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Despite (or because of) spending a good part of my life surrounded by hunters, I have always been a teensy bit of an anti-hunter. You know… Bambi and all that jazz. Hunting also was a sticky spot in my first marriage because it took precedence over all things.

But I recently had an aha moment.

About a month ago Sean watched Food Inc. at school and came home asking if we could start buying more ethically sourced meat. We had had already looking into it,  but haven’t jumped in because of the increased cost and hassle involved.

I got lots of great farm leads from Facebook friends, including a great pig farm in Winterport that just lets the pigs roam around and do their pig things until it’s time for them to become dinner. 23632190_1535610636518203_8916960185671850553_o.jpg While looking at their Facebook page (Souder Station Farm), I thought ‘What a great life they have! If only all the meat I eat could be living it’s best life until it’s time for it to become my dinner! WAIT. HOLY SHIT. That’s exactly what hunting is. OH MY GOD I’M SUCH AN ASSHOLE for hating on it all these years!’  Meat from a hunt is the actual, literal definition of “free-range meat.”

I can’t believe I never thought about it that way before. I think about all the anti-hunters out there that eat meat from the grocery store and restaurants giving no thought to those animals being brutally tortured from birth through death. A lifetime of stress and pain (aka hormones) saturated into their muscles. And then into our own when we ingest it and continue the cycle.

Hypocrisy at it’s finest!

 

I like big spicy butts aka How to make Pork Carnitas

Caution: THIS RECIPE IS A PAIN-IN-THE-ASS. If you don’t actually enjoy cooking and spending time in the kitchen, you will hate this unless you can get someone else to make it for you.

We became addicted to carnitas in Mexico, and waiting for a year between eating it is not an option. Hell… we barely make it a week before we make it again. It’s even whole30 friendly only by using riced n’ spiced cauliflower instead of my usual rice bowl. Or a lettuce wrap instead of a tortilla.

THE MEAT:

It HAS to be a butt or a shoulder. Trust me. Sale prices have encouraged us to try every cut out there. Butt is my favorite. I like big butts and I can not lie.

Cut your butt into 2″ish chunks. Season with salt and pepper and brown em up REAL good. BROWN them up. not GREY them up.

If you are totes adorbs like Lonnie and I and are cooking as a couple, while one of you browns the meat, the other can make the sauce.

Into the blender goes:

Juice of 4 limes, 2 oranges, 1 lemon

1 onion

2T cumin

2T chili powder

1T Mexican oregano

1t (or more if you like it super spicy) cayenne

Note: Sometimes we use 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce instead of the cayenne, or we use rehydrated guajeo peppers, but we live in Maine and finding the dried peppers called for in so many recipes we want to cook has been next to impossible (Yes. I know we could just order some.)

Spread your browned meat into a 9×13 or roasting pan. Pour the sauce all over it and squish it all around. Cover and bake low n’ slow, about 3 hours at 250.

At this point, you have 2 options. 1. Uncover, turn the heat up a bit and cook it more to reduce the liquid or 2. (Which is what Lonnie always does) Transfer it into a REALLY BIG frying pan to cook down the liquid. Your goal here is to cook down the liquid enough to then brown/caramelize the meat so it gets some DELICIOUS CRISPY BITS! It’s nearly impossible to do this with all the meat at once –in our kitchen anyway, so we usually cook down the liquid all in one giant pan, and then as we serve, we crisp the meat up in a separate pan.

THE WORST PART IS OVER!!!  You now have several days worth of AMAZING carnitas to use in rice bowls, tortillas, with your eggs for breakfast… whatever your is your jam. You do you, man!

Lonnie’s jam: Corn tortillas, and garnished with red onions pickled in red wine vinegar, pineapple, radish, and cilantro (This is usually how carnitas are served in Mexico. He’s a purist)

My jam: Rice bowl (or currently– a riced, seasoned (onion powder, salt, cayenne, cumin, chili powder) cauliflower bowl), topped with guacamole, radish, maybe some scallions. Sometimes (when I’m not whole30ing), I go with the typical, shredded cheese/sour cream/guac business/black beans and corn business that Chipotle has taught us to love.

 

I CAN quit you!

Last November I read a book called “Never Binge Again: Reprogram Yourself to Think Like a Permanently Thin Person” that turned out to be life-changing (however, not as immediately and dramatically as the author claims it to be). After reading the book I added some foods to my “never eat again” list. This went against the old, “everything in moderation,” idea we’ve always been taught.

