Snout to tail

As a birthday gift James took me to butchery class (very romantic).

We took home a ton of pork that night.

Recipes for Pork Butt, Belly and tenderloin after a few gruesome photos. Apologies to vegetarian/vegan friends.

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Just this half of the pig weighed over 75 lbs

Portland Culinary workshop in North Portland has hands on culinary classes.  Very knowledgeable and qualified teacher/chef instructs on a variety of subjects.  Our class size was only three people.

IMG_2832I felt really comfortable with the knife and still managed to cut myself while removing pig skin (it gets slippery).

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Pork Explosion

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We were sent home with two large Pork Butts, a ham round, large slab of pork belly and a huge pork tenderloin.

I made carnitas with the pork butts, slow roasted the pork belly with sage for another meal, cut two large pork chops off of the loin, froze the ham and finally roasted the rest of the tenderloin with to enjoy with winter veggies.

Recipe Links 

Carnitas – Pork Butt

Maple Brined Pork

Carnitas

Easy carnitas recipe, lots of room to improvise.  We used pork butt we brought home from a butchery class and made double this amount.  Be sure to cut off excess fat or remove large sections after roasting.

Ingredients

  • 4 pound boneless pork butt cut into cubes

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • 3/4 tsp pepper

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 Tb fresh lime juice

  • 2 C water, to cover

  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Instructions

  1.  Heat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Combine all the ingredients in a large Dutch oven.

  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered.

  4. Cover pot and transfer to the oven, about 2 hours.

  5. Remove the pot from the oven and turn on the broiler.

  6. Remove the meat from the pan and place it on a large foil-lined pan.

  7. Remove and discard bay leaves & onion from dutch oven, keep the cooking liquid.

  8. Place pot over high heat on the stove and boil until it thickens and syrupy, about 20 minutes. You should have about 1 C of liquid remaining at the end.

  9.  Use two forks to pull each cube of pork into three equal sized pieces. Once the liquid has reduced, gently fold in the pieces of pork into the pot.  Add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

  10. Spread the pork back onto the foil lined pan and evenly spread the meat around so there is a single layer of meat. Place in oven to broil until the top of the meat is well browned and edges are slightly crisp. Keep a close eye on the meat during this stage. Flip the carnitas to crisp further.  Serve with tortillas or over rice

Black & Blue #1

Space Illustrations

From the book ‘All About the STARS’ by Anne Terry White published by Random house in 1954. 

Illustrations by Melvin Bilek.

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I love how simple and deeply pigmented these illustrations are.  This book is sixty-three years old and was published before the first moon walk in 1969.

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Even though the science is a touch outdated, these images still stir up wonder and amazement .

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Impressive sparkling celestial images using only two colors and the white of the page.

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Right now my favorite image is of the eclipse below.  Oregon received many visitors this year being in the path of totality.

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Indoor Plant Babies #1

For the first time maybe EVER I know that I can keep plants alive.  I have succulents and cacti that I’ve had for over two years.  I can’t stop buying plants and now that we’re moving into fall I’m hoping these new guys survive. Here are some pictures of the new guys and  a few memories from the beginning of my plant journey.

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Calla Lily

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Tropic Canna Lily and Vrisea “Cherlette”

I was one of the students in my middle school made responsible for the greenhouse. Before or during our lunch break it was our job to water the many houseplants, ferns, forgotten science projects and tropical trees.  These already struggling plants were placed under the care of clueless inner-city kids during the particularly harsh Missouri winter of my seventh grade year and many did not make it.  Over-watering.

After the Lincoln Middle School Plant Massacre, I told myself that I was just totally challenged at all things plant related.  I watched my mother attempt and fail many times at growing anything in the Missouri red clay soil surrounding our house. Sometimes a random cluster of neglected marigolds survived in the front yard but that was about it.  I never really attempted house plants or a garden until I was about 25.  It was grown over by weeds but we still harvested some delicious radishes and cucumbers.

Five years ago, I moved into my first apartment in Portland and I received two house warming plants an orchid and some sort of GMO flower from Fred Myers.  The orchid lasted almost exactly four months and then I watered it to death.  The restaurant I was co-managing at that same time had great big indoor trees and small succulents on every table.  The tallest and most beautiful tree in that place was getting watered once a week by me at the owners request.  A few months into this routine, the tree looked pathetic, almost dead.  It had to my fault I thought.  I had no idea that the bus boys were emptying water pitchers into the soil at the end of the night, the florist responsible for the living arrangement was watering it bi-weekly.  The tree survived but could have suffered root rot under those conditions, and became a very expensive mistake.  They had to repot a massive, massive plant, it was so sad.

