've added to my pantry over the last year or so. I've only been using them for pizza sauce and now this roast, but that's enough to warrant having them on hand!

We put the lid on. Set the temperature to LOW and the timer for 6-8 hours. Then, we walk away and feel the freedom that comes with knowing that dinner is already going!

The roast comes out pretty and nice and ready for a million possibilities. Slice it or shred it. Eat it the way it is or dress it up with a favorite sauce. Serve it with fresh melon, your go-to salad, beans, rice...Whatever you're in the mood for!

Tracy says to save the stock you've created, but I'm a little unsure of what to do with it. I redenered off the fat and stuck the stock in the freezer. I'm thinking a mexican soup would be PERFECT, but I'm not sure if I can bring myself to add chicken to it. I'll keep you posted!

In the mean time...I've got a bit of the meat left over and it's going to be turned into pork fried rice tonight.

Summer Style Pulled Pork
slightly adapted from Tracy Benjamin

2 1/2lb pork roast
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
smidge of ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
3 c. chicken broth (more if you have a larger roast)

Combine salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, ground cumin, paprika, and garlic powder. Rub all sides of the meat with this rub.

Place the pieces of garlic and onion into the bottom of your crock pot. Set the roast on top of them. Pour the tomatoes and the chicken broth into the crock pot, avoiding the meat itself and making sure that everything is evenly distributed around your roast.

Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on LOW for 6 to 7 hours. (If your roast is larger, you may need to cook it longer. Tracy cooked her 4 lb. pork shoulder on HIGH for 8 hours.)

Take the roast out of the crock pot and process the meat however you want. Shredding it with two forks and topping it with BBQ sauce is my personal favorite. You can also skip the shredding and serve it in slices if that's more your style!

Skim the fat off of the cooled stock and use as a base for soups.

What's your summer cooking style?

What are you favorite ways to use a roast?


Monday, July 27, 2015

May 10, 2015

It's the last Monday in July and our life got turned upside down over the last few weeks. My dad is no longer a business owner (he sold it and we don't really know what's next). The camp that meant a week of vacation got cancelled at the last minute. Friends had car trouble and ended up spending a long weekend with us while they got it figured out (only they didn't and ended up borrowing another friend's car until this Friday - the story is long and full of God working everything out). So...God is doing all kinds of things and none of us really know what is going on!

In the midst of all of this, I'm making my way through Packer's "Keep In Step With The Spirit" and Paul's letter to the Galatians. It's what I call God's perfect timing. These books have been showing me what the Gospel is (and what it isn't) and teaching me more about the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's people. Packer puts it simply by saying that the Spirit exists to mediate the presence of Christ.

Christ told us to abide with Him and then He promised that when He left He would send the Spirit. Packer's words make total sense, but somehow, I've been walking around with allll the wrong ideas about this Spirit. It's strange how you can be walking with God for so long and yet miss something so major. Understanding the Spirit is going to change things...It's already changing things. Being AWARE of the presence of Christ and the very real ministry of the Spirit happening all around me is something I can't quite describe and I haven't even experienced to the full yet.

At that conference that changed it all back in 2006, Adam said, "Ignorance is miss, not bliss." And he was so right. My ignorance in this area has had me totally missing out on being aware of this piece of God's work in my life. BUT, no more!!!

My Mom has been listening to a sermon at the kitchen table this morning. The pastor opened with this question, "What voice would you like to tune into?"

And that is my question to myself and to you this morning...What voice would you like to tune into?

This summer I've learned that the Holy Spirit is the most important communicator in my life. He has been there comforting and leading and pleading on my behalf and mediating the presence of Christ. Up until now, I've been totally unaware of it all! Christian, do your soul a favor and think about the voices that you are tuned into. Join me in really tuning into the voice of the One that Christ has sent to His people to open their ears to His voice.

And then. Listen.

Ask & Answer pt. 5

Friday, July 24, 2015

May 11, 2015

On my last call for questions, my Mom sent along three of her own! Today's round of Ask & Answer is brought to you by those three questions from my Mom and one from me. I'd love to hear your answers, so be sure to leave me a comment with all four!!!

If you could go anywhere and eat anything...what would the scenery/atmosphere of your place of choice look like and what delicious morsels would be set before you?

I'm dreaming of all my favorite places, but I'm also feeling adventurous. I'm thinking I'd head straight for New Orleans (it's number one on my list of travel dreams right now)! I've got to try Beignets, a true Po' Boy, a little of their gazpacho, and whatever else Yelp or the locals told me was good. And then, I'd tell Joy the Baker I was coming and get her to teach me how to make a pie crust. I'm sure she's just waiting on me to call!

What is your favorite scent?

