Yesterday while in the market the youngish man bagging my groceries struck up a conversation with me about the weather. Isn’t it funny, how when in a social situation with a stranger many of us turn to weather as a safe topic to discuss. I would guess because when living in an area whether acquainted or not you share a common weather bond. Also, you’re not liable to get in any trouble discussing cloud coverage or the amount of rain on the ground.
Once we’d covered all the bases on the current weather, he went on to tell me he loathes winter. Fervently he expressed his existence is based only on spring and summer. Summer, being his true love with spring coming in as a close second being more of a friend with benefits. Trying to control my toes from popping up on end and forcing me to dance in a circle, I confessed my deep fondness for this time of year. The crunching of leaves (we hit the mother lode this year BTW with the drought), the glorious colors decorating the hills, pumpkin pies, spiced apple cider. Ahhhhhhhhh, but I could go on.
Thanksgiving is going to be a two party affair this year, Rick and myself. Thanksgiving for our family will be celebrated separately with members of our partners families or friends. To keep my lower lip from developing a tremble, I decided to make it a festive occasion with all the bells and whistles right down to the silver napkin rings and flickering candles on the table. Damn the torpedoes, and all.
Holidays, as families grow and spread out, become more difficult to orchestrate. When we all lived within a reasonable proximity of one another always a large compliment of family members occupied the folding chairs added to tables in the dining room. I miss that, but life changes and you must move with the current so I shall take my lemons and make lovely pot of lemonade.
Following a news story reporting as a nation we continue to grow (our waistlines not our population) and with the calorie laden holidays looming, I began an exercise program at a local gym. Inmates walking their last mile, have done so with more enthusiasm then I had opening the door and signing in yesterday morning. I have friends who tell me they love to exercise. Look forward to it even. I feel this is some sort of personal problem, likely requiring some serious time on a psychiatrists couch and deep probing to overcome. I would rather have a tooth extracted than spend an hour participating in a heavy exercise routine. However, since my body insists on getting older I have resigned myself to get it in shape no matter how much I would prefer not to do so.
Walking, my exercise of choice, is something I do look forward to every day. As excellent as walking is with regard to cardio it doesn’t work as effectively on strengthening your core or building muscle mass. See, I have been paying attention. The man who instructed me on the individual machines available at the gym I would estimate to have showed up about one decade down from mine. Slightly grey around the edges but still working full-time and in excellent shape. Never have I seen the front line people in gyms anything but perfectly cut looking back. I suppose you don’t hire people with pot bellies to encourage people to work out any more than you hire a kid with acne to promote skin cream.
I learned of this gym via their aggressive ad campaign. Every night for a month or so right around dinner time glorious hard bodies paraded across the screen just as I’d inserted a glorious bite of creamy scalloped potatoes into my mouth a telltale line of butter dribbling down my lip. Before and after pictures extolled the amazing results possible when you sweat off the inches at their facility for a low monthly cost. These types of ads seem to show up around mealtime along with ads for diarrhea cures, gas relief, and Viagra. Sometimes I wonder who writes the ads for television. Not to brag, but I believe my five year old grandson could outdo some of these ad writers. You wonder who is sitting in these board rooms approving some of this stuff? The recent ad campaign with Mathew McConaughey interests me. Whatever is it about? I remember him. He is difficult to forget. I know he’s in a car. However, if you asked me what car or why he was playing with his fingers I wouldn’t have a clue.
I rather enjoy some of the “homegrown” ads. The ones made by the owner of a company, members of his immediate family, his dogs and a Canon Sure-Shot. There’s one on our local station with a dad flying in a super hero cape featuring his children. At some point this ad will be viewed as embarrassing as these little boys mature, but for now I would guess it’s pretty cool to see their dad flying around even if he is advertising his skill at unplugging toilet clogs.
When still working full-time a large part of my job was to create ads for the company I represented. Making sure companies present the image they need to publicly in order to generate revenue is a big part of the company’s success. An ad campaign can make or break a company struggling to find their way, and hinder one already there. Look at the recent furor over Starbuck’s holiday cup. It is simply a bright red cup with the Starbuck’s logo in the center. Totally innocuous. Perhaps exactly why people were outraged this was how Starbuck’s chose to represent the holiday season. Personally, I think someone has too much time on their hands, but when seeing it up close I have to admit it isn’t particularly festive. I wouldn’t turn down a free latte however. A girl has her price.
Maybe this is another sign people want to be politically incorrect and shout MERRY CHRISTMAS instead of saying Happy Holidays. I’m just sayin’.
This pork is so tender and flavorful you’ll find yourself saying “esta comida esta buena” before you know it.
Slow Cooker Cuban Mojo Pork
1 3 1/2 lb. pork loin, trimmed
2 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
Salt and pepper to taste
Spray 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
Mix together paprika, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Rub all over pork. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet over med.- high heat. Brown roast well on all sides. Place roast in bottom of slow cooker. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil to same pan along with onions and garlic. Cook for 3-4 mins.
Mix together orange juice and lime juice. Deglaze pan with juice mixture, scraping bits from bottom of pan.
Sprinkle potatoes over roast. Pour pan contents over top. Cook for 9 hrs. on low.
Remove roast and potatoes from slow cooker. Pour liquid through fine mesh sieve and discard solids.
Add liquid to saucepan. Skim fat. Whisk together water and cornstarch. Whisk into liquid in saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and cook 5 mins. until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over meat and potatoes.