Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ordinary Things

"It never rains in California

But girl, don't they warn ya.

When it pours, man it pours."

Albert Hammond wrote in 1972, lyrics perfect for weekends like the one which was and week which will be.

When it rains, it is as close to time standing still as we come to in Southern California. What to do? Enjoy the colors of the clouds, the landscape. Find a books to curl up in in front of the fire with.

Reading Nicholas Sparks novels is a guilty pleasure. They read like an oil color painting of towns near the Carolina coast. The people walking through the scenes are so real, you can hear their southern accents. They live in places with broad porches and mostly good neighbors. The protagonists love with Gone with the Wind intensity. What they eat, is tasted through the page. The family dogs bark and are part of the storyline. Just as a single recipe can make a cookbook worth the purchase, there is always a good take-away line in Nicholas Sparks novel which ring like chimes in the storm outside my study window. Like this-

"...she was struck by the simple truth that sometimes the most ordinary things could be made extraordinary, simply by doing them with the right people. " Beth- in Nicholas Sparks novel The Lucky One
How true.
Our neighbor to the north, Sandy Price offered me a package of Friendship Bread Starter the previous week. Who does not get carried away by the scent of bread rising in the oven? Thank you Sandy! I thought of how special you and your family are ever day I kept that starter going.
For dinner- with the rain- there was no way I was sending my husband outside to man the barbecue. There was a movie to watch, so I wasn't keen to fuss in the kitchen. This is the pop-it- in- and- forget- it Pork Loin Roast which became our late taco dinner.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Drain 2 Cans Ortega Fire Roasted Diced Green Chiles-
Add with the chiles in a small bowl
2 tsp Lawry's Seasoned Pepper
1 pkg taco seasoning
2 Tbsp chili powder (if you are afraid of all this chili- you can skip the powder)
2 tsp to 1 tbsp minced garlic
oregano- the leaves pulled clean from 5 stems (1 tbsp fresh if you must measure)
1-1/2 tsp gray salt- (it really is better- but in this imperfect world, sea salt is a fine substitute)
Stir together thoroughly to make a paste which you smoosh onto the whole outside of a washed
4 pound pork shoulder roast.
Wrap the roast tightly in foil- the juices will saturate the roast as it simmers in its own juices in a covered casserole dish in the oven. Set the buzzer for 3/12 to 4 hours- you know your own oven best. Then go away until the buzzer says it is ready to pull the juicy roast apart with two forks.

Watching The Secret Life of Bees with my husband was sweeter than watching alone. Perhaps it was because our extended family is richly diverse- Perhaps because once-upon-a- time, his late father was a beekeeper, the movie resonated with us. No matter- it is excellent. Even more so with the last Presidential election. To have clear evidence this year that this nation has forged fast-forward on improving racial relations in one generation. Whatever you think of President Barack Obama- it is wonderful to have affirmed that a person will not be turned down for something that really is immaterial - the pigmentation of skin. Like the 4 minute mile- an extraordinary boundary no longer exists. That is good. For snack- the light sweet bread spread with real butter and honey- perfect with the theme of the movie.
It was long past dark before we could sit down to the tacos. The corn tortilla shells crisp from frying in the morning's rendered bacon fat, extended with corn oil. Little bowls were filled with goodies to stuff the tacos with. One held shredded iceberg lettuce with cilantro and green onion. Another olive slices. One with finely diced Queso Fresco cheese. One with chopped tomato. And a bowl of salsa.

There was nothing extraordinary in this rainy weekend. Except it was extraordinary in how right being home, picking herbs from the garden to cook with for dinner, watching a movie with the man who married me 33 years ago, felt.
Does rain bring out the inner homebody in everyone? What "ordinary" things do you like to do that feel extraordinary?

Cilantro and oregano do well in this region. Why get in the car to drive to the store to buy some, when for about the cost of one handful, you can grow it in your own garden whenever the mood strikes? Same for green onion.

The movie The Secret Life of Bees is based on the novel by Sue Monk Kidd- available through fine booksellers everywhere.
As are the many books of Nicholas Sparks.


Anonymous said...

Just and ordinary thing to do is to go outside after dark and look at a full moon.(February 8th, March 10th, April 9th) To see that, to me, is extraordinary. Being illuminated and basking in the moon's light when it seems so close you could reach up and touch it. To recall the childhood saying about the 'man in the moon' and to wrap your brain around the shear magnificence of this creation set into motion by God. Extraordinary for sure.

Good blog, Lydia! Love your recipes too. Drooling.....
xo Oregon Sue

Anonymous said...

An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a coworker who was doing a little homework on this. And he actually bought me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this matter here on your blog.

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