February 24, 2012

Smells like spring in Houston

I have lived in Houston (more or less) since July 1980 (5 of those 32 years were elsewhere) and nothing makes me think of spring more than the smell of Carolina Jasmine:

When I first moved down here I lived in some apartments just outside the northwest corner of the loop. (3700 Watonga, if you must know) I was on the second story, and the apartment had Carolina Jasmine climbing up the stairs. When spring broke in 1981, the scent of this yellow flower was overpowering, new to me, and wonderful.

In subsequent places in Houston where I have lived, there was always Carolina Jasmine nearby. (I also like Confederate Jasmine, but it is not nearly as evocative to me.) Every whiff of the sweet scent sends me back in time.

At our place here in The Montrose we have planted several citrus trees:

This is a lemon tree, and indeed the lemon flower is sweet. You can't walk past these without feeling good.

These are lime trees. These, too, make you happy.

I love springtime here. The things to can smell as you walk down the street are always interesting.
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February 12, 2012

Pork Rib Roast

Doreen gave me a copy of Thomas Keller's new cookbook Bouchon for Christmas. One of the recipes we had been wanting to try was a Pork Rib Roast. It looked delicious and realtively simple, so we had some friends coming over for dinner last night and decided that we might as well experiment on them.

I have never seen a pork rib roast in the butcher case, so I was not sure what to expect. Doreen, though, promised to get the food. I was, gladly, off the hook!

But, as fate would have it, and as you all know, sometimes people get tied up. As Doreen got tied up Friday night. SO she called me up and asked me to get the pork.

Luckily, there is a Whole Foods on my way home, and so I (ahem) gladly stopped by to see if I could find the meat.

I got to the meat counter and asked the first butcher about a pork rib roast. He didn't know anything about it, but the head butcher did. I had to wait a couple of minutes for him to help someone else (by the way, French kids can be bad, too), but then he quickly came to me.

I explained what I needed (a four pound pork rib roast) and he went into the back, and returned with a half a hog! Yipes. But I was able to watch him cut, carve, clean, and french this side of pork into a beautifully presented pork roast:

Man does not live by pork alone, of course, so we started with Tuscan White Bean soup from Cook's Illustrated. Here is Doreen, waiting for the pot to boil:

That is really a great recipe. A little fussy, but worth it. (Some of the Cook's recipe's are fussy, and not worth it)

Along with the soup and pork, we made boiled new potatoes and hashed Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Zest. Oh yes, very nice.

The pork had to be brined with salt water, garlic, parsely, thyme, pepper, honey, bay leaves overnight. The next day you bring it up to room temperature, brown it, and then roast it at 325 for about 40 minutes (Keller says 30 minutes, but the meat was only up to about 100 degrees at that point. Another tem minutes or so took care of that)

Here is what the pork looked like after it was cooked:

And of course, we had to have Dan's Famous Apple Pie for dessert:

We had a bottle of Champagne to start, and some Ayres' Ribbon Hill Oregon Pinot Noir with the meat.

We had a great meal, and of course, great conversation.
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