Crockpot Pork (aka Delicious Carnitas or Pulled Pork)

Not to toot my own horn or anything – ok, I will – my carnitas are famous (not globally, nor nationally but among my 4th of July camping buddies – or at least some of them).

The secret is slow cooking the pork in loads of garlic and a bit of wine. Then, frying it up with more salt than is necessary.

And the good thing about this recipe is that it can be turned into something totally different the next night (pulled pork).

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Crockpot Pork Carnitas
• 3-5 lb pork butt/shoulder
• 1 head of garlic, peeled and diced
• 2 TBSP salt
• 1 glass of white wine
• freshly ground pepper
• 1 TBSP ground cumin
• 1 bottle of your fav BBQ sauce (if you’re making pulled pork)

Liberally salt and pepper the shoulder and place in a frying pan to sear on all sides. Make sure your pan is hot. It should be a quick sear. And you’ll need your fan going for this one.

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While the pork is searing, put the garlic and 1 TBSP of salt in a matter and pestle and grind it into a paste.

Put the seared pork in your crockpot. Rub the garlic paste on the top and sides of the pork. Pour the glass of wine into the crockpot (not over the pork).

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Cook on low heat for 8 hours.

Now, you can refrigerate the pork and save it for later if you like.

Or, you can shred some or all of it and fry it up in a pan on med/high with a couple TBSP of the pork juices. Add the cumin and salt to taste (up to 1 TBSP depending on the amount of pork). Fry it until bits become crispy.

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Serve it with tortillas, beans, avocados, salsa and cilantro.

You can also shred the pork and heat it up with BBQ sauce. Put it between some buns and enjoy!

Let me know how famous you become after this one.

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Le Dried Pears

My family LOVES snacking. I know – snacking is good for our metabolism but these two could just snack all day and forego a proper meal. Luckily, they don’t. So, in addition to our balanced three meals, I try to make nutritious snacks that they can easily nosh.

We are blessed to have a pear tree that gives us abundant amounts of fruit every Fall. We’re in that season. Unfortunately, they ripen really fast. So to preserve them before they end up in compost, I’ve been running the dehydrator nonstop.

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Le Dried Pear Rings
• 10 pears
• 1 lemon
• 1 large bowl of water

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze it into the water. Peel the pears. I do them one at a time and then slice and core them. Put the rings into the lemon water so they don’t turn brown.

Set your dehydrator to 135 degrees and pack the rings in. Mine took about 24 hours to dry to an almost crispy state. But remember, times vary by climate so start checking your rings around the 20 hour mark.

Happy snacking!

Snappy Dill Pickles

My book club read “Cooked” by Michael Pollan. And while the reviews about the book were mixed, it did inspire me to get cooking again.

I had intended for us all to make pickles together – inspired by the “earth” section of the book. But too much rosé was consumed and we all ended up lounging in the sun instead. Not a bad alternative.

So, the next day, I made pickles. I had my first after 48 hours in the fridge and they are so satisfying! If you’d like to make more than 1 jar (I suggest that you do. I predict that they will be extremely popular.), just double, triple, quadruple or quintuple the recipe like I did.

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Snappy Dill Pickles
• 1 cup of water
• 3 TBS distilled white vinegar
• 2 tsp salt
• 4 stems of fresh dill
• a shake of whole black peppercorns
• a shake of red pepper flakes
• 1 big garlic clove, cut in thirds vertically
• 1 to 2 cucumbers
• 1 quart sized mason jar, sterilized

Wash the cucumbers. Slice them into spears – vertically into fourths. Mine were too tall for the mason jar so I also cut them in half. Pack them into the jar. Make sure there’s at least 2″ space between the cucumbers and the top of the jar. And make sure they’re packed in there tightly.

In a separate bowl mix the water, vinegar and salt until the salt is dissolved.

Add the water mixture into the mason jar. Make sure the water is at least 1″ above the cucumbers. Add in the garlic, dill, peppercorns and flakes.

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Seal up the jar and put it in the fridge for 48 hours. Pop open the jar and get snappin!

Enjoy!!

Tomato canning season – get help!

Its super exciting to get 24lbs of ripe tomatoes still smelling of sunshine. And the thought of bottling Summer in jars to unlock in the dead of Winter is very motivating. So I plucked what fruit we had from the vines in the greenhouse and asked hubby to drive to mariquita farms nearest drop off for the brightest tomatoes I had seen all Summer.

Although its a full Sunday dedication – if you’re tackling it yourself like I did- it’s absolutely worth it. But it’s a lot of work and it doesn’t seem daunting until you’ve finished scoring all the tomatoes, blanched them and then peeled them and its 2 hours later and you still have to stew and then can. How’d that take that long anyway? Reminder to me for the next tomato canning sesh: get help!

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So 2 hours later, orange fingers and all, you make sure you deseed your ‘maters and the skins are off. Then plop them in a bit pot with some salt and a smudge of sugar. Then stew for 25-30 mins (that’s a light simmer).

Put 2TBS of fresh squeezed lemon juice in each sterilized quart sized jar and add the stewed tomatoes. Wipe the rims clean and seal them up. Then place the jars in a water bath and boil for 45 mins. Carefully take them out of the bath and let them cool. Check that they’re sealed (I had one not seal so I put it in the fridge for use that week). And then store for your Winter spaghetti sauce and the myriad of other uses.

Happy canning!

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Months later…it’s braising time

I’ve been off in neverland again and lost track of time. I’ve been cooking and taking photos but have completely neglected posting/archiving. And in the meantime, the season changes (or slight drop in temp here in CA) have inspired this deliciously comforting beer braised short ribs.

What makes it even better is the perfectly proportioned package (1.5 lb) for two from our local meat farmer – Markegard. It might be the slow cooking, knowing most of the farmers who raised the ingredients, the intoxicating aromas developing from the oven while it was cooking or the “mmmmmm”s from husband once it was done – the meal felt so nourishing and comforting like a gigantic hug from the inside out. Try it out on a Sunday like today and enjoy it throughout the week.

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Beer Braised Short Ribs
* 3 lbs. beef short ribs
* 5 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
* 2 carrots, sliced
* 2 celery stalks, sliced
* 1 tbsp. thyme, fresh is best
* 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
* 2 bottles of beer (I used a brown amber beer)
* 1 box carton of beef broth
* S&P
* olive oil

First, turn on your oven to 300 degrees.

Get out your dutch oven and heat up a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper your short ribs and sear them in the pot. Remove. Reduce the heat and add in the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme. Cook slowly until fragrant. Add in the mustard and stir it up until fragrant again. Then add in the beer and broth. Bring to a boil. Take off the heat, add the short ribs with the meat side down. Cover and pop in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours or until the meat melts at the sight of a fork.

If the sauce is still on the watery side after cooking, remove the ribs and put the pot on the stove to reduce the sauce until it at least coats the back of a spoon.

Serve with noodles or just a salad and some crusty French bread.

Enjoy!

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