Today I’m making a big ole batch of my brother’s pulled pork recipe*, more or less. I like to thin down the BBQ sauce with red wine and add some chili powder or cumin and a clove of garlic, but the process is identical: put it in a pot, clap on the lid, and go to the beach for the whole day go about your business while the pork turns into a delicious tangle of tender meat.

The Fella left the house before it started wafting its enticing aroma out of the oven, which means I am the only one who gets to walk around for the next two hours saying, “Hey, what smells like pork butt?”

*My brother’s old blog is now defunct, so I’ll reproduce the recipe here:

beach-day pulled pork

Buy around ten pounds of pork shoulder or pork butt. You’ll be tempted to buy less, but don’t. It will all get eaten, every scrap, and then you’ll wish you’d made 20 pounds.

Also buy the best barbeque sauce you can get your hands on.

In a heavy casserole with a tight-fitting lid, pour the barbeque sauce over the pork.

There, that’s it. Now cook it.

No, really: that’s it. You can gussy it up by adding oregano or chiles or garlic or chili powder or buy cutting the BBQ sauce with red wine or sherry — and I have done all of that, sometimes all at once, and it’s all excellent. But if you do nothing but pour storebought sauce over meat and add several hours of slooooow cooking, then serve the meat and sauce on buns or tortillas, you’ll have a great meal.

Put on the lid, pop the casserole in a 250-275ºF oven, and leave it pretty well alone for at least six hours; large cuts may need as much as 9 hours. Halfway through, I turn the meat once so all sides get moist and coated in sauce, but I don’t know that it’s necessary (and once when I had a badly bandaged hand, I skipped this step; everything worked out fine.) You’ll know the meat is done when you nudge it with a fork and the pork butt starts to slide into delicious strands and bites.

I usually cook this overnight, leaving the oven low and periodically waking up to think “What smells like pork butt?” In the morning, I remove the meat to a Tupperware container, shred it, and pop it in the fridge. Then I pour the sauce into a jar or narrow-necked bowl and chill it so the fat can be scraped off. The meat and sauce reheat beautifully on the stovetop, at low heat in the oven, or in the microwave.

Thanksgiving at home

It’s official: this year, The Fella and I are celebrating Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us. We’re having a modest vegetarian feast, and because many omnivores wonder what the hell to serve to vegetarians at traditional holiday meals, I thought I’d outline our menu here. Continue reading

bacon bandage

bacon bandageFrom the Historic American Cookbook Project at Michigan State University Libraries, here’s an excerpt from Aunt Babette’s Cook Book: Foreign and domestic receipts for the household (published c. 1889) instructing the reader how to fashion a bacon bandage as a treatment for sore throat:

Cut the bacon in strips one quarter of an inch in thickness and two or three inches in width and long enough to pass entirely around the throat. Remove the bacon rind and any lean meat there may be in it to prevent blistering of the throat or neck. Sew the bacon to a strip of flannel so as to hold it into position and prevent its slipping and then apply the bacon to the throat and neck. Pin it around the neck, so that it will not be uncomfortably tight. The throat and neck should be completely swathed with the bacon. If after an application of eight hours the patient is not better apply a new bandage in the same manner.

I particularly like “the throat and neck should be completely swathed with bacon.” This seems more like a sound brunch-time policy rather than a health concern, though.


Some time ago, my mother lamented the depletion of her jar of sweet-sour cippolini, which she’d brought back from a trip to (Italy? Slovenia? somewhere). After scouring the local shops of my small city to no avail, I took a critical tasting and a casual (and no-doubt inaccurate) translation from the original jar and thought “Gee, I wonder if I can make these?”
Turns out I can, and so can you.

Continue reading