An Apple a Day…In Any Form…Is a Good Thing in Life

Thanksgiving.  What a great holiday.  Yeah, I know it took place a few weeks back…but I have been a little busy lately.  You know, making a list.  Checking it twice.  The usual “life” stuff.

I really look forward to Thanksgiving each year.  It is kind of like the kick-off to a 6 week long Super Bowl party.  It announces the Christmas season.  (Even though department stores and Hallmark may disagree with me.)   And suddenly, it is off and running.  The beginning of parties, shopping, decorating, giving and hopefully enjoying the wonders of life in a special kind of way.  (Okay, okay, I know some people do not look forward to all of these things…but I do.  We have already established that I am a little unconventional.)

This year was filled with extra pleasures and fun for us.  Yvonne and Blake came in from Norway to visit for a couple of weeks over the Thanksgiving holiday…even though Blake thought there was another holiday to be celebrated…his 30th birthday.  So we also had a little “Christmas celebration” complete with “Christmas morning” and pictures with Santa.

 

 

 

 

 

We had the usual family get together Thanksgiving Day at Peter’s.  It was perfect as usual, with Pete and Jean being fabulous hosts.  They bent over backwards to accommodate a large group of hungry people…and I should say thirsty also.  The night always culminates when the “men” all go outside on the porch, with a drink and a cigar.  The usual topics come up…and I should  just say “nothing is sacred” and “there is no stone unturned”.  Almost everything and everyone is fair game…and I will leave the rest to your imagination.

 

Typically on the Friday or Saturday following Turkey Day, we have some friends and family over for a “post-Turkey Day” dinner.   Sometime we will serve up another version of Turkey, such as a Southwestern version complete with cranberries and jalapenos.  But this year we took a bit of a different direction.  A little more casual, but just as fantastic none the less.  We had a host of sides, as always.  But this year we had a Coffee Braised beef brisket and an Apple smoked pork shoulder, with buns if anyone wanted a sammich.  Additionally we had a Sweet Potato Chowder.  Perfect.  It was a wonderful way to celebrate a kick-off of the season with friends and family…

…but it doesn’t end there.  After a big meal, to avoid everyone taking a nap and to keep us from receiving a citation from the county police for disturbing the peace (with all of the snoring that would have taken place) we broke out the Wii and the new game, Just Dance.  It is a blast.  Just what is needed to work off those extra few calories obtained, in favor and flavor of course, over the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if that wasn’t enough, while we were trying to catch our breath after all of the dancing, and in some cases “prancing”, we dusted off an ole reliable…Scattergories.  Now this is the quintessential group game after a bit of alcohol has been consumed…and it was consumed.  I won’t go into details, actually they are tough to remember any way, but during the course of the game a lot of imagination, creativity and negotiation are used, and used up.   Always a lot of fun with friends.

Speaking of friends…many will be visiting their houses for parties this year, or maybe just looking for a little something to take over as a little gift.  Here is just the thing…maybe.  Apple Pie.  Not that apple pie.  The liquid kind is what I am talking about.  I made some and have already given away four bottles.  Pier One and Potterybarn both have “festive holiday bottle” decorations you can adorn a bottle of this with and give as a great gift.  The recipe is really simple, and you can adjust it to your desired level of “sweetness”.  Here is what I did to make it…and this is not an original recipe.  A friend/neighbor told me about this earlier this year.  Plus you can Google it and come up with all kinds of variations.  But…here is mine:

APPLE PIE DRINK

The recipe is simple.  Mix together

  1. A gallon of Apple juice
  2. A gallon of Apple cider (there are a lot of different types on the market, spiced, unsweetened, organic,etc.  Just use one that you thin you may enjoy)
  3. 3-3.5 cups of brown sugar (more or less to your taste)
  4. 6-7 whole cinnamon sticks.
  5. Put in a large pot and bring to a boil on the stove.  If you don’t have a pot this large, just half the recipe and repeat if desired.  Then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes or so.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool.  Once cooled, add a bottle of Everclear alcohol.  Yes, that’s right, Everclear.  It adds just the right amount of an edge to the sweetness of the drink and is great to sip.  Really does taste like Apple Pie.

I know I mentioned the pork and beef we also had that day.  Here is what I did with the pork shoulder:

Smoked and Braised Pork Shoulder

  1. The night before you plan on cooking, take about a 4lb pork shoulder, or pork butt, and rub a mixture of your favorite seasonings all over it to create a dry rub.  I like to use cumin, black pepper, sea salt, chili powder, garlic, brown sugar,a little cinnamon and perhaps onion powder.  Be generous and then wrap it in saran wrap and put in the fridge.
  2. The next day, prepare your grill with the coals to one side.  I use indirect heat for this, except for the searing.  While the coals are heating up, soak some wood chips in a pan or bowl for about 20 – 30 minutes.  Be sure to soak plenty so you will have extra as needed.
  3. Once the fire is hot, sear the pork on all sides, making sure it does not get too burned.
  4. Once the pork is seared, now placed the soaked wood chips on the hot coals.  On the opposite side of the grill, indirect heat, I placed a large aluminum pan filled with apple juice and the pork butt.  I also cut up some garlic, apples and onions to go in the liquid. (the amount you cut up is depending on how big a pan you have).  I loosely cover the pork with a piece of foil and shut the lid.
  5. About this time I light up a cigar and make sure the outdoor fire pit is stoked.  I also realized how good a Manhattan would taste about now.  So I made one.
  6. I continue to check on the coals and wood chips once in a while.  And after about two hours, I flipped the pork on the opposite side in the liquid.  I let it continue to cook for about a total of 3.5 hours or so.  A lot depends upon your fire, the cold outside weather, and how many Manhattans you have.
  7. After you remove the pork from the heat and let cool, you should be able to allow it to just fall apart, or you can help by pulling and separating the meat from the fatty pieces.
  8. Take the apples and onion that was in the liquid with the pork and place in a blender.  Add another apple and about a third of the braising liquid and puree.  Pour into a pan. Mix a little flour with a cup of the remaining liquid and pour into the pan with the puree.  Simmer over a low heat and this can be used as a sauce with the pork.

Wow, that is a lot of apples.  But it sure hits the spot.  Both the pork and the drink.

So let’s be thankful many times this year.  Let’s celebrate “thanksgiving” each day as we are thankful for everything we have.  This includes friends, family, health, prosperity and … apples.

I am blessed with a wonderful and loving family, friends, health and prosperity.  Wow, am I lucky or what?!?!?!

 

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Published in: on December 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I’m grateful for you because of this excellent content material. You genuinely did make my day :

    Like


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