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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Pumpkin pancakes with apple maple syrup

Right now I am sitting in a coffee shop. Michael is sitting across from me doing work on a paper for Sweden. He’s a big deal. The couple at the table next to us is having a first date. Michael and I text back and forth about them. He has nice eyes. She’s a lot smaller than him. He was probably skinnier back in the day, but maybe he doesn’t have time to workout now that he has a 9-5 job. And HOLY SHIT WTF does that dude have a tail? Welcome to Broad Ripple. In order to make this afternoon more…cafe-like, I’m listening to Pink Martini on my phone. Some of their songs sound very Parisian cafe. All of them sound like they could be on the soundtrack of a black and white movie from the 40s. It’s making the ambiance less dude-with-a-tail-y. I feel fancy.

I love breakfast. Have I said that before? Making a pot of coffee, taking the time to cook eggs or pancakes or biscuits, making my plate look pretty before I set my fork to the food, and then sitting on the couch and eating at a relaxed speed without the pressure of having to run to work hanging over my head. I love drinking multiple mugs of coffee over a few hours, really taking in and enjoying the taste. Breakfast can really be a ritual.

I have two weekend breakfast stand-bys: eggs with runny yolks, poached in my new-old egg poaching pot from my grandparents house or fried eggs, or pancakes. I have a variety of pancakes in my weekend breakfast repertoire. The latest addition are these pumpkin pancakes. They’re filling and thick and made with whole-wheat flour, and full of autumn spices. And the apple maple syrup. Oh heaven. sautéed and cinnamoned apple slices briefly cooked in a dousing of maple syrup. This is the breakfast of autumn kings and queens. Or at least the exact breakfast I’d like to eat on a blustery November day. This recipe makes more than enough for one or two people for one meal. I still like to make the full recipe though, and put the extra batter in the refrigerator to use for a quick weekday breakfast.

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Day 4 – Sugar Scrub

Happy Day 4 of Creativity Saturday!

Not only was today creative, but it was damn productive, too. I bought supplies for three projects, rode my bike, and went to my first heated yoga class.

Today’s creative endeavor was inspired by someone else’s Day 1 creativity. 30 Days of Creativity asks participants to pin their creations on Pinterest every day. Scrolling through pins of blankets, photos, food, and art, I’ve been really amazed. People are so talented. So, someone posted a sugar scrub (you know, to use in the shower) and I got inspired. If I make my own health and beauty products then I know no icky chemicals go in them! Cool!

This body scrub uses mostly basic ingredients found in every house. You may not have the vitamin E or the essential oil, but honestly for how expensive a nice and chemical-free body scrub is, buying those two items is probably worth it. I found both at a local health food store (Good Earth for those of you who live in Indy). It also is entirely wonderful and works magic on the skin! I made this batch, hopped into the shower, and scrubbed up. My skin is incredibly soft. In fact, if I wasn’t so obsessive about moisturizer, I probably could’ve skipped the post-shower lotion all together!

Some tips before you get started. Sugar – you can use any type. I used a mix of white and brown sugars. Epsom salts – buy a bag because they have lots of uses! Apparently they draw toxins out of the body, relaxes muscles, and reduces swelling. Olive oil – you can use whatever type of oil you want (almond, olive, coconut, etc.) I went with a mix of olive and coconut. Vitamin E – very good for your skin! Essential oil – I went with orange. I think peppermint would be ahmahzing though. And this tip is IMPORTANT! DO NOT USE A GLASS JAR TO STORE YOUR SCRUB, despite what you see in my photo. This glass jar did not make it much longer after it was photographed. Did you know that water, which there’s a lot of in a shower, makes glass slippery? Please just use a plastic container. Mine is now in an old yogurt container.

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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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