North Carolina Pulled Pork

I’m always looking for ways to pretend I’m a true southerner. Pulled pork is a thing, like a Thing, in North Carolina. People say there’s a difference between eastern and western NC barbecue—eastern being vinegar-based and western being ketchup-based. I don’t love overly-saucy and sweet barbecue, so I suppose that makes me a fan of the eastern type.

In my head pulled pork is a summer food that you make for barbecues on sweltering sunny days. You pile the sweet, tangy pork onto buns and eat with a side of coleslaw and a cold beer. Last summer, I did just that. But this pulled pork is made in the crock pot, which, in my opinion, is a decidedly cool-weather cookware. So I say make this all year round. Eat it on buns, straight up on a plate, with a side of collard greens (because that’s how they’d do it in North Carolina guys!) or roasted squash.

This pulled pork does have some ketchup in it, but it not sauce-drenched. It takes a little thinking and planning ahead, but not a whole lot of hands on work. My timeline went like this:

– buy pork at farmer’s market on Saturday
– leave pork out on counter to thaw until Sunday morning
– wake up Sunday to cat and dog scuffling over raw pork butt on kitchen floor, after cat has jumped up on counter and knocked pork to the floor (no cat eyeballs were harmed in the making of this pulled pork)
– rub spice mix onto pork Sunday night, put pork in refrigerator overnight
– make sauce Sunday night and store in jar in refrigerator
– put pork and half of sauce in slow cooker Monday morning and let cook (aka let house fill with tantalizing smells)

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Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Bread/IheartNC

Oh my goodness. I always forget how entirely exhausting the holidays are. I get excited every year for baking, presents, family, and friends being home. And then I get caught up in this whirlwind of…baking, presents, family, and friends being home. It’s not a bad whirlwind at all. I mean, who am I to complain when I get to host a sleepover for eight lovely ladies at my house and paint our nails and make friendship bracelets?

I’m awfully lucky to be friends with these beautiful girls.

And why would I complain when I got to spend Christmas with my little family? Especially when they threw down in a huge way to put this under the tree for me!

Hello lover, we will be very good friends, I just know it.

Right before the holiday rush began, I up and went to North Carolina to visit one of my best friends in the world Bette. But I may have screeched about that on here earlier…

I don’t know if you have a place like North Carolina is for me, so maybe you won’t quite get what I’m about to say. But when I go down there, it feels just like I’m home, not like I’m on vacation. It’s like I’m just picking right back up in my other life, right where I left off last time I was there. It just…fits. So it’s no wonder that’s where I ran the second I needed to clear my head. And let me tell you, North Carolina never fails. Head? Cleared.

We spent most of our time in Charlotte, and one of our good friends from Raleigh even drove down to hang out! But, we also went up to camp. Talk about places where you just fit. We had lunch with old friends who are practically family in my mind. They care so much it blew my mind. Then of course the fact that people can care so little also blows my mind.

Anyway, Bette and I met at camp in the summer of 1995.

Some of the horses that we rode that summer we met are still there. We snapped some pictures with them.

Did you survive Christmas? Are you looking forward to New Year’s Eve? Is your belly so full of holiday food you may pop? Mine is!

Meanwhile, back at the Indianapolis ranch, a good month ago, I made some kickass quick bread. Cranberry orange cornmeal bread. I am BEGGING you to run to the grocery store right now and snatch up the last bags of cranberries you can find before the disappear. Please. I’ve become obsessed with cranberries this winter. They’re so deliciously tart and brightly, festively red. And they work so well with oranges, which are also in season during the winter.

So this bread is studded with cranberries, laced with orange flavor, and sweetened with cornmeal and honey. It’s just completely amazing. All day, every day, any time of day. Sadly, I took no pictures, but if you pop over to Joy the Baker’s site (link to her recipe to follow after the jump) you’ll see her photos, and I only made a few small changes.

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Song of the Week

Hi! Hi! Hi! I’m going to North Carolina today!!!! I’ll have been to North Carolina three times this year!!!

I just realized my keyboard is embarrassingly dirty. I’m so glad only my cat and dog can see it.

Anyway, I’ll be off reveling in the joys of Charlotte, one of my best friends in the world, the mountains, camp, and horses. This is a vacation to clear my head.

And this is a song for my weeks. Maybe for yours too. I have this friend Carol. She’s a freshman at Cornell. And despite the fact that she’s 8 years younger than me, she gets me in a pretty awesome way. She’s a very insightful girl. She posted this song on my wall on Facebook about a month and a half ago. I love her.

And right now I love this song. Noah and the Whale is a good band from the few songs I’ve heard. And this one, well, blue skies are definitely calling. I’m so ready for them. I’m so ready to leave this slightly crappy year behind. So listen to this song. I think it’s hopeful.

Chai Snickerdoodles

This recipe comes to you a bit out of order on my recipe list. In fact, I just made them this past weekend. But they’re so good that I cannot wait.

When I lived in Raleigh, I worked at a coffee shop called The Morning Times. Still probably the best coffee shop I’ve ever been in. Best Americanos I’ve ever had. We also made our own chai tea. It was a mixture of tea and spices, the one which I remember the most being ginger. I spent lots of time peeling and grating ginger for that tea, but it gave the end result such a nice bite.

These cookies are basically sugar cookies filled with all the spices that make chai tea so warm and autumn-y and delicious. They’d probably be really awesome with a cup of tea. They’d also be perfect for a holiday party. Not hard to make at all. I promise. And so festive and flavorful.

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Song of the Week

I have this AMAZING apple pie recipe to share with you guys, but today I can’t. This pie deserves to be written about with the same excitement and enthusiasm with which  it was eaten. And today I just do not posses any excitement or enthusiasm. Only a sense of weirdness and unfairness. So, I’m begging you to please stick with me with great anticipation for the apple pie, the one that will be gracing your Thanksgiving table this year. Instead I’m giving you a song of the week.

The National

I’m sorely behind on songs of the week. They’ve been more like songs of the month during September. I give you no excuses. Instead, as an apology, I give you The National. This is quite a gift I give you, and I hope you cherish it. The National is this super band with kind of a haunting sound. The lead singer, Matt Berninger, has a very unique, deep voice, almost calming in a weird way. I think I must have first heard these guys when I was working in the coffee shop in Raleigh. The manager had good taste in music and our playlists were always filled with the newest and coolest bands. When I moved home and met Adam, I was excited to find that two of his friends were also into The National. Lucky us, we’re going to see The National in concert on Saturday with those friends! I’ll try to take some pics or vids. (haha, see how I shorten things to be cool?)

So please, soak in fall with this band, and dream about apple pies.

The National, Secret Meeting

Song of the Week

Carolina, someday I’ll, one day I’ll come home. (Avett Brothers, Salina)

Last night Sam, Jen, and I went to a house party. We wanted to pretend we were nineteen again. We struck up a conversation with a girl who really was nineteen, and moving to Minneapolis. She said Asheville had been her second choice. Of course, I started blabbering about how wonderful Asheville is. She said, “That’s what everyone tells me, and you lit up the second I mentioned it, so it must be a great place.” Was I that insightful when I was nineteen? Doubtful. Unless you consider leaping down an entire flight of stairs insightful.

I like this song for more than the fact that it mentions Carolina. Something about running around the country trying to find Somewhere. I relate to that.

Oh, the song is Salina by the Avett Brothers. This is them performing it at Bonnaroo this past June.

North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and Renée, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

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