The Garden is Back

I don’t even know how long it’s been since my last post, but I am happy to announce that I am ready to pick up where I left off.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult. After a 15 year battle with brain cancer, I lost my father on August 31, 2010. My dad had been in and out of the hospital since February, when we learned that his cancer was back. He underwent lengthy treatments, physiotherapy and attempts at rehabilitation. His last few months were spent in palliative care at Bridgepoint Health. Being just a few minutes away, my visits were very frequent.  It gave me so much joy bringing him home-cooked food, his favourite chocolate and pictures that made him smile. He was the most courageous, giving, thoughtful and sincere person I have ever known. His strength and passion for life, no matter how limited, is something that I will never forget. There isn’t one day that has gone by that I don’t think about him. I really miss him, but know that he is finally free. Thank you to all of my beautiful friends and family for being so supportive.

Cooking has always been my go-to hobby of choice. It helps me relax, keeps me busy and is my way of being creative. I owe much of my passion for food to my dad. He cooked a lot and was pretty good at it. He didn’t complain when I started taking over the family kitchen. He did, however, give me hard time about keeping it clean. He was also a great dishwasher.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that Sunday is my favourite day to cook and today was no exception. I scored an incredible deal on a pork loin big enough to feed a party of 12 for less than ten bucks at the grocery store…perfect for braised tacos. We’re huge fans of Chipotles and I think I did a pretty darn good job replicating their pork carnitas. Braising meat is incredibly simple, you just need time. That’s why doing it on a Sunday is perfect! We’ll also have enough leftovers for lunch (probably until Friday).

Rub Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp chili
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Mix all of these spices up in a bowl and rub it into the pork. I like to cut the pork into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process a bit. This also creates more surface area for the rub. I also cut off much as much excess fat as I can. A little is ok, but I don’t like my braised meat too fatty. This is also a great technique to use with pork shoulder.

For extra flavor, slit the pork in various locations and stuff these slits with chopped garlic and ginger (2 cloves garlic and 1 tbsp ginger is plenty).

Place the coated pieces of meat in a casserole dish and cook uncovered in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes (do not add any liquid or anything else to the casserole during this step). This initial cooking time creates a bit of a crust on the pork before the braising step, as well as a ton of extra flavour.

After 45 minutes, add water to the casserole to fill the dish about 1/3 of the way to the top. I like to add a little bit of beef OR chicken soup base to the water for extra flavour, but this isn’t necessary. Cover the casserole with foil and cook in a 325 oven for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, the meat should fall apart at the touch. Pull it all apart using two forks and top your taco the way you like it! Today, I made coleslaw for extra crunch.

Here’s one of my favourite pictures of my dad and I, summer camping as a kid

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4 Responses to “The Garden is Back”

  1. Kelly Armstrong Says:

    so excited about this… I secretly hoped that you would start it up again!
    xo

  2. Tanya Black Says:

    I just went to the most amazingly authentic Mexican place last week, and have been craving it for days…. this would definitely satisfy the craving! Gotta give this a try 🙂

    xoxox

  3. iveb Says:

    Thanks guys xx

  4. Suelynn Says:

    SOOOO glad you’re back to posting – I’ve missed seeing your culinary creations! Been thinking about you and about how much you must be missing your dad, I am so sorry for your loss but so happy that you had such an amazing relationship and life with him. Love ya!

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