I couldn’t have been happier with the SCOTUS news yesterday.
I could write for days on the politics behind LGBTQ discrimination and how it angers me — but I’m not going to. This is such a happy day, and such a huge step in the right direction. I was raised in a household that didn’t give a fuck about race or sexual orientation. There are lesbians and gays in my family tree, and it has never been a big deal to be gay or have gay friends in my family. It’s just thrilling for me to see these people start to get the human treatment that they deserve, that they were so inexplicably denied in the first place.
I’m so excited now that my nieces and my nephews and the kids of all my friends will grow up in this new kind of world. I’m excited that they’ll grow up in a world where sexual orientation isn’t a big deal, where it’s just another check box on a census poll, when it’s just another section kids learn about in history class thinking, “wow, people actually behaved like that?”
Or, at least that’s the kind of world I’m hoping for. Maybe things will change in Australia in the next few years. *fingers crossed*
Father’s day isn’t for another few months here, but it’s already happening in the States. And since my dad is there and not here, I’ll go ahead and do my Father’s Day post early. Not that I need a holiday to celebrate the most righteous dude in my life.
My dad. Big Larry. LT. Pop Pop.
My dad is a relic of the good ol’ days of America. He was born and raised in the mid-west by a concert pianist and a civil agricultural engineer, and learned to live modestly, value education, love music, and to always work hard and sacrifice when necessary. In another life, my dad would have been a sheep farmer, driving a tractor on his land and wearing overalls, or a college professor with suede patches on his elbows and a thermos full of black coffee. But he ended up being a major in the US Army, working with the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security, and a bunch of other top secret world traveling “You Don’t Have Top Secret Clearance So You Can’t Know About It” stuff.
He’s the quintessential “dad.” He always knows the answer to any question I have, and any sub question after that. In fact, some of my best memories with my dad are the long drives back and forth from the barn when I was little, listening to his lectures as I asked questions. He can fix any broken toy, grow any plant, make any piece of furniture, fix almost any faulty car part, and pre-GPS days, could always pin point my whereabouts and get me where I needed to be as I wailed in anger through my cell phone. He’d always fall for the “But mom said it was ok!” line. He’s the first person anyone asks when they need help with something. He has like, 6 Master’s Degrees. He has always driven with a coffee cup (not a travel cup) filled with steaming hot coffee and has never spilled — even when driving stick shift and reversing. He can load a moving truck like it’s Tetris, and with almost no training, he’s become a professional landscaper.
When I’m on my game, my dad and I make a good team: we’re both hyper-focused, highly creative, and super dedicated, which came in handy since he was always very good at indulging whatever ridiculous building project I had in mind. I always try to apply the “measure twice cut once” rule he taught me, but let’s be real: I got all the impulsiveness that was bred out of him through generations of patient farm work. But I think my initial “Hey–I can make that!” home project ideas comes from his engineer genes. Unfortuantely, we’re also both absent minded professors and are ridiculously clumsy. We are king and queen of losing things we’ve just put down 5 minutes ago, accidentally washing a load of laundry without soap, or tripping over air and knocking our heads into things (although I blame that on us being so freaking tall that gravity confuses us).
I never realized how much my dad sacrificed for us until I read his promotion orders when he finally made major. I read that he had been up for many jobs that would have gotten him promoted sooner, but he declined the positions because it would have meant moving, and that would have meant pulling Josh from his orthodontics program, and all of us out of school. My parents knew how hard it was on Shayne to move and start at a different high school, so they wanted to avoid it with us. As a result, my dad took different jobs in order to stay on the same military base for nearly 10 years so us kids could finish school. And my dad got overlooked for major as a result. But he did it for us. I can’t think of any other military dad who would have taken path.
My dad is amazing. He’s selfless, encouraging, loving, and fiercely loyal. He’s given me such a profound example of fatherhood, just by being there. And my heart swells when I think of how proud I am of him and how much I love him.
