Cinco de Mayo – Easy Shredded Pork for Tacos

Hola!

Whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May) or not, it’s almost always appropriate to eat Mexican food. I honestly believe I must have had a former life as a Mexican because I could eat that food three (or more) times a day.

So I look forward to Cinco de Mayo each year to give me a valid excuse for my Mexican indulgence!

Because I was usually in a hurry to eat something when I came home from a long day of teaching, or even today as a stay-at-home author, one of the easiest meals for me to make is a simple pulled pork taco from my slow cooker.

I start out with the meat from pork steaks or chops, cubed in 1-inch pieces. (You also could use beef or chicken.) Then I dump in a 24 ounce jar of either red or green salsa (any style). The “heat” depends on your taste, but mine usually goes for the hottest.

To this you can add a bit of chopped onion, garlic, or more spice. I generally toss in two or three of the tiny Thai peppers from my garden. Uh…I like spicy!

Cover and cook on low all day until you get home – eight to 10 hours.

Sometimes I put it in a bowl, top with sour cream and chopped cilantro to eat like soup. If I plan to do this, I add a can of drained corn or black beans to the pot (or both).

If I want it as a taco or tostado, then the pork is so tender you hardly have to shred it. Spoon it in or on a warmed up tortilla, add chopped lettuce, grated Mexican cheese, a dollop of sour cream, chopped cilantro, and maybe even another spoon of salsa.

I could eat a dozen of these, but I’ll try to contain myself!

These two photos were taken in the patio of Tres Hombres in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, which sadly no longer exists. That was my “go to” place for Mexican food when I was in town. Each year, if it was your birthday, they would bring out this enormous (and heavy) sombrero for you to wear. Then they sang to you and took pictures!

Hasta luego!

Celebrations!

Happy April!

This year, we have several celebrations from April 1 (April Fool’s Day) through through Easter weekend to Earth Day on April 22. There may be others but these two, plus other holy-days, are the ones we honor most of the time.

For me, the calla lily will always signify Easter. May this graceful calla lily growing out of lava represent whatever holiday you are celebrating this season. May it exemplify the simplicity you seek in your life and the purity you hope to develop in your heart.

A hui hou!

Jambalaya & Black-Eyed Peas

This week we will celebrate Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Mardi Gras. I’m not from New Orleans, but I spent enough years in the Deep South to have this celebration in my soul. Since I won’t be there to toss beads or join in the festivities on Bourbon Street this year, I plan to do something to feel like I have truly honored the day.

Usually, this dish contains ham and/or shrimp, and/or chicken, and/or sausage. The only thing I could come up with this time was one lone sausage, so that’s what I used. Fortunately, when I added about a cup of black-eyed peas leftover from New Year’s Day, I found pieces of ham.

These are the basic ingredients but just use what you have. You could find many versions of this dish online, or you can dig around in your kitchen and come up with the basic ingredients of a traditional Jambalaya. This makes enough for a couple servings.

You can add the seasoning for your own taste, but I like spicy!

My Version of Jambalaya

Into a slow cooker, I put:

  • 1 can non-fat chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 large sliced spicy sausage
  • 1 cup Jasmine Brown Rice blended with Wild Rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 diced garlic cloves
    2 diced baby bell peppers
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • A handful of chopped parsley
  • 2 broken bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (more or less to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

All of this cooked for 4-5 hours on high. The last 30 minutes, I put in the pre-cooked black-eyed peas. I think you could put it on low for 8-9 hours if you wanted to leave it all day. Any bean can be added, but somehow the black-eyed peas seemed more in keeping with New Orleans.

“Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll), as any good New Orleanian would say, until the beginning of Lent.

A hui hou!

Music From Another Era

 

One of my earliest memories was hearing my parents play and sing together. My dad played the piano, while my mother played the violin. Sometimes they sang together in performances, not just at home. I started playing piano at the early age of five, gradually adding in violin and French horn.

 

Many times I sang and played with them. I remember when I was as young as five (maybe even younger), being part of their performances. As an adult, I added even more instruments – guitar (both folk and classical), recorder, lute, organ, balakaika, koto and on and on – and I kept on singing.

 

When my brother came along, he sang along with us with, sometimes playing his trumpet or piano. A few weeks ago, my brother posted about the sheet music he has from that era. I still have some of those pieces, also.

 

In a musical family, it’s no surprise that there are piles of music all over. They take up all the storage space in my living area. Periodically I go through these stacks and reorder them according to my passion du jour.

 

This past week, while rearranging my music one more time, I pulled out old sheet music from the twenties and thirties, music my parents played and passed on to us. Sad to say that many of the covers had been torn off; I think it was to make it easier for them to keep it on a music stand while they played. I’ve made copies of those not destroyed.

 

I also have stacks of music from my teen and early adult years of the forties and fifties, as well as from the era of my hippie days in the sixties and seventies. Each of these generations of music has its own particular flavor, as you know. Maybe I’ll show covers from those eras another time.

 

My mother and my brother share January as their birthday month (Happy Birthday, bro!), and she would have had her 96th birthday this month if she had lived. Although she was quite musically talented, I believe her creativity in other areas often became stifled, not because of the era but because of the expectations required of her as a pastor’s wife. She and my dad passed their creative genes to my brother and to me. It is up to us and future generations not to let it die.

