Do you like to watch the Olympics? As a kid, my sisters and I loved to cheer on the athletes. One of my sisters had a huge crush on Mark Spitz, and hung the poster of him with all his gold medals adorning his neck on the wall of the bedroom we shared. I still remember my nervous excitement when Olga Korbut successfully completed the first ever blind backwards flip off the top bar of the uneven bars. As she swung around and reached for that bar, the crowd went wild! Even though she wasn't from my country, I remember being so excited for her ... someone I never met, someone from a different country, and someone with different customs.
Even as a little kid, I have always been fascinated with other cultures. Their customs, their languages, their cultures, their foods … everything! Perhaps it’s because I’m the daughter of an immigrant; perhaps I’m just a curious cat. Whatever the reason, my interest in other cultures remains at a high level even today. Never is this more apparent to me than in this blogsphere. Through the wonders of the internet, my world has expanded by keystrokes, and I’m able to see images and “talk” with people that I never would have met otherwise. I’m able to “visit” other communities and cultures, and learn how to prepare their foods, enjoy their stories, and ultimately spread a little bit of peace and harmony across the globe. Yeah, it sounds hokey but I stand by my belief. The internet makes my world a little bit smaller, a bit more friendly, and a whole lot more interesting!In honor of the Olympic games, my menu for the next several meals will tap into the cuisines of nations other than my own. Tonights culinary adventure celebrated the flavors of
I used the Carnitas recipe posted by Homesick Texan. I’ve made carnitas many times over the years, and her recipe was intriguing in that it was so simple to do. My old recipe, which is also very good, requires both on the stove and baking time. This recipe, was done on the stove and finished in less than two hours. The results were … well let’s put it this way, there was absolutely zero left. None. Nada. Not even a teeny weeny speck left. As I was dishing it out, my daughter kept saying to me, "Pile it on, Mom. Just keep piling it on!"
4 lbs pork shoulder/butt, cut into large chunks
2 cups water
1 cup orange juice (I used Orange Tangerine)
1 teaspoon salt
Sprinkle Garlic Powder
Isn't this a lovely hunk of meat? Check out that marbling. This is what a pork butt/shoulder looks like. So, start out with a gorgeous hunk of pork. Then get out your best knife, and slice it into large chunks ... approx. 4 x 2. In a large dutch oven, place all of the above ingredients. Turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil, uncovered.
Eweuuu! Doesn’t this look like it should contain eye of newt or something? Trust me it gets better. Once it boils, turn the heat down to a decent simmer, and simmer for 1 ½ - 2 hours, uncovered. I didn’t skim the “foam” that forms.The liquid will boil off, and the rendered fat will be left in the pan (lots of it). Once the liquid has boiled off, brown the meat in its own fat until all sides are browned. Once browned, remove from the pot. Shred or cut into bite sized pieces.No, no, no … don’t look at my finger print pattern. Check out that lovely little morsel held in my fingers. See all that browned goodness on the outside, and soft, tender heaven on the inside? That, my friends, spells flavor. Oh yeah, this is gold medal stuff for sure. 'Scuse me for a second while I devour this bite ... uh, I touched it ... it can't go back in the serving dish after I touched it. Oops, touched another piece. Oh man, Yuuummm!
These lovely veggies and fruits, transform into a bright Pico De Gallo –
2 red tomatoes (I used heirloom varieties)
1 yellow tomato
1 small cucumber – diced
1-1/2 Tablespoons onion – diced
2 radishes - sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from ½ lime
1/4 Jalepeno pepper
Combine all the ingredients. Season with sea salt to taste. Notice there is no garlic in this? The flavors stand up just fine without it. Try not to eat it by the spoonful.
How do you like your guacamole? Chunky? Creamy? A little of both, perhaps? This is just a basic recipe that I got from a lovely gal I used to work with. Her husband was from
2-3 ripe Haas avocados, peeled, pitted, and cubed
1 Tablespoon of chopped tomatoes
Dash of garlic powder
1 teaspoon diced onion
Juice from ½ lime
In a bowl, combine all the ingredients with a fork. I also added about a 1/4 teaspoon of minced jalepeno. Mash with a fork to your desired “chunkiness”.For another awesome pork taco recipe, check out For The Love Of Cooking's blog entry dated 08/08/08. (Don't you just love number anomalies? I'm into that kind of thing. Yeah, I like math.) Be prepared to drool on your screen because her recipe is killer.
So what “country” or “culture” should be represented next at my table? Tune in next time to see what gold medal performance will be making its way onto the blog!
Olympic Heart of Gold
Speaking of Gold Medal performances, my girl has a heart of gold. As gorgeous on the outside as she is on the inside, for the second time in two years, my daughter donated some of her stunningly beautiful long hair to “Locks of Love”. Locks of Love is a great organization that makes and donates wigs to children who’ve lost their hair due to illness.
Today my girl had 15” cut off her hair, and is now sporting a darling, sassy hairstyle. She told the stylist that her only criteria was that she still be able to put her hair up for when she plays sports. I think the stylist did a great job, and my girl did a good thing. She’s a true champ all the way.