The first apartment I lived in with James in downtown Portland had the coolest balcony for plants, it was actually the most ornate thing on the whole buildings exterior.  When I moved in the box was full of planters and containers of dirt and things did eventually grow but he had NO IDEA what any of it was.  Many of the containers had no drainage and the Pacific Northwest region receives a ton of rain in the spring and winter so the balcony would become and pool and many planters were overgrown with moss.  It took SO much work to organize and remove old soil.  I learned in that apartment that succulents and the ornamentals I was purchasing don’t love rain and direct sunlight, that growing and transplanting seedlings is hard.  A lonely jade plant and a bunch of cacti (photo below) made the move with us into our new house.

Sadly only a few cuttings of the original jade and three cacti are still with us, a little over two years later.

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Today only 4 of these plants are alive.  Whoops. 

 

 

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September Shelfie.  Cactus, Snake plant, Vrisea and my Jade.

Watch for Plant Shelfie Update later this fall.

Secret Chapel

Earlier this year we went to Amsterdam for a few nights and stayed in a hidden chapel.  Built in 1751, this unique air bnb was converted from a secret church into a romantic hideaway. I hope you enjoy the photos.

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Tiny door between buildings takes you to a private alley.  I Love the way the old architecture sways,

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The most beautiful ceiling I’ve slept under.

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Spooky illuminati eye on the room centerpiece.  I’ve never stayed in a more beautiful room.

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Centerpiece above the bed, photographs do not do this justice.

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Vintage Children’s Books

I visit second hand shops bi-weekly and almost always find items that fit seamlessly with the items already in my home.  Giving a second life to items that people no longer wanted makes shopping second hand such a rewarding hobby.  I can’t leave behind a good find just because I can’t find an immediate use for it in my life and I grow small collections of like items over time.

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I find that most educational children’s books from the 1950’s have incredible art work on the covers and within.  Even though some of the scientific captions are inaccurate in 2017, there is a wealth of information in these guides usually with sweet and detailed illustrations of the subject matter.

I’m saving my personal copies of Golden Guides and children’s learning books from the 50’s for myself and future children.  Anyone who has a love for science and nature will see the value in preserving these charming books and referencing them often.

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I like to keep and eye out for duplicates, sometimes they are in better shape than the ones I currently have.  Books missing critical pages or covers make great gifts for vintage paper enthusiast and collage makers as these illustrations are perfect for art projects and thoughtful stationary.  I purchase these books from thrift and antique shops as well as  directly from Etsy  and online sellers.

You can find a great collection of books and paper goods on my own etsy shop:

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and see whats new and coming up at the shop on Instagram @blackwellhabit

 

Salted Honey Pie

This is an awesome early spring dessert and uses 3/4 cup honey, you can use store bought but I highly recommend going to your local honey purveyors and finding out what sort of variety is available in your area. For example, a buckwheat honey is dark brown in color, thick in consistency and tastes similar to molasses.  No matter what honey you use, know that this pie is very, very, sweet and basically a sugar pie or heavy custard.  You can use your own butter crust recipe for the shell.  I like to garnish with great big hand harvested salt flakes.

Preheat 350°

Ingredients:

  • Butter, 1/2 cup, melted
  • White Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • White Cornmeal, 2 tbs.
  • Salt, 1/4 tsp
  • Honey, 3/4 cup
  • Eggs, 3 large
  • Heavy Cream, 1/2 cup
  • White Vinegar, 2 tsp
  • Vanilla Paste, 1 tsp
  • Maldon or Hand Harvested Salt Flakes for garnish

  1. Using a mixer, combine Sugar, Salt, Cornmeal and butter to make paste.
  2. Add honey, Vanilla Paste and Vinegar – mix
  3. Fold in eggs and blend in cream
  4. Pour into shell
  5. Bake 45-60 minutes
  6. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour

Squash with Balsamic, Honey & Feta

 

This dish was an instant favorite at a Canadian Friends-giving a few years back.  James and I get TWO Thanksgivings every year, we are SO lucky! This is an easy vegetarian side to make that can be served hot or cold, brings color to the table and travels well so it is perfect for potlucks and family style sharing.  It has well balanced sweet and savory components that you find in Sweet Potato casseroles and Bread puddings.

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Ingredients:

  • Butternut or Acorn Squash, peeled and cubed
  • Olive Oil, 1 tbs
  • Sesame seeds, 2 tbs
  • Honey, 3 tbs
  • Balsamic, 1 tbs
  • Chili Flake, 1/2 tsp
  • Feta, 2 ounces, crumbled
  • S & P, to taste

  1. Toss cubed Squash in Olive Oil and distribute evenly on sheet tray
  2. Bake 20 minutes at 410°, remove and toss with sesame seeds.
  3. Bake additional 10 minutes
  4. In a serving dish drizzle Honey, Balsamic, Feta and Chili flakes over roasted Squash
  5. S & P, serve hot or cold.