I never ate Sour Patch Kids or Reduced Fat Cheezits again. Those 2 foods joined fountain diet Pepsi, and my ex-husband, in the Historical Museum of Bad Past Relationships.

 

HOWEVER…. for many months, I cheated. My Reduced Fat Cheezits became Goldfish crackers or Cheddar Combos and my Sour Patch Kids became Skittles. I quikly became so known for skittles, my coworkers brought me them as treats and came to expect and look forward to my “leftover (disgusting) greens.”  It slowly dawned on me that I had not “quit” anything. I still was meeting my emotional needs with a cheesy crunchy snack and a sweet-sour chewy snack. So I stopped. I did so by proclaiming to myself, my coworkers (to turn down their generous candy gifts), and my family that I no longer ate skittles. There is literally NO GOOD REASON for me to ever eat Skittles. None. Think of one. I dare you (and “Cuz they’re gud” isn’t a reason. I’m sure cocaine is gud too).

So now Skittles have a cute little shelf in the museum.

Guess what!? I’m FINE! I miss NONE of the things I decided to stop eating.

I did make a choice not put Goldfish in the museum because, well, I don’t want to and I am the boss of my own self. Also because I have a propensity for motion-sickness when traveling and Goldfish are my cure. Sometimes I AM eating them for an emotional reason, usually work busy busy busy-ness.  The key is to know what I am doing and why. I’m not just ‘cookie-monstering’ my way through life, gobbling up my emotions like snickerdoodles.

Results? YES! I ‘ve lot more than 20 pounds! BUT, I attribute the weight loss more to using Myfitnesspal (diet AND exercise). The REAL results of embracing the philosophy were changes in my MIND and ATTITUDE. I really thought I *NEEDED* those things. My life is better because I am not a slave to cravings. Being on the Myfitnesspal program has been a CINCH this time around, and I completely credit my embracing the spirit of that book for paving the way to have success this time around. My BODY is not the problem, it’s my MIND that needed tweaking.

If I can do it, YOU CAN DO IT. I have LITERALLY written blogs about my love of (and trying to quit ) fountain soda and how I felt like it helped identify me as a person LOL

If you are so inclined, you can read my blog post I wrote when I finished the book last year, by clicking here!

Trip Reflections

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Percy Priest Lake, Nashville (well technically this photo is Antioch)

See what I did there with the photo and title?   Fun fact: There is only ONE natural lake in all of Tennessee and all the rest, including this one,  are man-made! And either Mom or Chris told me that some of them were towns they just flooded over. So… like… are there houses down under the water?  That’s hella creepy.  Another fun fact: because I am me, thinking about houses under the water immediately led to thinking about mermaids and possible mermaid towns in the lakes of Tennessee.

Recon

This trip, like all of our trips, was part of our quest for future places to live when Sean graduates in 2020. This trip gave Nashville a very strong lead. We got to experience the “icky parts” of Nashville life, like heat/humidity and having your life revolve around traffic patterns and both felt that the benefits of having THINGS TO DO and PLACES TO EAT appear to outweigh the drawbacks. The cost-of-living seems about the same, possibly even a little less than here. It’s also nice to consider moving somewhere you already know people!

Confessions

  • I will probably get into country music if I move to Nashville. Dancing and singing and listening to music downtown was so fun that I forgot to hate country music for a few hours.
  • I think I want to become a Zumba or Dance Fitness instructor but struggle with that whole, “Girrrrrl…. you fat. How you gonna show me how to exercise?” thing. (I know that seems random, but I was thinking about it a lot in Nashville because there are no many more opportunities to do stuff down there, and also because there is SO MUCH MORE good food to eat and try that exercise will be even more important than ever…lol!)
  • 20170922_180232Piper (my 1yo german shepherd) is the devil. We knew she was naughty untrained, but I think we were in ‘bad pet owner denial,’ until our friends dog-sat her for us and she was a holy terror. She is a high-energy, uncoordinated, moose-in-a-china-shop of a dog and even before our trip, we’ve had some hard discussions as a family about possibly finding her a more appropriate home. After the trip, we had to face the truth about our little angel giant monster. BUT, we are not giving up on her. We are buckling down and making a commitment to improving her behavior by improving OUR behavior! WE CAN DO THIS! (I hope).

That’s about all I’ve got for today. I think I want to be a better blogger and blog shorter and more often. I think. Maybe.