Tag Archives: tacos

Slow Dance Perfection

The snow is melting.  The deck was warm enough for morning coffee.  Bleu chased his Frisbee with abandon.  The slow dance of spring has started.  I’m a turtle personality by nature.  I’ve always preferred slow to fast (except in cars!) and like the length and depth of things in general.  This applies to the transition of the seasons, as well as the time it takes to produce a meat that is tender and succulent.  Although I prefer slow-roasting in the oven during winter; you cannot beat the convenience of a slow-cooker. We even use it during the summer since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen.

There is something about pork shoulder that makes me salivate.  First of all, it’s versatile; change up the spices and you can pair it up with several cuisines.  My favorites are Cuban and Mexican.  The cut is affordable and you can locate quality milk-fed pork locally.  Karin Uebbing from Woodbridge Dairy Farm has pork shoulders that are a perfect size, running approximately 3 pounds each.  This assures me that the pigs aren’t ancient, and overly fatty. They fit perfectly into a average size slow-cooker and turn into something luscious after 8-10 hours on low.  Bring on the Margaritas!

Brickyard Farms Pork Carnitas With Avocado Lime Dressing:

Healthy milk-fed local pork

Healthy milk-fed local pork

  • 3-4 lbs milk-fed pork shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chile powder
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp green Tabasco sauce
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. Smear the bacon grease on the bottom of the slow-cooker.  Pour orange juice over pork. Combine sea salt, cumin, ancho chile powder and oregano and sprinkle on top of pork shoulder.  Sprinkle onion, garlic and green Tabasco over the pork.
  2. Turn on the slow cooker on:  Low for 8-10 hours or High for 4-6 hours.  Once the pork is fork-tender, use two forks to shred the meat into the juices.  Pull out pork with a slotted spoon and place on platter.  Top with chopped fresh cilantro.
  3. Serve over rice, turn into a salad with chopped avocado, tomatoes and black olives; or make it Paleo friendly and place it on romaine leaves with the toppings of your choice.
Beautiful, tender carnitas

Beautiful, tender carnitas

Avocado Lime Dressing:

  • 2 ripe fresh avocado, put removed
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup soy-free or homemade mayo
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp green Tabasco

Blend in a blender on low until thoroughly blended.

Flavorful carnita salad with avocado lime dressing

Flavorful carnita salad with avocado lime dressing

Carnita shell-less tacos

Carnita shell-less tacos

Perfect Margarita:

  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila of your choice
  • 3/4 oz Cointreu or triple sec
  • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice

Rim chilled cocktail glass with lime and salt.  Shake remaining ingredients with ice and strain into glass.

“Life without Mexican food is like no life at all!”  —unknown

Free Radicals

Sweet, salty and savory!

Food.  Humans have been obsessed with it since the beginning of time.  It defines us geographically, ethnically, culturally and economically. It has been a focus in my life since I made my first pie at age 10.  It is my vocation, entertainment, art form and passion.  As a vegetable farmer, I felt I was eating a balanced diet of the recommended vegetables, whole grains and proteins. Needless to say I was shocked when I had a life-threatening intestinal bleed-out in June of 2014 the repercussions I’m still sorting out.  What should I avoid?  How do I prevent it from happening again? When I discussed the food connection with my gastroenterologist, he was unconcerned since my tests proved inconclusive.

One thing I have learned since my health crisis, is that the medical profession for all of its wisdom, does not largely advocate diets that address the symptoms of the diseases they treat.  They adhere to their protocols using prescription medication to treat symptoms of disease, rather than the possible genesis of the disease through diet.

It was clear, that my partner Val and I would need to be proactive with our own research to help determine how I could avoid future frightening episodes.  We started reading in earnest, books such as Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.  The mere word ‘diet’ can sometimes freak me out.  Would I have to do this forever?  No artisan bread?  None the less, we decided to go gluten-free. Then came the shocker:  within 48 hours, my brain fog disappeared!   I had learned to live with its slowness for well over a decade, chalking it up to menopause or the aging process; but it was gone and has not returned.  Really?  My thinking was so clear that I became an evangelist for the gluten-free lifestyle. Although at one time I thought gluten-free was an over blown food fad, here I was subscribing to its tenants.  As we continued to connect the dots, our investigating lead to the Paleo Diet.  Now mind you, for a foodie like myself, I was nervous that I would not find enough variety to sustain this approach.  And could we just stop calling these approaches diets?

Paelo….my god is there material here!  Dozens and dozens of cookbooks, plans, pod-casts and blogs.  Still…I have, and continue to have reservations about its restrictions: no grains, no legumes, no dairy.  But like most things in my life; I jumped in with both feet.  Rather than focus on what I couldn’t have, I focus on the variety I do have.  When I consider the abundant approaches of ethnic food, I knew I would put my creativity to the test!  To that end my first recipe is a take on a Cuban Beef Picadillo.  I used our own roasted tomatoes, but you can use Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes with almost equal success.  It’s great over roasted spaghetti squash or as a lettuce roll-up.  My food future certainly seems less bleak.   Bon Appetite!

Sweet, salty and savory.

Sweet, salty and savory.

Perfect as a filling for tacos or a wrap.

Perfect as a filling for tacos or a wrap.

CUBAN BEEF PICADILLO

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs. pasture raised ground beef
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 farm fresh hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub olive oil on cut sides of squash.  Place on jelly-roll pan, covered with parchment paper, cut side down.  Roast for 50 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with the edge of a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine, onion and garlic; cook stirring occasionally, until wine is almost evaporated, about 5 more minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and raisins and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the chopped eggs, olives, and cilantro.
  5. With a fork, scrape some of the spaghetti squash into individual bowls. Top with sauce.

Serves: 4-6

“Ethnic diversity adds richness to society.”

—Gary Loche