 

My hope is that my own musical children remember hearing and playing music in our home from their early years, and that they have passed it on to their children and grandchildren.


A hui hou!

Happy Birthday!


HILTON'S EGGPLANT
My brother sent this picture to share his amusement. He and I both tend to have the same weird sense of humor most times. He couldn’t resist taking this picture at the Gulfport, FL Tuesday morning market.

Today is his birthday! I send him oodles of love and hugs. No, I won’t tell you his age, but even though he’s almost eleven years younger than I am, he will always seem like my “big brother,” not my “little brother.” I look up to him in so many areas. I’ll describe just two of those.

Technology – Whenever I get stumped on a computer glitch, he comes to my rescue. He continually tells me I know more than many women my age, but next to him, I do feel like a klutz. Thank you, bro!

Music – We both started out life in a musical family where everyone played some instrument or sang well. When he was five years old, I gave him his first piano lessons. Although I am a fairly accomplished pianist and musician in my own right, he left me in the dust. He became a professor of music composition, a concert organist and pianist, and too many other areas to mention. Check out his website and listen to some of his music. (I have a sister’s right to brag!)

Happy birthday, “little” brother

from your very proud “big” sister!

A hui hou!

Mele Kalikimaka!

We may not have a White Christmas in Hawaii
(except on top of Mauna Kea where we have lots this year)
but we do have an incredible display of poinsettias!

All along the highway we find massive blooms,
some in long banks of poinsettia hedges –
others peeking out from behind trees.

As late as April,
I have seen a wayward bloom
here and there that
simply didn’t want to go away.

Wherever you are in this world,
I send you peace and joy in this wonderful holiday season.

A hui hou!
and
Mele Kalikimaka!

Season of Light

During the month of December, there are many celebrations from various cultures, faiths, and events to remember.

Many of these are linked to the winter solstice, which has been celebrated throughout history as the “rebirth of the sun.” The natural rotation of the earth was not known in earlier times, so the shortest day of the year (December 21) and the gradual lengthening of days afterward took on a meaning that has largely been forgotten.

We don’t know the exact date of the birth of Jesus, but over time, his birth was also associated with this “birth of the sun,” or many say “birth of the Son.” Early Christian celebrations were generally observed on days that were already holy days, such as the solstice, to help make the transition to Christianity.

…Shab-e yalda, the rebirth of the sun, was an ancient Iranian ceremony that reflected the basics of goodness and light against evil and darkness. (from Suite 101 – see link)

There are many other interesting days of celebration listed on that last link, including The Festival of the Wild Women!

Because I spent many years in Arizona, and Tucson in particular, one of my favorite December traditions is Las Posadas. This procession is a reenactment of the trip Mary and Joseph made from Nazareth to Bethlehem. A group dressed as angels, shepherds, and the holy couple go from house to house seeking shelter. The word posadas means “lodging” in Spanish. At each home, these “pilgrims” are served various foods, including tamales.

There are many other dates to honor during December, but three stand out for me as a special way of honoring this season of lights. They are World AIDS Day on December 1, Pearl Harbor Day on December 7, and Human Rights Day on December 10.

Mele Kalikimaka!

Thoughts for the Day

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was not only a Jesuit priest but he was well known as a palaeontologist. Among other accomplishments, he was involved in uncovering the skull of the Peking man. As someone with a mind of both the spiritual and the scientific worlds, he has inspired me in several ways.

A birthday can be a good time for reflection, so it is on this occasion I think about one of Teilhard de Chardin’s primary concepts. The way I understand it, we constantly are evolving or spiraling to a higher and higher state, which he called the Omega Point. He described it as a “transcendent centre of unification,” a convergence, rather than a divergence.

As I apply that concept to myself, I see that I have evolved over the past decades, although perhaps starting that process later than I might have wished. As he put it, in my life there was “a clear pattern of a rise of consciousness…a continual heightening, a rising tide of consciousness.”

Like his description of Time and the Universe, “in any period of ten million years Life practically grows a new skin,” I, too, have grown a new skin throughout my own quest. More than ever before I am aware of how my action or inaction affects my traveling companions, aware of the world around me and of its cyclic nature. It is my personal evolution – “a condition of all experience,” he would say.

There is another quote attributed to Teilhard de Chardin, although I’m not sure which of his books it is in. I use it as my own mantra.

“Our duty as men and women is to proceed as if limits to our ability did not exist.”

In his Hymn of the Universe, he writes “Happy the man [sic] who fails to stifle his vision.”

For the next several decades, I want to continue an upward evolution without stifling my vision!

A hui hou!

No Labor Day For All

1-machinery

We love Labor Day for giving us that last bit of summer for cookouts, beach trips, one last vacation day, and more. But not everyone gets to take off on Labor Day. You know who you are:

• medical personnel at the hospitals
• pilots taking you on your trips
• clerks in the grocery store for those few items you forgot
• farmers with animals who need care every day
• workers in any store that stays open today
• police who are always on the job
• radio and TV announcers
• and so many more . . .

It is to you who keep our world going even on holidays that I send a big MAHALO today!

A hui hou!
Lucy