After two weekends in a row hosting parties at our house (and all the fretting and prepping and feverish house-cleaning that it entails), I needed a few days’ recovery to revel in inactivity. This quickly descends into crippling laziness, as is its wont, until I just sit my ass down and at least download the photos off my camera. First hurdle cleared.
This year was different. First off, I’m pregnant, and that makes me heavy, slow and quick to tire. Also, we wanted to do two smaller pigs this year instead of a 100lb sow, for ease and timeliness of cooking – we ended up with two 40lb roasters. The main factor, though, was definitely the pregnancy and its function of shifting my priorities quickly. Do I really need to get ham and cheese and make extra pickles in case someone wants a Cubano, requiring yet another run to the store and a reshuffling of the contents of the fridge? Ehhhh.
After we picked up the pigs, Scott’s bro and I needed to figure out where to keep them for awhile. The chest freezer that we used last year was pretty much shot (sitting in a driveway throughout a Portland winter will do that to an electric appliance) and had been carted off by the 1-800-Got-Junk guys along with an old door a few months back. So we just placed them in the bathtub for an hour or so (they were still partially frozen) until I could send Scott to the hardware store for a couple of plastic garbage cans, which we filled with ice.
Last year, I made a sticky-sweet-hot gochujang barbecue sauce to rub into the cavity of the pig, and slashed the skin on the hams to apply some dry rub. This year, I made a huge jar of the dry rub (homemade Berbere spice with salt, mustard powder, paprika and ancho chile powder) and smeared it into the interior, then sprinkled some parsley flowers and fresh coriander berries (the seeds that were still juicy and green). I used the branches of parsley and coriander to hold the pigs’ mouths open – I don’t know what function it serves, but it seemed like the thing to do.
Joe and Shin hoisted the piggies onto the warm grill and we covered them with foil to keep the heat in and the flies off. This year, we had much better control of the heat (and didn’t use three bags of mesquite right off the bat). I tossed some green quince branches onto the coals for some sweet smoke and got to work in the kitchen.
I did end up overdoing it again somewhat, and that’s another change I’ll make next year – people don’t really care about having banh mi or tacos when they have the option of eating hot pork sliced directly from the beast. However, the roasted corn-mango salsa was delicious in its own right and was heartily devoured with tortilla chips. The pasta salad is a cookout stand-by, as are the plate of crudites (not pictured) and baked beans (not pictured; Norm provided these and they were moist and delicious). Tammy brought a yummy sesame-y Asian noodle salad, and Susan brought platter upon platter of desserts, including some wonderful cherry petit fours and a plate of Buckeyes (a chocolate-covered peanut butter confection that Ohioans eat).
Since it was raining most of the day, I was afraid to use my camera outdoors where photography really sings. Indoors, the photos were harder to come by because of the crowded conditions and poor lighting. Regardless, I took one of one of the cocktails that I made: strawberry lemonade with rhubarb Dry Soda. Dry Soda is a discovery I made when I first learned I was pregnant and needed a replacement for cocktails and wine. It’s not too sweet (only 50 calories per bottle but not artificially sweetened) and it comes in fancy flavors like juniper berry, vanilla and lavender. They’re also based in Seattle so I can support a NW-based small business. I used the rhubarb, lemongrass and kumquat sodas to craft some family-friendly cocktails: sweet tea with kumquat, limeade with lemongrass and coconut milk and the aforementioned rhubarb-strawberry lemonade. Dry Soda people, if you’re reading, you can totally steal these ideas.
Speaking of Seattle, Brooke and Brittany came all the way down from Seattle to say hi. Tragedy struck when they had to turn around and drive home before the pigs were ready – they had a father’s day engagement the following day that was to begin traumatically early for a Sunday morning (8:00am – gasp!). It was so nice to see them, though – they’re so pretty and hilarious. Brittany totally isn’t dead, btw, she is just finding herself in a similar “I’m too busy for this shit and none of you sons of bitches gonna guilt me into it” situation in which I’ve been finding myself lately.
It was great to see so many old friends and catch up, even if it meant I had to flit from friend to friend like some socially-retarded hummingbird and perform half-assed hostessing. Scott drank about 30 beers over the course of the day, and spent his first (unofficial) father’s day sick in bed until 5:00pm. Next year, we’ll stick with one little 60lb fella, we won’t do any of the extra banh mi/Carnitas/Cubanos fixins, I’ll have my prep done days in advance (making about half the volume of sides that I usually make), and I will be able to have a drink.