Ah. Another three-day weekend. Another realization that if we had 3-day weekends once a month, we’d all be better for it. I’ve been thinking a lot about time and energy and where we spend it throughout our jam-packed weeks. There’s something to this 3-day weekend thing. As we approach the presidential election, I’m focusing on ANY candidate that declares our country is ready to explore 3-day weekends once a month from here on out. For everyone! Universal 3-day weekends. No matter what.
Obviously, it’s not just ANY 3-day weekend. Today, we honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which is a big deal in our household. When we were deciding to name our kiddo, Martin Everitt, Dr. Martin Luther King was a huge inspiration for us. It just so happened “Martin” was also an important name on my Mom’s side of the family (in fact, my middle name is Martin). Last week, Martin Everitt informed us that he announced to his entire 2nd grade class that he was named after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so I’m thankful today that my kid knows the importance of his name and all that it stands for.
With everyone home today, I have the space to do what clears my head the most: Cook.
On the menu: Homesick Texan’s Houston-Style Carnitas, Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup with Sausage, and One-Bowl Buttermilk Pancakes. Let’s do this.
First up, Homesick Texan’s Houston-Style Carnitas with full recipe linked here. These are my favorite carnitas on the planet. I’ve tried them in the Instant Pot and they were great, but there’s something about the way this cooks down on the stove that I like the best. You start off with a 3-lb Boston Butt with PLENTY of fat. In this recipe, FAT is the key. I try to cut the meat in 2-inch cubes while strategically keeping as much fat on each cube. Then you add to a pot (I highly suggest something like a Le Creuset or heavy-bottomed pan). Pour 1 cup of orange juice, 3 cups of water, and 2 tsp of salt over the meat. Bring to a boil and then turn to simmer and cook for at least two hours. After the two hours are up, crank up the heat and let the water and juice evaporate. So here’s where it gets weird (at least for me). It takes a good 45 minutes for it to boil down. You are going to think, “Is this right? This is kind of gross. Is it ready? Am I doing this right?” Just be patient. I promise it ends up perfect. You want to get it to a place where it’s starting to stick to the bottom, then you scrape up all that crust and do it OVER and OVER again. Until it looks like this:
When it’s ready, you honestly do not need anything else on it. I could eat it straight out of the pot. But if you want to dress it up, you can add carnitas to a flour tortilla, squeeze some lime, add some sour cream or avocado, and ENJOY. I promise you will never need another carnitas recipe after you do this one.
Next Up: Pressure Cooker Lentil Soup with Sausage
Okay, normally I prep as I go but in this case, I decided to prep EVERYTHING ahead of time. Remember that 3-day weekend thing I mentioned earlier? Extra time helps in the recipe department. Anyway, here’s everything prepped and ready to go:
Waaaaaay back last week (when we didn’t have three days to plan and live our lives), I forgot to harvest the kale and collards from Jones Valley Teaching Farm that I wanted to use in this recipe. HOWEVER, I remembered the half-used bag of Brussels sprouts just sitting in my fridge. Waaaaaaaay back last week, I had plans to come home and shave them, toss them with toasted walnuts, pecorino, and a pancetta vinaigrette. Did that happen? Nope. There they were all week just staring at me. As I was prepping this morning and feeling guilty about the Brussels sprouts, I decided to get rid of the guilt and just slice them very thin and pretend they are the kale and collards I forgot to harvest.
Bye Bye Bye Guilt.
Here is the final product with the Brussels sprouts, fresh basil, and parmesan cheese (also meant for that fancy Brussels sprouts dish I never got to).
Last recipe: Alexandra’s Kitchen’s One-Bowl Buttermilk Pancakes.
Listen, I am not ashamed to say this: My kids love those Eggo mini pancake thingies. I love them too because in 30 seconds flat the kids are happy. But, when you have a 3-day weekend (I sense a theme happening here, don’t you?), you can make them from scratch. Will the kids prefer the mini-Eggo ones? Yes, they will. Do you let that bother you? No. Not at all. You stand WITH CONFIDENCE that they will one day understand and appreciate HOMEMADE pancakes. One day. They will. This is what I tell myself at least.
I’ve cooked many pancakes in my life. I’m not even a big fan of pancakes, but when I was pregnant with both children, I made pancakes every weekend. I tried different recipes each weekend. Did I get gestational diabetes both times? That would be a big, fat YES, but why focus on that unfortunate part of the story?
When I tell you I’ve had every kind of pancake imaginable, it’s kind of true: Cornmeal pancakes, Egg-Whites-Whipped-In pancakes, Buttermilk pancakes, Cake-Flour pancakes, Cinnamon pancakes. All. Of. The. Pancakes. But these pancakes? The ones you’ll see below? I think they are my favorite. For real. Are they floating in butter? Yes. Does that matter? Of course not. Just eat two instead of five.
And now, for the process shots:
So there you have it. To summarize:
3-Day weekends (especially if honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.) = The Best.
Homesick Texan’s Houston-Style Carnitas = The Best.
Improvising + Removing Guilt (plus getting a really delicious soup in the end) = The Best.
One-Bowl Buttermilk Pancakes = The Best.
Have a great rest of your week,