And seriously, no one has ever rocked a pair of overalls in Washington DC quite like my Oklahoma born dad:
Thank you, dad, for always being there. Thank you for giving me an example of what a father should be. Thank you for helping me with my bags every time I’ve moved. Thank you for valiant attempts at teaching me math. Thank you for making me drive in rush hour traffic on I-395 when I’d only had my driver’s permit for 24 hours. And thank you for overlooking how many seasons of 16 & Pregnant I’ve bought on your Amazon Prime.
The pork tenderloin variety, not of the paid adult programming variety.
When it comes to cooking, I have a tendency to run before I can crawl, which is probably a response to years and years of being too scared to make anything more challenging than a grilled cheese. But, I’ve been pushing myself in the kitchen this year, and more often than not, the results are delicious, and my kitchen hasn’t been lit on fire. Even if I did leave the oven on all night that one time*.
So one day at work, I found a recipe for Crispy Roast Pork amidst some content work for one of our websites. And I remembered how delicious pork crackling was that time Joel’s dad made it.
Salt roasted pork is basically a heart attack. The fatty top slab of the pork is rubbed with coarse salt, and then blasted with high heat to crisp the fatty skin, and then roasted for about an hour to make the bottom juicy while the top gets crispier. The desired effect is a top fatty crust that sounds like it “crackles” and shatters as you bite into it. Hence, pork “crackle.” It’s typically served with a pork belly, but I can’t handle the squishy texture of the belly meat. But, the salty crackle combined with juicy pork meat is to die for. What I researched told me that a pork shoulder is better to use if you can’t use belly, but I’ve never cooked a pork shoulder without a slow-cooker. But I’ve made roast tenderloin before and it was amazing. So I went with what I knew.
I rushed to Google, who confirmed kinda weakly that tenderloin skin can crisp up with the best of them, if that’s all you’ve got. And all it took to make the dish was salt, a roasting pan, and an oven capable of reaching 240*C.
I HAD ALL THOSE THINGS.
So, riding this wave of kitchen successes, I Googled some more until I found a credible recipe that didn’t involve bean curd marinade, and I set off to the butcher. One of the great things about living here is that I’m never too far away from an independent butcher or an self-stocked local farmer fruit stand. In face, I pass by both when I’m going by either the grocery store near work, or the grocery store near home. The reason I don’t stop there is pure laziness. Neither place takes debit cards, and most days I’ll be damned if I have to make one more stop than I have to, so I’ll go where I can get everything all at once. It’s a shitty habit, I know, especially considering the food quality is so much better at the independent stands.
But, I digress.
The butcher, near my office is an older guy named Bill, dressed in a white chef’s shirt and who talks like butchers from the b&w era. He was incredibly friendly and informative, and told me to come back after work because he was waiting for a “pork delivery.” When I came back, he had cut and scored a piece of tenderloin specifically for my needs. He even gave me tips on how to cook it, and threw in some scrap pieces on the house. As I was paying for it, he insisted I come back on Monday to tell him how it went. I was a little overwhelmed by his friendliness, and for a moment he made me think I was living down south in the mountains again, where friendliness with strangers is a daily occurrence. But I walked away thinking, if that’s how nice grocery shopping can be, then I’ll definitely be coming back. Maybe he can make me some American-style cuts of bacon…
Oh my god. I’m going back tomorrow.
So I bring the pork home, and it’s beautiful. And there’s no weird pork smell that I’ve noticed with grocery store pork. I rubbed it dry, massaged it with a bit of olive oil and salt, sang to it, had a photo shoot with it, rubbed it some more, and then put it to bed in the fridge so the fat rind could soak up all the salt.
The next night, I took it out of the fridge and rubbed it again, coaxed it again, and salted it again. Joel cut up onions and apples, and we layered them in the bottom of the pan before putting the roasting rack with ol’Salty on top.
Then we shoved the roasting pan in the oven–literally, it almost didn’t fit and I would have cried–and proceeded to wait over an hour while it roasted.
Here’s where we didn’t plan. We were slugging about all day, and we had a big breakfast so we weren’t particularly hungry for lunch, and therefore, lunch was skipped. And we weren’t hungry until the roast had 30 mins to go. And without knowing, we got hangry. And there were no snacks, at all. Except for a bag of candy that Joel found, which we inhaled. And then we inhaled the rest of the peanut better cookie bits. And then there was only 12 minutes left on the roast, and I wasn’t nearly as hungry. And I was all daaaaamn.
