Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Aftermath: Coming Together in Support for Sandy

Food brings people together. It is a statement so true that I have written about it over and over and over again. In most cases I say this for idyllic circumstances, where I’m surrounded by people I love, laughing over plates of delicious food, or philosophizing about something or other while sipping cider, tea, or mead. Food is a way of connecting with people as one of our most basic needs are met, physically warmed as it reaches our stomachs and emotionally warmed as we discover how extraordinary life is with those we love.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there are those out there still picking up the pieces the storm had left in its wake. While the worst I experienced were flickering lights, empty water jugs artfully flung into the grass from the porch, and a toppled birdbath, my family was still safe and warm from Sandy’s screaming winds. For days some families were without power, or unable to leave their streets because of fallen trees and large debris. Thousands had to be evacuated from their homes, and additional thousands lost them entirely. And unfortunately, we lost a few sentient beings in the storm’s havoc.

Here I was, working on my own life, and as if reawakened I was suddenly aware what was going on around me. There are others out going through the same thing I am, and I no longer feel so alone in my experiences. In times like these people realize that they aren’t alone, that they’re cared about and their lives are meaningful. So whoever you are, wherever you are, whether I know you or not, I wish you well and hope you are safe.

When the lovely Jenn of Jenn Cuisine posted “Food Bloggers Support for Sandy”, I felt that this would be a great opportunity to reconnect with others in the world, creating a virtual buffet of warmth and delight of the senses for a shared cause. This isn’t about gluten-free eating; and to be honest, it really isn’t about Sandy (although it was the event that brought Jenn and Barbara [of Creative Culinary] to create this awareness). It’s about connecting with your neighbors: the ones living next door and the ones in the states Sandy hit the hardest. It’s about remembering that, regardless of political/national/ethnic orientation, we are still people who live, breathe, laugh, cry, suffer, love, and eat.

Perhaps you will donate to the various organizations Jenn listed towards disaster relief. Perhaps you will volunteer your time to providing food and other provisions yourself. Or maybe, just maybe, you will create a dish in the hopes to create awareness and reach out to whichever neighbor happens to need you most.

Regardless, I dedicate this meal to the people who volunteered, rescued, survived, and persevered during Hurricane Sandy.

Roasted Pork Loin and Vegetables

2 lb. Pork Loin
1 lb. Brussels sprouts
3 Sweet potatoes (a little larger than hand-sized), chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Apples (I used small Fujis), coarsely chopped
4 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 Red onion, coarsely chopped
70 ml Rendered chicken fat*
120 ml Apple cider
1 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. Mignonette pepper**
1/4 tsp. Powdered rosemary

Preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a x” baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, set the whole pork loin in the center to bake uncovered for 35 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, fold the remaining ingredients until completely integrated and well mixed.
Remove the pork from the oven, pour the vegetables around the meat, and cover with aluminum foil.
Place the pan back in the oven, reducing the heat to 375° to bake for an additional hour.
Take off the foil and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the center of the meat reaches 177° and the vegetables are soft and have browned slightly.
When done, slice the meat into thick cutlets, and serve each cut with a heaping spoonful of veggies (you could also make a quick gravy with the leftover juices).
Serve warm.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.

*I usually have a jar of the stuff after making my oven-baked chicken. But if you don't happen to have this on hand, you can substitute it with your preferred cooking oil/fat.
**This is Penzeys Spices's version of "coarsely cracked pepper", so whatever cracked peppercorns you have will work beautifully.

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