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Posts Tagged ‘great pork soup recipes’

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Back home and settling in after five days in San Jose. Each time I return to the Bay Area, even after living there off and on for twenty years, I find it harder to pick up the pace. Drivers on Bay Area freeways are fearless. Weaving in and out of lanes and traveling far above the speed limit. If you’re in the fast lane and going over 80 there will be five cars behind you nipping at your rear bumper as if you were standing still. People push and shove in store lines and generally don’t seem very happy to live in such a popular location. When we hit the bottom of the climb up the hill to our little piece of heaven my heart is always glad to find home a less crowded place to be.

My son recently sold his home in Campbell. For those of you familiar with the Silicon Valley area of Northern California, Campbell could best be described as an upper middle class bedroom community. To refine the description you could include it is home to EBAY and other technology based businesses, located in between Los Gatos and San Jose. A nice place to live by most standards, if congested for my taste. Shopping is a plus with Trader Joe’s in the Pruneyard, the high-end Santa Row shopping center within driving distance, and all manner of stores and restaurants close by. My son’s is a nice home, in a nice neighborhood of Campbell certainly, but not a spectacular home. If you asked him I’m sure he’d describe it in much the same manner. The single level home boasts three bedrooms, a small family room, a living room and a recently remodeled kitchen, in addition to two bathrooms. Listed as 1600 sq. ft. and change the pictures showed well tended yards of adequate size front and back with well manicured lawns with landscaping. Two weeks ago it sold in a bidding war between eight interested parties for well over $1,000,000.00. My mother frequently asks me why I won’t move back to the area. Housing would be the first reason I would site. Two bedroom apartments in the same location are renting on the lower end for around $2,700 a month. Never does it cease to amaze me that so many people can afford the ticket to ride.

Truth is even if the inflated prices fit into my budget, I would not choose to drive endlessly in parking lots searching for an open spot, move at a snail’s pace on the freeways at rush hour, and live butt to butt with my neighbor. Not my style. Silicon Valley does up the ante on what your net in your paycheck. I have to give it that. Salaries are high there and work, particularly for the technically gifted, is plentiful.

In my heart of hearts I guess I’m a bit of a country girl. I love the sound of the wind moving through tall grass, and the stark contrast of white clouds against a blue sky. For me less is more, to put it simply. As a kid I wanted to grow up on a farm. Of course I did not. My home base until nine was Halifax, Nova Scotia. Farming was a big part of life in the maritime provinces, but my life only touched it peripherally from time to time when visiting my uncle’s farm in Cape Breton or passing farms on visits about the province.

I have friends who shake their head when I talk of wide open spaces, preferring the quick pulse of the city and all that urban living offers. Don’t misunderstand me, I love to visit the big cities losing myself in the sea of humanity found there from time to time. There are downsides to living where we do. Shopping is limited, but the upside to this is that I spend less because there are fewer places to leave my money behind.

When in my early twenties I took a car trip across the U.S. with my first husband and two young children. Our trip began in Southern California and ended in Lynn, Massachusetts a year later. While driving through Colorado we decided to take a detour north through Wyoming. Looking back I wish I’d insisted on seeing Montana as well. I haven’t made it back that way since, but I still have chapters to write, so I believe I’ll add it to my bucket list. At the time we had friends living in Wyoming. Hearing of our odyssey they had invited us to stay as long as we’d like, which turned out to be several days. How impressive that area of the country is. Mountain ranges spring up out of nowhere, and the glorious rivers and lakes. Endless picture taking opportunities could be found around every bend in the road. Their house, well perhaps house would might have been considered a generous adjective, was a well used vacation trailer converted with the help of a welding torch into several living spaces. To the right of the trailer was a school bus colorfully decorated with flowers and peace signs which we were told was to be our quarters for the night. Free spirits drifting wherever the wind whisked us, I had gotten used to the notion the lady’s room was not always going to be attached to my sleeping quarters. The facilities in this case consisted of a wooden structure to the left of the pasture with the ubiquitous half moon carved over the rustic door signalling a toilet below. My friend instructed me on the intricacies of using the building. Basically sit and do what comes naturally. At the same time she cautioned me to take a flashlight with me at night if the calling came as the small structure occasionally had been called home by a black widow or two and even once had attracted a curious skunk. Interesting a skunk would display curiosity about such a place. Like tends to hang with like I would suppose.