By the time we sat down to eat, I wasn’t hungry. I had filled up on last minute sugar impulse. I wasted $35 of pork for Starburst Jellies and week old peanut butter cookies.
That kinda coloured the rest of the meal. The pork was tender and tasted like a tenderloin, but the crackle was too much on chewy and too short on crackle. But, I blame myself. It probably would have been mind blowing if I had had an appetite.
I felt really guilty and shitty about it, like I ruined the meal. Because I did. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve done it. One day. One day I’ll learn the valuable lesson of “no sweets before dinner.”
The next day, I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the pork. Mom suggested simmering it in BBQ sauce and shredding it, and I was all “why didn’t I think of that!” I simmered it in a combo of BBQ suave and yellow mustard until the meat became tender. Because it was tenderloin, it didn’t shred very well, but I was able to cut it up pretty small, and I served it over mashed potatoes, and topped it all with roasted corn and tomato relish.
It was BBQ mash just slopped into a bowl, it looked like hot sick, and honestly, it was so much better than the meal I was excited for a whole week to make. And it made Patton Oswalt proud. Go figure.
My take aways from my weekend in pork?
Always eat lunch or snack through out the day when you know dinner will take 1.5 hours to cook.
Don’t turn Hoover on sugar and chemicals when you’ve spent heaps on dinner.
Pork tastes better with a marinade. Or when roasted over a bed of onion, apple, and some chicken broth.
Aluminium foil lining the roasting tray didn’t make clean up a snap.
Butcher meat is the best meat.
Onward to the next meat adventure!
*jokes. One of us knocked the dial by accident and noticed a few minutes later. The oven wasn’t even warm.
I woke up last Saturday with a sore throat and body aches, thinking aw fuck. Because of course, if I’m going to get sick, it’s going to be on the next to last day of my stay-cation, and not on the first day. And it didn’t get any better by Sunday. So I went to my first day at my new job feeling like garbage. And as the week progressed, so did the amount of times I blew my nose (more like caught my nose explosion in a tissue) or excused myself from meetings so I could have a coughing fit or fielded “wow, are you feeling ok?” questions. I saw a doctor on Thursday, who excused me from work on Friday, which happened to be the Friday before a 3 day weekend.
I emailed my doctor’s excuse to my new manger and promised her that I wasn’t just trying to get a 4 day weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more anxiety about calling out before.
So yeah, my first week of work wasn’t as awesome as I wanted it to be, primarily because of the throat and double ear infections in a cold building. And there are the typical first month stumblings of learning a new organization, new terms and lingo, new styles, new phones, new offices, new WHAT WILL I WEAR anxiety attacks in the morning. I also blame how perfectly awesome my week long stay-cation was. I had a really good time at home, but the single digits in my bank account are reminding me that it’s good to work.
I spent all of Friday literally balled up under 2 blankets, a jumper and a beanie, watching TV and knitting and waiting for medicine to take effect. And except for a brief jaunt to the grocery store on Saturday morning, I haven’t left the “resting” position. So all that, plus being on antibiotics for the last 3 days, my throat is very close to being back to normal, and besides a horrifyingly painful 2 hours when my ears wouldn’t pop yesterday (the trick that finally made them pop was chugging a glass of water with my head held back as far as possible), my ears feel better. So I’m taking today to prepare for this to be an awesome week at work.
All was not lost! On my second mini-holiday, I finished my scarf, hated it, took it apart, and taught myself to purl; vaccumed and laundry’d; made peanut butter cookies and a batch of potato, leek, and bacon soup; and finished Downton Abbey (am I the only one who found the season finale a bit of a snore?) /domestic flex
And I’m planning on making cheeseburgers this week. Because I can’t tell you how badly I’ve been craving a delicious, greasy cheeseburger with a side of extra crispy fries. We need to get a small grill for the balcony. Burgers just taste better when they’re made with FIRE.