Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pulled pork and gardening - warning, photo-heavy post ahead

A few years ago, some of you may remember, I started spending my Saturday mornings working in an organic garden run by the local community college.  I really enjoyed it but when struggling with the bad work situation and the depression I fell into at that time, I stopped going.  In fact, that was only a month or so after I actually managed to remember to bring a camera with me and took some photos.  Late last year, I wrote them an email to apologise and explain my absence and to say that I hoped I would be able to start again this year.  All of a sudden it seems, it's nearly the end of June and I still hadn't found the right time to go back.  A week or so ago I bumped into one of the guys from the garden on the tram and he mentioned that today was a kind of open house day.  I thought that would be a good time to just pop in and say hello - ease myself into  it, so to speak.  So I did.  The weather isn't fantastic today and there weren't a lot of people around - just two or three from the garden itself and the rest visitors.  That suited me fine actually as a couple of minutes after I arrived I came over all emotional so it was nice to have a few minutes anonymous quiet sitting underneath the quince tree.  I did see one woman shortly afterwards who I was quite friendly with then and she remembered me and it was nice to catch up a bit.  I've said I'll go to join the "Arbeitskreis" (work circle) next Saturday and think I'll just try and do it once a month at first.  No point in letting myself get overwhelmed again.  It's taking me a long, long time to get back to doing all the things I used to do but I don't want to start anything and burn myself out within a couple of months either.

It was wonderful to spend a bit of time wandering through the garden and sitting by the pond listening to the frogs, though.  I took loads of photos but will just post a few here for now.  I didn't think to look at the ones I took in January 2011 before I left so I don't have exact positions but if you look at those old ones compared to know, you can see what a difference a few months can make (okay, a few years, but it would have looked very similar in January of this year I'm sure).
This apple tree (Goldparmäne) is the one you can see in the distance in the first picture of that old post
This is more or less the reverse of one of those old photos, instead of from the pavilion towards the pond, I took this from the pond looking towards the pavilion
In the third photo on that old post you can see these beds from the other side, completely bare - now there are carrots and leeks nearly about to break out of the coverings.  The tomato bed (with the plastic "roof") is in the background
Here's a close-up of the tomato bed.  The tomatoes are trained up along these metal  pole type things.  Later in the summer, pieces of rope will be tied to the tops of those poles and strung up to the "roof" to provide higher up support for the plants.  Normally there are basil plants among the tomatoes as well - I assume they'll be planted out soon.

And finally, some feverfew (called Mutterkraut or mother herb in German) - it's gone rampant in the garden this year and has self-seeded all over the place

After leaving the garden I took a short walk through the park but was getting very hungry so I came home to see how the pork was getting on in the slow cooker.  This morning, I fried up some onions and garlic, added them to the slow cooker with the meat and then heated up a jar of tomatoes, about 250ml white wine vinegar, a good splash of worcestershire sauce and some of last year's runny tomato ketchup.  Once I poured that in with the meat and onions, it looked like this.

And after cooking on high for two hours, then realising it still wasn't going to be ready before I had to leave and turning it down to low for another four hours, I came back to heavenly smells and this:

I didn't think to put the meat into the same bowl as yesterday for a size comparison, nor to weigh it, but this plate is just about the same size as the top of that white bowl (in fact I use one of these plates upside-down to cover that bowl if necessary).  You can see it's a bit smaller than yesterday, with the bones sticking out now


So then I "pulled" the pork, and removed the bones and very fatty bits.  There was what felt like a lot of fat but really, it wasn't that much.  I did weigh the bits I removed (in the bowl at the back of this next picture) and it was just about 175g, so getting a 1.2kg to end up with 1kg of meat was pretty good going.
I was supposed to be making myself a nice dinner with some rice and veg, too, but I was just too ravenous by the time I got home, since I ended up having a late breakfast and therefore no lunch.  So it was some of the lovely Greek country bread (i.e. with small chili peppers and feta baked into it) that I got yesterday with just a scraping of butter and a big pile of meat.  Delicious.  Although I have to admit not quite as delicious as the last time.  The addition of the tomatoes meant a lot more liquid so that the meat was more stewed than braised but mostly also meant that it's far less spicy, something the different vinegar undoubtedly contributed to.  So, it's delicious and I enjoy every bit of it over the next week but it's turned out very differently than last time.  I wonder how much the overnight instead of just a couple of hours resting of the meat in the spice rub had to do with it - must look that up.

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