Though the accommodations were perhaps less than posh, the surroundings made up for it by a thousand percent. Fields of tall grass glittered and glinted in the afternoon breeze the sea of green only broken up here and there with patches of yellow and purple wildflowers. Butterflies danced and frolicked between the buds, and huge pods of puffy clouds passed across the brilliant blue sky. Early summer when we arrived, a large area of tilled land towards the back had begun to show the results of early planting, green leaves poking up along the neatly furrowed rows. All in all it was a feast for the eyes. No wonder those among us with a yen for the solitary life set their sails in this direction.

The huge barbecue built by the owner provided most of their meals. A gifted hunter, Miles, our host had venison soaking in milk for dinner and golden ears of fresh corn peeked out of their husks next to red potatoes in the huge ceramic bowl in the kitchen. There was a colorful salad of fresh fruit, and homemade bread to go with our meal. We sat at the picnic table by a small creek zigzagging across the property and drank wine together under the stars when the children were tucked in bed for the night.

The light spilling out of the bus windows caught a snapshot of a passing gray fox carrying a rabbit in its mouth before I turned in for the night. Saying a silent prayer for the small bunny, I shut off the light and slept soundly in the stillness. I never forgot the sounds of the place, with no traffic, voices, or hustle and bustle to drown it out. The tinkling of water rushing over the smooth rocks, a bird whistling to its mate, wind rustling through the boughs of the tall trees. Natures music, I would suppose.

I had 2 cups of leftover Chili Verde Pork loin which I added to this soup. Absolutely delish and meal in itself. If you are using plain pork loin add a small can of diced chiles or use diced tomatoes with green chiles.

 Pork and Beans Soup with Tortilla Crisps

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups diced cooked pork loin* (chile verde if possible)
8 cups chicken broth
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/8 cup chopped Cilantro
Shredded Mexican blend cheese
Slice Avocado
Sour Cream
Lime wedges

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and peppers and cook 6 mins. until vegetables are tender. Add minced garlic and cook 1 min. Add pork and seasonings and cook and stir for 3 mins. Add remaining ingredients through pinto beans. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 mins. Stir in cilantro.

Serve with cheese, crisps, avocado slices, sour cream and lime wedges if desired.

Tortilla Crisps

4 corn tortillas
Olive oil
Salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Baste tortillas on both sides with oil. Using pizza cutter cut tortillas in strips. Place a piece of tin foil on cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray. Place strips on sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 mins. or until lightly browned.

If you are using plain pork loin add a small can of diced chiles or use diced tomatoes with green chiles.

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finalPresidential hopefuls for 2016 are beginning to crawl out from under the woodwork. Aside from the usual suit and tie variety, we’re seeing some hints about a female presence on Pennsylvania Avenue, and not just in the role of first lady. At a mixed gathering I attended recently this possibility was discussed at some length. It was interesting to see the reaction of some of the men in the group to the idea.  There were asides about emasculating the country and one gentlemen went so far as to say women were incapable of handling military matters and were better off tending to sharing recipes for bundt cakes and making babies.  Really? I had to defer to my calendar and confirm this was in fact 2014. Yup, no doubt about it. I managed to keep my lips zipped, but only because Rick was watching me nervously and poking me on occasion as he could see my lips beginning to move of their own volition.

Certainly this is not a new debate, and many changes have occurred surrounding it since it began. Feminine representation in Congress and women “manning” governor’s chairs in some of our biggest states. In particular, Ann Richards being the second of her gender to hold the office of governor in Texas. Sarah Palin comes to mind as well, putting Alaska in the news. Women have carried the big stick in other countries for centuries, not just in recent years. If you consider somewhere around 30 BC Cleopatra was controlling the reins of Egypt, the U.S. is sadly lagging behind in staffing up our highest office with the ladies. Personally I wouldn’t want the job, male or female.  I’ve seen the results of four years behind that desk, graying hair, constantly being rated and found lacking, a crisis before breakfast every morning. Thankfully, someone else seems to keep signing up and as my citizenship papers continue to say Canada, I don’t have much to say about the situation, although I’ll be changing that this year.

