But today, my friend is still in hospital, and nothing has stirred me to action, so it's back to the food. Although if you haven't read my last post, please do...
There's a bit in one of the Wind in the Willows stories which talks about it being a 'golden afternoon' - late summer is the season, and if memory serves me correctly, it's when Toad has encouraged Ratty and Mole to join him in a gypsy caravan, before the onset of the motor car. Well, it's only March, but the weather has been golden over the last few days here on the West Wales coast. The tide has been low in the mornings, so my day has started with a good dose of beach, and the kids even braved the sea after school a couple of days ago.
After my jaunt to Aberporth with Fred this morning, I stopped off at the farm shop which is just off the main A487 coast road at Tanygroes (if you were interested). Down a little lane is the Golwg y Mor Farm Fresh Meats shop, and if you are in the area for any reason, like a holiday, or because you live here, it's well worth a visit. The meat is fabulous, and the company friendly and chatty. It's one of the things I really love about living here. People have the time to chat, to pass the time of day. On the downside, it makes work avoidance far too easy - I was struggling to leave the beach in the first place, and I ended up delaying the inevitable enforced time in front of the lap top by at least another 20 minutes chatting about this and that...
The conversation this morning turned to the fact that people have been slow cooking pork for years - the Rayburn being a perfect medium to bung in the joint and forget about it all day - but that all of a sudden it's 'the new thing'. He was saying he gets people coming in asking for meat to make 'pulled pork' as if it's the latest thing. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall et al have a lot to answer for - but in a good way, because if they have opened up the eyes of the cooking public to the beauty that is slow roast meat, that can only be a good thing.
I was, myself, in there for something to slow roast. A piece of pork to whack in the oven when I got home, and leave all day, delicious smells permeating the house, and meaning that when dinner time came, I simply had to knock up some veggies and do some gravy. Veg box day yesterday produced lovely chard, carrots and celeriac, amongst other things. Simply steamed the first two, and made mash with the third - perfect accompaniments.
Speaking of unoriginal drivel about food, I know there are a million recipes for slow roast pork on the internet, and there may even be a version of this somewhere on this blog, but it's so good, and so easy that I thought it was worth posting again.
Slow roast Pork Shoulder (or whatever, it doesn't have to be shoulder)
! piece of pork - about 2 kg
a little oil to grease your roasting tin, plus 1 tbsp
1 medium onion
some sprigs of thyme
2 tbsp fennel seed
zest of a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
a good pinch of sea salt
A large wine glass of white wine & water (or all water if you don't have any white wine left over from the previous night)
Pre-heat the oven to 220C
Grease a smallish roasting tin - it needs to be big enough to take the pork, but not so big that the liquid evaporates during the long cooking . Peel the onion, slice it and lay slices over the base of the tin, and chuck on a couple of the thyme stalks.
Pick off the leaves of the rest of the thyme stalks and add to a pestle & mortar (or whatever you use) with the fennel seed, lemon zest and garlic.
Bash all this together with some sea salt and mix in the tbsp of oil, then lay the pork on the onions and smear all over with this rub/paste.
Put the whole lot in the oven and cook at the high temperature for 20-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn the heat down to around 110C. Tip the wine/water into the tin and cover the roasting tin snugly with foil. Return the tin to the oven and cook for as long as you need - I left mine in for about 7 hours before doing anything to it.
About 1 hr before you want to eat, remove the pork from the oven and turn the heat back up. Remove the foil and retun the pork to the oven to crisp up the crackling. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn - and cook for about 45 minutes.
Once the crackling is done, leave the meat to rest for 15 minutes or so, then remove the crackling and divide it into equal sized pieces (once you've checked that it's properly crispy and delicious of course), and pull the meat apart to serve.