Friday, February 13, 2009

Some Things Never Change

We may get a little older. A little thicker around the middle. We may have to move across the country (against our will). We even might have to accept into our lives those that are younger, bolder, and with looks rivaling our own, even in our heyday. But who we are, what we love most, our passions - and yes our vices - those don't ever change.

Nellie, circa 2002

Nellie, February 2009

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Field Lines Does Cooking

One thing I'm discovering is that all the warnings that life as a postdoc would leave me no free time is 100% true. I work 50-60 hours a week. It's one of those things that is not absolutely required, but the postdoc doesn't ever want to be the last person to arrive and the first to leave. Experiments usually take 5-6 hours, and it's a good feeling to be able to squeeze two in in a day. Otherwise I feel less productive. Plus, working long days in the lab in the winter gives me political capital in the spring when we want to take a long weekend to visit New York (2 hours away), Boston (45 minutes away), or DC (6 hours away). Dean calculated there are 6 major league ball parks within 6 hours of here and countless minor league parks. So while I've been working hard to earn political capital, Dean's been working overtime to earn the financial capital to fund these adventures.

As you can imagine, this schedule does not lend itself well to preparing nightly meals. I used to have a lot more time to cook as a grad student when my commute was zilch and I could work from home after dinner. So this winter I've gotten in to the habit of cooking a few large meals on the weekend, popping them in the freezer and re-heating them during the week. I still have one or two nights where I have to cook, but I usually just throw together some pasta or tacos. Among my freezer standards has been vegetable beef soup (a hybrid recipe that has morphed from my grandma's original, into my dad's which I've further modified to fit Dean's taste and to stretch into a couple more meals), turkey chili, and beef stroganoff. I've fallen back in love with my slow cooker, especially during my first real winter in six years where it has not only been used to easily cook large batches of food, but to fill the house with comforting food smells.

One recipe that I came across has been a so convenient and so tasty I thought I'd share it with you. Once a month or so I cook up a batch of pulled pork in the slow cooker and it is phenomenal. I've already shared this recipe with my dad, and one of my friends who also reads this asked me a couple weeks ago for it. I didn't get around to emailing her, so I thought instead I'd post it in hopes of spreading the deliciousness around the blogosphere. Don't laugh, but I just got it off of the Good Houskeeping website. That's what I love most about slow cooker recipes, they are often so simple, but the flavors cook together so long that you end up with nearly the same depth of flavor as a meal you've slaved over for hours. I especially like this particulr recipe because it calls for you to make your own sauce. If you don't just have this stuff laying around, it's a pain to get it all at the grocery store the first time. But buy them in large bottles and all you need to pick up the next time you make a batch is the meat and the buns. Plus, you can change any of the amounts to suit your tastes - spicy, sweet, tangy, however you want it. I really don't like sweet barbeque sauce so I go light on the brown sugar. I also substitute spicy smoked paprika to give it an extra smoky taste. I divide up the final product into 4-5 tupperware containers to put in the freezer. It isn't exactly a diet-conscience recipe and as you know, Dean and I are always trying to cut corners with fat and calories. Once you freeze the meat and retrive it to reheat, it's very easy to skim off the solidified fat to make it a little healthier. I serve the re-heated meat on kaiser rolls with reduced fat Cape Cod patato chips (you can't tell the difference) and a side Caesaer salad. We have it usually once a week and Dean has yet to get tired of it.

If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it and what you did differently!

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c tomato paste
1/2 c ketchup
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c brown suger
2 tablespoons each of:
yellow mustard
Wochestershire sauce
1 & 1/2 tsp salf
1 & 1/4 tsp pepper

4 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast (or 4.5 -5 lbs bone-in works fine too)

Mix sauce ingredients together in mixing bowl. Pour in slow cooker. Cut meat into 3-4 large chunks and place on top of sauce. Cover and cook on low setting 10-12 hours. Remove meat from slow cooker using tongs* and increase to high setting for 15 minutes or so to thicken sauce. While sauce is thickening, pull pork apart with forks and then return to slow cooker.

I've found that if you leave it the full 12 hours, you don't even need to remove the meat, just the bone if it was a bone-in roast. I just stand over the slow cooker picking at the meat using tongs and it just falls apart because it's so tender. Also, if you are freezing it, you don't necessarily need to thicken the sauce until you reheat it. That helps make this recipe easy to just throw together and forget about for a few hours, until the wonderful aroma sneaks up on you like those cartoon fingers...

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

One Word Meme

I've seen a variant of this on other people's blogs and it came to me from hot4teacha in email form last week. For number 25, she put me! Feeling so much love from hot4teacha right now, she has been an awesome friend and blog supporter, just wanted to give her a shoutout. You rock, girl! I just thought I'd post my answers to brighten the mood a little bit...

1. Where is your cell phone? desk

2. Your significant other? Massachusetts

3. Your job? scientist

4. Shoes you're wearing? Docs

5. Your father? Chris

6. Your favorite thing? books

7. Your dream last night? teeth

8. Your favorite drink? wine

9. Your dream/goal? security

10. The room you're in? 309

11. Your fear? loneliness

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? parenthood

13. Where were you last night? home

14. What you're not? superficial

15. Muffins? fattening

16. One of your wish list items? sedan

17. Where did you grow up? Minneapols

18. The last thing you did? centrifuged

19. What are you wearing? glasses

20. Your TV? CRT :(

21. Your pet? felines

22. Your computer? Dell

23. Your life? busy

24. Your mood? weary

25. Missing someone? EVERYONE

26. Your car? Honda^2

27. Something you're not wearing? makeup

28. Favorite Store? Macy's

29. Your summer? memorable

30. Your favorite color? maroon

31. Last time you laughed? 1:00

32. Last time you cried? January