Meat loaf about 30 minutes into its bake time. Also, the first whiff of sea air when you get out of the car after the long drive to the beach. And last, but not least, a really good cologne. I have a few favorites, but I only know them by the wearer, not the actual name. 

What memory is triggered by your senses alone...and what is it?

My Grandma and Ghiddu's basement had a pleasant musty smell to it. It's been YEARS since I've set foot in that basement, but whenever I smell that smell, I go right back. I can practically hear Ghiddu coming up behind me to lead me on to whatever it was we went down there to get. And then there's Grandma, leaning over the railing to tell us to check the dryer while we're down there. It never gets old!

Give me a sense, any sense, and I show you how the root of that sense is a memory of Grandma and Ghiddu. (Said in my best Mr. Portokalos voice!)

What are the top three places you've never been that are in your travel dreams right now? 

The first three that come to mind are: New Orleans, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and St. Augustine. I've gone international and added the French Riviera even though I'm pretty sure I'll never make it there.

I can't wait to hear your answers! As always, if you have more questions, be sure to leave those in the comments or email them anytime.

Jayda Juice: A Recipe

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Last fall, my friend Jayda took a trip to the maritimes and she came back raving about some juice that she had while she was away. I waited ever so patiently for watermelon to come into season so that I could taste the combination that she had described.

This juice is so refreshing! The best part about it is that making it is a BREEZE.

With all of the smoothie and juice crazes going around, I need to say that what goes into this juice is an amount of fruit that I would feel comfortable putting onto my plate. I cringe when I see people put a whole produce drawer into their blender and then proceed to drink it all. I'm no health official, but I just don't think that can be good for one person. All that to say, we're going to end up with a nice glass of juice!

I told you this was going to be easy...Gather up your ingredients. We've got fresh watermelon, some frozen blueberries, a lime, and ground ginger. I'm sure your blueberries and ginger can be fresh, but I went with what I had on hand!

Next up, we just put everything into the Vitamix. 

In goes the watermelon.

Then the blueberries.

A little bit of fresh lime juice comes next.

Last, but not least, a bit of that ginger goes in. Tthen we put the lid on and blend it up. I let mine run until it was VERY smooth. I didn't want any chunks or pulp.

Pour it into a glass, top it off with a lime wedge, and take it outside to enjoy it while you can!

No fuss. No mess. I even left the board game in the background because I thought it was the perfect picture of summer.

Jayda Juice
serves 1

1 cup watermelon cubes
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice
scant 1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Put all ingredients into Vitamix. Blend for 30-40 seconds increasing speed gradually until you reach the highest speed (mine is 10). 

Pour (or strain) into a glass, top with a fresh lime wedge, and enjoy!!! 

Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suit your tastes. 

Jayda, thanks for inspiring me to try to recreate this juice!!! I don't know how close I came to the ACTUAL juice you had on vacation, but I sure enjoyed it! 

Have you ever recreated a dish or drink that you were served?

*I mentioned Vitamix in this post because it's a product that I use in my own kitchen. They are not aware of this post and did not sponsor it in any way.

A Saturday At The Library

Saturday, July 18, 2015

While we were out shopping in the city last Saturday, I asked if we could swing by the library before heading home. My Mom and I went in while everyone else decided to go get some food and make some stops of their own. This turn of events meant that we had as much time as we wanted.

The little bookshop where they sell used books for a song and a dance was open, so that was our first stop. I found a little book of short stories by Herman Melville right away. As we continued looking through the shelves, a lady came with another cart and left it by the entrance. I wandered over and almost immediately my eyes fixed on "Fitzgerald". I turned to make sure that these books were allowed to be sold and then snatched it right off the cart without a second thought. My Mom settled on a copy of "My Antonia" because we keep hearing about Willa Cather, but neither of us has read any of her books. 

With our new treasures in tow, we headed into the actual library. I went in with a list of books on my phone. My Mom sat right down at the computer to look for whatever books she had in mind. After browsing my way through the shelves and coming up with NOTHING (all the books on my list were checked out), I went back over to have her work her magic with the computer JUST IN CASE something was not shelved yet.

When we both realized that none of the books we had hoped to check out were available, we started browsing together. I pointed out books for her, she found random books that looked interesting, and then I was reminded of a the next book in a series that I had been saving for later. She went to look for something and came back with the newest book in another series that I got hooked on this spring.

We walked out with a stack of books. When we got into the van, we looked through the loot and one of the books in the pile was one I never noticed as we were checking out. I said, "This one looks REALLY good!" And she smiled and said, "I'm going to read it, but I got it for you."

I love my Mother! And I absolutely adore slow Saturdays at the library with all the time we need to weave our way through the shelves looking for the perfect stack of books.

What's your library strategy?

What's your go-to genre?