This is what happens when you're housebound during a gnarly rainy windstorm and live with a butcher, haha... In actuality, we decided that instead of cooking up a storm on the upcoming national holiday, we're spreading our cooking plan into an entire week, so as to enjoy my honey's one paid day off in a zero-stress way. With that, for Solstice, we defrosted the pig's head and two trotters we had in the freezer to make Cau Cau, a really tasty Peruvian stew, often made with tripe but with a variety of great substitutes described in our cookbook (one we've started to dive into this year to make up for the inability to enjoy it at our favorite little spots when we visit my hometown of Portland). Basically you have to quarter the head (to fit in the pot - and we still needed to use our canning pot!) but also remove things like the brains and eyeballs beforehand. (The chooks gobbled up the scraps, let me tell you, nasty but awesome!). Glad to have the husband around to do the grosser parts of the job, while I got the veggies prepped and in the pot (a particular amen for freezing carrots from the garden!), and it was pretty amazing that we were able to get as much meat from that and the trotters after boiling them down for a couple hours. We'd actually already removed the cheeks to make guanciale earlier in the year, but there were lots of other goodies hidden away - hence why using "everything but the oink" on a pig is so important! Along with making the Cau Cau, we reduced the broth down to stock and canned a bit of that, as well as used some of it with the leftover bits for making polenta with bacon and sage, subbing the stock for the dairy...which was CRAZY good. It's been way fun learning in the kitchen together and experimenting in ways we never could have imagined a few years ago!
For over 30 years, I've collected ticket stubs to the concerts, dance performances, games and other events I've attended, thinking I'd make a scrapbook and hand it down to my kid. Since we are not going to be parents as we'd hoped, it's changed a lot of our perspectives on what kinds of things we want to keep, versus donate or toss. All week I'd been brainstorming ideas about how to translate these memories into something, from doing online searches to see videos others had taken of those performances, to recounting who I went with and what I loved about the show, and more. Then something washed over me and I heard a voice in my head say, Leave it behind. Focus on today. Everyone has something they're hanging onto that reminds them of a time in their life where, years later, we somehow think were easier, more fun times. But while my body may have been more toned and I may have danced in more clubs back then, was I truly happier? Or do I think of the past with my present-day body of knowledge? You know, the "if I knew then what I know now" and taking that BACK with you, the decisions you would have made. For a long time, I compartmentalized memories of certain individuals who starred in certain chapters, and mistook my gentleness towards those memories as forgiveness. Only recently have I allowed myself to revisit those memories, in what I've recently termed as 'autobiographical dreams' of sorts that I have in those hours just before awakening, and really started to come to terms with those and remind myself of who those friends, lovers and family members really were and why it's so good that they are not in my life anymore. And while 2021 represents starting much of my life from scratch, knowing that I have a wonderful partner to bear witness to this refresh of sorts? That's all i can ask for. Everything else that's past...is past.
And speaking of...this is what I woke up to the other day. Stuff like this I never tire of! We fell in love across a great big ocean and blogs, letters, calls, care packages and more are what connected to us deeply. So grateful to have him by my side for almost a decade now :)
And talk about YUM! Our holiday eatin' was very very good to put it mildly. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, we spread out our Peruvian dinners throughout the week so we could be fairly lazy on Friday, and it was so worth it! For brekkie, I made citrus ricotta pancakes topped with some of my husband's homemade turkey/cherry sausage, and for lunch (not pictured) we had homemade cinnamon rolls, part of a three-year tradition that says we can eat whatever, whenever, however on this one particular day :). In mid afternoon, we started cooking but not first without husband making Sexy Chinitas - yep that's the name of the Pisco cocktail from the aforementioned cookbook that's main flavors include lemon, muddled mint from our garden, and a big beautiful strawberry at the bottom. We were stoked to find Macchu Pisco at the liquor store in Gearhart, as it's one of the rare woman-owned Pisco brands out there (not to mention most of the liquor stores here didn't know what Pisco was, oy!). For dinner we had one of the best food combinations possible - and completely vegetarian - in the form of Locro de Zappallo, Mango Ceviche, and organic greens. The LDZ is the stew in the photo, featuring pumpkins (from our garden), sweet potatoes (I subbed those as I prefer them over white), and tons of other veggies both fresh and frozen from our garden (amen for great red storage onions!) on a bed of brown rice . Earlier in the fall my husband's co-op had a special shipment of organic Keitt Mangoes from California and so I had him buy a ton and I cubed/froze them for the holidays, and so that in the ceviche with our own home grown red wing onions and cilantro that is somehow STILL growing in our raised bed (thanks to very few evenings below freezing in this fairly 'mild' winter)? Tasty as all get out. We supported our favorite wine-bar-turned-wine-shop-due-to-pandemic and picked up a CRAZY good bottle of sustainable, Oregon-grown OPP pinot noir by Maison Noir to sip alongside dinner, then finished the night off with (not pictured) a chocolate tres leches that was so good that cameras were forgotten as we sunk into the sofa and went to heaven while watching The Debt starring one of our favorite screen goddesses, Helen Mirren.
What'd you do this week?