Historically men are the warriors and women the hunter gatherers, or something of that nature. Gathering definitely seems to be a female trait. My other half can stand with the refrigerator door open for an hour and never locate the ketchup on the shelf directly in front of him, while I can go to the fully stocked pantry five shelves deep and locate a box of toothpicks towards the back behind a family sized box of Cheerios. Why is that? No really, why is that?

One man in the group suggested we shouldn’t point out the differences between men and women, rather work in unity. Hmmmm. Like all forces in nature there is balance between the sexes as well, or so I believe. As I’ve discussed before you cannot appreciate light, unless you have experienced dark.  Happiness is all the richer once your rise above sadness. Yin and Yang, black and white, men and women. Tra la.

Certainly not an expert on the male of species, even after diving into the matrimonial troth four times, I can speak from my experience to the subject. From my perspective, there are definite differences in how we approach our feelings and express ourselves. This does not mean we can’t mesh with one another beautifully, but when we come together I believe it is with a different way of thinking.

My other half is quite fascinated that I can spend time “yacking”, as he refers to it, with my friends even though I may have spoken to them the day before.  “What an earth more could you have to say to one another?”, he’ll ask me. The friends I am speaking to have spouses who most probably wonder the same thing. As of this writing I have never cohabited with a man who spent an entire hour on a phone conversation with anyone, with the exception of possibly a family member in crisis or waiting for tech support. Women tend to discuss their problems simply for the need of airing them, rather than necessarily seeking a resolution. Female friends are often the ideal listening partners, as men seem to want to institute a solution and hope it involves far less conversation to get there. If you asked men, most probably many might say women have too much to say about most everything, and it is true we tend to be more garrulous by nature. In essence, our modus operandi when it comes to sharing our feelings in general comes from a different place. This is not to say one is better than the other by any means, but they are not the same.

It should be interesting to see what happens should a woman enter the White House and seat herself behind the desk in the oval office. I suppose the gentlemen I spoke with the other night would assume she might be better at dusting the desk than sitting behind it, but I beg to differ. Women are assuming leading roles in business all across the board. Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard, Rosalind Brewer, Sam’s Club, and Virginia Rometty of IBM all prime examples of female CEO’s in charge of running huge corporations. Our roles since my grandmother’s day, when women were largely at home raising the children and managing the house, have changed. Is this good or bad?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps there was a clarity to having defined roles missing now. As a male or a female we knew better what was expected from us when we signed on with the team. It’s more fuzzy now with one blurring somewhat into the other. Men are staying home while their wives enter the work force. Women eventually will assume combat roles in the military. Slowly business has caught up with the world around it and women are now getting paid nearly equal to their male counterparts for performing the same job.

Always, I think, we’ll remain different. Whether the man is home changing diapers or the woman working as a pipe fitter on an oil rig, still the differences remain. That, I think is a good thing. Perhaps if we were too alike there would be no attraction?

Ah, deep thoughts for a Sunday. This was absolutely delish soup, but spicy. If you prefer less heat, reduce the amount of chipotle pepper and use 2 can of diced tomatoes without the jalapenos.  As my Cajun friends in the south used to say, “if it don’t make you sweat, it ain’t worth eatin”. Perfect for Super Bowl.

Crockpot Spicy Pork Posole

3 Tbsp. Canola oil, divided
4 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ chunks and trimmed
salt and pepper
3 cups onion, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
4 tsp. oregano
4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. coriander
2 bay leaves
8 cups chicken broth
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with jalapenos (use 2 cans of diced tomatoes in juice if you don’t like heat)
1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 1/2 chipotle in adobo sauce, finely minced
1 Tbsp. adobo sauce
2 can white corn, drained
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cups cooked rice
Garnish with sliced avocado, radishes, lime, and chopped cilantro

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in large skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle pork liberally with salt and pepper. Brown pork in two batches on both sides. Remove from skillet and place in previously sprayed 6 quart Crockpot.

Add remaining Tbsp. of oil to skillet. Reduce heat to med. and saute onions and green pepper for 5 mins. Add garlic and continue cooking for 1 min. Pour over pork. Top with Brussel sprouts.

Mix remaining ingredients through adobo sauce together in large bowl. Pour over meat and vegetables. Cook on low for 9 hours. Add corn and continue cooking 1 hour. Add lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with avocado, radishes, lime, and chopped cilantro. Serve over 1/2 cup of rice.

Serves 8

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