Happy Memorial Day – hope you’ve had a nice long weekend!
These past few days have felt extra looooong, for whatever reason, but hey – I am not complaining.
My Mom and I kicked the weekend off with a trip to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, natch, but made the rookie mistake of sleeping in an extra 30 minutes and suffered by having to navigate through curb-to-curb crowds when we finally got there. It was madness, I tell you!
We killed two birds with one stone though, and sought safe haven in the pupusa line off a less crowded side street. Room to breathe, AND our favorite farmers’ market treat.
I saved up my appetite on Friday night so I would be extra hungry for this puppy Saturday morning. It served me well, ’cause the outsides of the hand-pressed corn tortillas stuffed with fresh spinach and cheese were extra crispy, and extra satisfying. I am seriously drooling at the memory of it all!
Note to self: Get your @$$ out of bed next week!
Ben and I sought a more serene Sunday so, after sleeping in, we hopped in the car and headed to the country.
Destination: Ledges State Park!
Ledges is about 40 minutes north of where we live, and is named for the sandstone “ledges” that line the stream bed that runs through the entire park. My family and I used to come every fall to hike and take in the gorgeous foliage, but I bet it’s been at least 15 years since we were last here. I was happy to take a trip down memory lane!
In addition to the cool stream, fed from the nearby Des Moines River, there is over 13 miles of hiking trails spread throughout the park.
Ben and I parked the car, picked a trail, and started climbing!
I love how quiet the forest is, save for the rustling leaves, and chirping birds. It’s so peaceful.
The first trail we picked popped us out at a scenic viewing spot called The Crows Nest. You could see all the way to the Des Moines River on the far end of the park.
Which is where our trail unloaded us about 20 minutes later!
The river feeds the stream I mentioned, so we channeled our inner 3rd graders, and creek walked our way back to the car.
It’s fun to play.
Hooray for summer!
Later that evening, Ben and I walked over to my parent’s house for an epic BBQ. My Mom had been baking baby back ribs all day, which she served with grilled veggies, fresh watermelon, and barley-corn salad.
Dessert was out of control though – ice cream sandwiches layered with cool whip, toffee bits and caramel sauce. BAHAHAHAHAHA!
It was the perfect, delicious way to end our fun day.
Now, if yesterday was good, today was GREAT- according to Ben, anyways. That’s ’cause he spent the entire day smoking meat. His favorite extra curricular activity!
You could not wipe the perma-grin off that man’s face if you tried!
The meat in question is a 9lb – NINE POUND – pork butt. Did you know the pork butt is actually the bone-in shoulder cut of a pig?
I recently found this out after Ben gave all the body parts I usually want rubbed – feet, calves, back, and shoulders – corresponding meat cut names – hooves, veal chop, spare ribs, and, of course, pork butt. WE ARE SO WEIRD.
Anyways, after seasoning his 9lbs of pork with a homemade seasoning blend, he fired up the smoker and tossed in a combo of hickory and cherry wood chips.
This is what gives the meat its incredible flavah (and makes our entire neighborhood reek of smoke!)
While the pork smoked, we hung out in the beautiful sunshine.
A cold brewskie in hand for him…
and iced green tea for her.
Yeah, I am newly obsessed with green tea. It is so good, and so good for you!
I picked up a box of organic green tea at Trader Joe’s, and have been enjoying it lightly sweetened with powdered stevia, and poured over ice.
This afternoon I even put a big mason jar of tea bags and water out in the sun to make green sun tea. My Mom always had a big sun tea jar going in the summer!
ANYWAYS – back to the pig. After three hours in the smoker, the pork butt had a glorious, orange-hued crust on the outside. Ben was practically galloping through the neighborhood with joy.
We invited my parents over to help make a dent in the thing, so he finished cooking it in the oven with a few pats of butter, a sprinkle of brown sugar, and a couple inches of apple juice in the bottom of a sheet pan, to provide even more yummy flavor.
After a few more hours, and a final quick broil, zee pork butt was ready!
The bark on this stuff was spectacular, and it was soooo tender!
After the pork rested for about 10 minutes, we chopped it up and piled it onto soft & squishy fresh buns.
A couple other dishes helped round out the meal.
Grandpa’s Pasta Salad (made with rings instead of fettuccine, and sans pepperoni,)
and Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans jazzed up with some crushed pineapple and ketchup.
Holy buckets, I could not be more stuffed, or satisfied, right now!
And with that, I’m off to go enjoy the last remaining hours of this long weekend. Hope you and yours had a good one!