Monday, March 24, 2014

The Good Stuff

Friday was a special day for me. You see, I have this friend that I never get to see, and Friday, finally, was my opportunity to spend time with her. I first met Tricia right after I moved to Florida, and she was one of the first people to welcome me to my new state. Little does she know how much it meant to me to have a friendly smile and chat about two of my favorite things:  knitting and books.

Over the ensuing years we both got busy. She works as a waitress and I homeschool, so our hours tend to not overlap much. Also, I got more and more involved in church work, which meant I was spending less time at the knit shop where we first met. But we stayed in touch, and I'm so glad!

You see, Tricia makes me smile. She probably doesn't know this, but I'm going to say it out loud. She also makes me think, and that's a good thing. Practically speaking, the two of us probably cancel each other out in the voting booth, if you know what I mean, but that's one of the things I like about her. I respect her ideas and thoughts, and I feel that she respects mine, and I frequently learn something I didn't know when we get together.

And another thing... Tricia likes to spin! So this Friday we made it a spinning day, and boy was it fun! We started off at my community park, as it was such a warm sunny day, and eventually we wound up back at my house on the lanai.
I love the art yarn this girl puts out!
By the end of the day, I had FINALLY managed to finish up a bobbin of lace-weight that I've been working on forever!

By the way, you may notice her rather "butch" hairstyle. The previous day, this sweet gal shaved her head to get ahead of the hair loss she was experiencing due to her chemotherapy. Tricia found out recently that she has breast cancer. Stage IV. That means it's spread. But look at that smile! I am so inspired by her positive outlook. She is not letting this define who she is and continues to enjoy her new life with a smile.

Anyway, we both did a lot of smiling and a lot of spinning, and at the end of the day, I was impressed with both of our progress. Not only did I finish the bobbin, but I was able to take out my spindle and do some spinning on it as well.
Bobbin one:  complete!
This particular spindle that I was using is a trindle, and I love using it! I love how I can change the arms to be heavier or lighter. I love how the arms come apart for easy transport, and I love how I can wind my cop on at varying places along the spindle to ensure an even wind-on. I also love that I didn't break the bank to purchase one.
My Trindle and some blue roving of the Merino variety.
Now for the good stuff. Yes, it was good to get that spinning done, but the good stuff wasn't any of that. It was simply time spent with a friend for an extended period of time, some of it in laughter and some of it in silence. The gift of time with friends and family is the good stuff, and I hope you will seek it out in this crazy, helter-skelter lifestyle we all seem to find ourselves in.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's What's For Dinner...(and a cool clean-up trick!)

Apologies in advance for the few that may have stuck with me. I haven't posted in a long time. My excuses are thin. Surgery, flu, cold. The usual. Then after I worked through all of that, I figured I needed to blog something BIG. So I thought. And thought. And thought. And hit upon some great ideas, but no time to expand, refine, and submit. So today I decided enough was enough. I was going to blog about... supper!

It's what we're having tonight, and maybe you were looking for some ideas of what to serve as well. This is an idea my sweet mother-in-law gave me a few years ago, and it is enjoyed in our home. Homemade pulled pork sandwiches! Here's how I prepare them.

First, I usually look for the boneless pork spare ribs for a 2-for-1 special. That way I can make enough to last awhile.

2-for-1! That's my kind of deal!
Once I pick them up from the store, I initially brown them in a skillet in a small amount of oil and spices. I'm not monogamous with my spices. This week I used Emeril's. Other times I have used fajita spices or lots of varieties of pepper corns. It's a whimsy kind of thing for me.
Today it's Emeril's, tomorrow, who knows?
After browning them slightly, I whisk them all into my crockpot and cover them with chicken broth.
The cooking begins!
I like to set the pot to cook on low all day. Once they're done (sorry, I can't show you that, as they've only been in the crockpot for about 10 minutes) I lift the cuts out with a slotted spoon and let them cool slightly. Once cooled enough to handle, I put on surgical gloves and hand pick the meat apart, placing it in a bowl. I pour a little of the broth over the meat to keep it moist and reserve the rest in the freezer for a future stew. They are fabulous sandwiches, and the prep time and cost are minimal.

And now for the trick. As you can probably imagine, the skillet gets quite messy from the browning process. Up until recently, I would set the pan to soak and then clean it up when my muscles felt up to the task. But no more! Thanks to my friend Liz (thanks Liz!) I learned one more reason to love my vinegar!

Take a look at the pan.
That browning is stuck on there pretty well!
This was always the part of the meal I never liked, but that is no more! Liz showed me how vinegar does a great job of de-glazing pans. All you have to do is pour a little white vinegar into the pan or pot while it is still relatively warm. Add a little dish soap, and the grime practically floats off! I did that, and with just a light wash, the pan came clean!
Clean, baby!
Truly. The pan is clean and my muscles never got their workout! Maybe that is a universally known trick, but I missed it in the year I took Home Ec. Why on earth didn't I take more? It would have been the most useful class for me... but I digress.

One other cool thing I wanted to share with you, by the way. I don't know if any of you use cast iron, but I pretty much use it daily. My normal M.O. to clean the pan would be to scrub it hard, and then dry it on the stove. Sometimes the scrubbing took a lot of muscle effort (maybe I'm lazy?). Anyway, I found a great product on Amazon that has made things ever so much easier. It's a chain mail pot scrubber and it's fabulous! The kids seem to think it's pretty cool as well. If you, like me, like to cook with cast iron, I'd encourage you to check it out.

So that's supper in a nutshell. I'm still knitting and spinning. Speaking of spinning, I have a beginning spindling class coming up at Knitwitz in Mandarin on Saturday, March 29th. It runs from 9 to noon, and I'd love to have you come out for it! I'd absolutely love to see you there! Give them a call to register today!