Saturday, May 2, 2009

It is autumn, really, even if it doesn't feel like it

The unusually warm weather had lulled us into thinking fall wasn't really here. But driving to Sta. Rosa yesterday we saw explosions of yellow and gold everywhere...trees changing color, crops ready for harvest. It was beautiful! So in spite of the fact that it was in the 80s, we have to conclude that autumn really has arrived.

No evidence of the red hues of autumn but there were bits of orange, not in changing leaf color but in bushes with huge clusters of orange berries so heavy the branches drag the ground. Those bushes are everywhere and I've got to find out what they're called.

The scent of eucalyptus perfumed the air around the house in Sta. Rosa; even more so than usual. Realized we really need to get out there and get some yard work done, but yesterday it was just a stopping off place to fix a quick lunch. The action was all taking place at the nearby Palabra de Vida facility. May Day festivities were in full swing by the time we arrived.

Traveling home we listened to a couple episodes of The Splendid Table the hubby had downloaded to his iPod. That's one of our favorite shows on public radio. We absolutely cracked up during an interview with an older Italian lady who had written a book. At one point the lady (sorry, can't remember her name) was talking about when she initially came to the U.S. and went into a supermarket for the first time. Never in her life had she seen such a thing! Everything in it was DEAD (and you could hear the disgust in her voice). She was used to the chickens running around the courtyard until it was time to chop off their heads and prepare them for dinner. Now she was faced with coolers full of dead meat wrapped in cellophane...definitely NOT fresh!

Our generation blanches at the idea of doing our own butchering. We'll take the dead meat wrapped in cellophane, thank you very much.

But it reminded us of the time in Uganda when the hubby bought some pork from a young man who came by saying he was getting ready to butcher a pig. That's how they do it there. With no refridgeration for most Ugandans, they buy and cook their meat the same day. Anyone getting ready to butcher a cow or pig will line up his customers first, go home and butcher, then deliver the fresh meat.

Anyway...the hubby was rather horrified when the young man later delivered this chunk of meat wrapped in a banana leaf. It still had skin on portions of it, there was a thick (and I do mean THICK) layer of fat and everywhere were bits of dirt and stone, like it had been rolled in the dirt. Not exactly but close! The way they butcher is to kill the animal, lay it out on the ground (or sometimes a layer of banana leaves) and then just whack the thing to pieces. Literally. They have no concept of the anatomy of the animal and there is no rhyme or reason to the cuts of meat. Just whack, whack, whack.

So there we are, faced with this nasty, dirty piece of pig and we have no idea which portion it came from...the belly? shoulder area? behind? Absolutely no clue. Ivan ran to get another missionary wife to help us and she laughed until she cried when she saw our pathetic piece of pork. She gave us a quick tutorial on only buying meat from reputable people (the young man wasn't one of them) and then how to carve away the skin, fat and bits of bone to actually get at the meat. When it was all said and done, we had maybe half a pound of actual meat and about 4 lbs. of trimmed off nastiness.

I cooked that scrawny little piece of meat with a lot of carrots and garlic. But you know?, after seeing that meat in all its raw glory we Could.Not.Eat.It. The daughter hadn't seen it so she jumped right in with gusto, eating the meat and plenty of the carrots. We just ate carrots and kept saying, "Boy, aren't these carrots good!"

The first time we came to Argentina I ran into Sta. Rosa early one morning to do a little shopping. One of the great things here is the fresh bread. One of the worst things here is the fresh bread. It's WONDERFUL when it's fresh, hard as a rock when it's not. So you have to buy it when you need it. Therefore, I was on a bread run. But I had to slow down and edge around a delivery truck at the carnecería (meat market) and glimpsed numerous sides of beef hanging from meat hooks in the back. Ugh.

But one of the best things here is the fresh meat. Supermarkets do carry packages of meat neatly wrapped in cellophane but the carnecerías still have refridgerated sections where they go and whack off the bit of beef or pork that you want -- beef or pork that was butchered that morning and delivered fresh. At least here they know their animal anatomy and we can specify the cut. Huge step up! ☺

Pork is not as popular as beef in Argentine. Duh! But you can get it. I fixed a pork roast in the crockpot last weekend, mixed up some homemade bar-b-que sauce and thoroughly enjoyed a little taste of home. Once in a while the hubby can talk the man behind the meat counter into grinding some pork for us so I can mix up my own breakfast sausage and Italian sausage. I just form it into patties and freeze until ready to use.

Aside from the tried-and-true repertoire of recipes though, we've always enjoying trying new foods -- I'll eat almost anything once (HOWEVER, I did draw the line at grilled Python which had been dead a few days and smelled very funky). Food should be an adventure! Unfortunately along with age come digestive issues that cause us to be less adventurous than before. Although I love raw onions (especially on top a bowl of soup beans) they give me heart burn something fierce now. Have had to cut back on the spiciness in some dishes too. Sad but a fact of life.

Which means you won't be finding exotic or spicy recipes here.

I gave you the recipe for baked beans last week. Today I'm sharing my homemade bar-b-que sauce:

3/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup ketchup or hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine or cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil (optional)
1 tablespoon grated peeled gingerroot
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer about 4 minutes. Use as a condiment or brush on meat as it grills.

You can find some other yummy recipes over at Saturday Stirrings today, too, hosted by Carol.


Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Yumm! grilled python! (NOT)What a hoot!!
I marvel at your adventurous spirit and your willing obedience!
You're a better woman than me, but I love hearing all about the differences that life in the mission field bring!
You rock girl!


skoots1mom said...

pork and stones...isn't that a treat?!
hope your celebration was fun..
headed off to the shelter to serve food at lunch time.

sara said...

your pork recipe reminded me of when I was young. Someone gave my dad a live turkey as a joke. he decided we would keep it and butcher for thanksgiving. Well, we all got attached to the turkey, we named it, talked to it, etc. and when Thanksgiving came along....NONE of us could kill. so my dad gave the turkey to our mail man. A few days later he delivered a pan of turkey enchiladas to our one could eat them!! ha!

Mari said...

Your BBQ sauce looks good. I like the idea of the apricot jam in it.

rita said...

Every time Uganda shows up somewhere, I think of you all and am amazed at God's ways. Not so difficult to adjust to Argentina after Uganda.
We're putting together a world map puzzle in the classroom, when we have a minute or two. I was surprised at the Western location of Uganda...had forgotten.

skoots1mom said...

update: I bought a small book about "tshirt" quilting, so I'm going to be reading it over the next few days to get myself familiar with this technique. Have you ever made a tshirt quilt or used any tshirts with iron-on interlining to secure the fabric?
I've got multiple "softball" jerseys, youth tshirts" that I want to quilt for my girl...
hope you had a good Sunday...we've been having bad thunderstorms and rough rain over the last few hours.

Diana H said...

It's amazing how we change and our stomachs can longer eat the things we loved earlier. I like that you came up with a recipe that was delicious without upsetting your body.