We’re down to the last five days or so of the great Arbonne experiment, as I mentioned, and I’m still trying to keep things fresh. Yesterday, I did spicy pulled pork, based on Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I did it before work and was trying to go quickly, so I didn’t bother with the processed onion etc., and I skipped the brown sugar because of our food restrictions. I quartered some onions and put them in the bottom, and threw in vinegar, chicken broth, and did the spices on top. I used some of my fresh spicy oregano instead of dried. I had Mom check it in the afternoon and add a little water, and I squeezed limes over it as it rested after I shredded it. We didn’t bother with turning it, and it turned out okay— more done on one side, but the Dutch oven is a little heavy for Mom, and we both like the crispy bits.
I was torn on a side dish. We’ve been all about the cauliflower rice, but I’m not so fond of rice to begin with, and I’m about at my limit even for the cauliflower substitute that I prefer. I’m also a little over sweet potatoes, if we’re being honest. Quinoa is not Mom’s favorite, but I don’t like the pinto beans she prefers. I stumbled, by great coincidence, on this recipe for a blend. It seemed like a great compromise position. I have a bumper crop of collard greens in the garden to substitute for the kale, and I threw in onion instead of sweet potato, and a little salsa and cilantro for zing. I cooked the quinoa in the collard water, threw the onion in raw, and mixed it up. (I also used red beans, not kidneys.)
I’d say that my mixture was a little wet, and because I skipped the parmesan, it didn’t hang together as well as it does in the recipe. I also determined that 1/2 c. per cake is a little ambitious unless you have a giant spatula. I had better luck with smaller cakes. But even the ones that fell apart were tasty, and more interesting than any of the standalone ideas I had.
I paired this with a simple, fresh cole slaw of red cabbage, carrots, cilantro, celery seed (to me, this is the secret ingredient in my Mom’s cole slaw that makes it great. There’s an official secret ingredient that I also approve of, but you’re not getting it here. See also “secret.”) and a dressing of equal parts homemade mayo and rice vinegar.
The cake had the delicious fried crispiness, the pork was delectable and juicy, and the cole slaw was fresh and acidic in all the right ways. I made Mom a little guac for her pork. It was a hit.
It also opened us up to a good conversation about yesterday’s topic for me, what does life after this look like. I said the thing about how nice the digestive stability has been. She agreed that it’s done us some good, and that although she’s anxious to get back to real food, she surprised me by saying “how do we know what we’re sensitive to?” She remembered, though I did not, that the woman who sold it to us said that she figured out that she’s sensitive to corn, and by staying off the corn, she’s been more comfortable in real life. I said that it’s a matter of slowly introducing potential allergens slowly, and observing how your body reacts. She made a face and said something like “I wanted a magic bullet!” It shocked me, because I’ve said that about her, but it isn’t something I thought she saw in herself. I agreed that it would be easier if we could just go back to eating “normally” and get the information easily, but that this was the only real way to get to the bottom of it.
I don’t know if she’ll do it, but I was impressed that it was even a conversation. I said something about having tried to keep it fresh and interesting, while we were restricted, and she said that I have done a really good job of it.
It really touched me. As did the fact that she ran and emptied the dishwasher. All of that prep work left me with a mountain of dishes in the sink, and I thought I’d have to empty the dishwasher at 10:20 p.m. before I could refill it, and put away the leftovers, and scoop the cat box, and collect the garbage for trash day… but she’d taken care of putting away the dishes, which made things just that much easier/faster. We made plans to renew our season tickets for the opera, and in general, had a super-nice evening.