Monday, February 25, 2013

Frankenfood Frustration and Fat Phobias

I really like a good roast pork loin with yummy pan-roasted potatoes and carrots.  Simple, right?
Not so much any more.  The beautiful gold potatoes and multi-colored carrots were easy enough -- from Bountiful Baskets (see previous posts). This morning I went out to buy a pork loin roast. Someone must have whisked me away to another planet while I wasn't watching. You'd have thought I was trying to find yak or dodo meat.

One major chain grocery store (Starts with S) only had pork products with 12% added 'flavoring and water' i.e. chemical sludge.  No thanks.

On to store #2, another national chain (starts with W). Similar, except I had the choice of 12% or 30% chemical stew in my pork.

On to chain #3 (chain starts with a K) and theirs were in either a net bag or plastic bag.  The ones in the plastic bags looked bloated from the chemical stew. Neither one provided sufficient view of the meat to know what the heck I was buying, except the neither had any visible fat layer -- only a few pea-sized specks. Passed on those.

Went to the locally-owned grocery, part of the Basha's chain, and did a little better.  The butcheress had to dig in the freezer in the back, but found me a real pork loin roast. Yes, it was frozen but there were no chemical sludge warning labels like at the other stores. Score one for the good guys.

Unfortunately, there was almost no fat remaining on the roast.  I understand that most people today are terrified of animal fat, but a good pork loin roast needs about a half-inch layer to cook properly (without the chemical stew). I bought the little thing anyway (about 3.5 lbs) and a pound of bacon to lard the little devil.

Tomorrow's dinner? Roast loin of pork, pan roasted potatoes and carrots and heart-stopping gravy. (With a spinach, blood orange and avocado salad courtesy of Bountiful Baskets)

Who knows, it may be the last hot meal we have before sequester-geddon!

UPDATE: Cooked the pork loin as follows:

Rubbed allover with a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic and rosemary. Put in a preheated oven at 450 (F). Turned down to 250 (F) after 10 minutes. After about an hour, threw the potatoes and carrots (all cut in half) in a separate pan w/a bit of the drippings and some olive oil, popped them in the oven. Cooked at this temp until internal temp of the roast hit 145 (F) -- about another hour+ for a 3.5 lb roast.  Removed the roast and increased the temp to 350(F) to brown the cut side of the potatoes. Served with the spinach, pink grapefruit and avocado salad (+ blue cheese crumbles and pecans).  It was really good.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Onward to the North!

The next leg of our journey took us a couple hundred miles north and east of the Paloose (but still in the US).  We saw our first appreciable herds of wildlife. The 'reintroduced' wolves, which are not the wolves that had been in the region but are the larger Canadian wolves, have reduced the elk and deer herds to shadows of what I saw 10 years ago.  The target number for wolves (500) was exceeded several years ago (now >3000), and many of the northwest states are now allowing or encouraging reducing the numbers. I saw a picture of a harvested wolf that weighed just over 250 lbs. Imagine a pack of 8 to 10 of those chasing you.

The elk stayed close to the cattle herds. 
 The deer were foraging in front yards during mid-day. 

Mountain sheep were right next to the road in a few places, disturbed only when I spent too long taking pictures. 
The general scenery was also a little more spectacular than the rolling fields of the beautiful Paloose.

We had some adventures, including snowshoeing, a little archery practice and sampling the fare at local restaurants. There was a lot of good food to be found in the far north!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Home Sick

Meaning I returned home and promptly became ill.  Bad cold, hopefully not the flu. Guess my body waited until the major events were over, then collapsed internally.
 So let me catch you up on the adventure.  I joined my brother who was recuperating from a hip replacement.  He was 4 weeks post-op and bored but otherwise doing well.  I soon caught his case of cabin fever.  For two weeks we did essentially the same thing -- have coffee and breakfast, go out on some made-up errand just to get out of the house, cook dinner, watch football (not my favorite), go to sleep, REPEAT.  It was snowy, then icy and cold in southern Idaho which precluded a lot of activities due to his slight limp and MD orders not to fall and hurt his hip.  We decided to leave the comfort and boredom of home and visit friends -- all to the north, of course!

First stop was in the Paloose of central and northern Idaho.  For years I have been reading Patrice Lewis, blogging and writing for WND from somewhere in the Paloose country.  It is a great expanse of deep soil on rolling terrain, perfect for growing wheat, lentils, garbanzos and other similar crops. Cattle seem to do well but the people are very dependent on the vagaries of the commodity markets. The people and local communities seem more interdependent and more self-sufficient than other US communities I've experienced.  Why buy Oscar Meyer at the grocery 30 mile away when your neighbor makes good pork sausage and might trade you some for a piece of your beef?

Now I get it. It is a challenging life, but very rewarding. We visited friends of my brother's.  They farm, raise cattle and have a Great Pyrenees (2 border collies, an indoor cat, barn cats, a few horses, etc...). 

They live near a small town that seems to be a pleasant community.  Despite growing up there, he spent 20 years away for a career and then moved back about 15 years ago.  Still seems to be seen as a bit of an outsider, but has a deep affection for the place and the people.  Deep roots in the deep soil of the Paloose.

Will close this chapter with a beautiful but snowy Paloose sunset
 and tell you about the next leg of our journey tomorrow!