Thursday, December 24, 2009

Family Visit Part 3 - Party Prep

Friday saw party prep begin in earnest. My elves showed up (also known as my Christmas Bitches) and I put them straight to work. Well, most of them. Phillip was getting the back yard ready, Dad was busy feeding my dogs junk, and John seemed more interested in taking pictures of them with his iPhone than in taking pictures of the food and the cooking.
The perpetually starving Dinky

Steamboat - notice how much more dignified he is.

When I pried John away from the boys, I set him to work putting up outside lights and figuring out what he wanted to do for the photo room. I had decided a long time ago that for this holiday party, I wanted to set the office up as a makeshift photo booth and make sure that everyone who came got their picture "tooken". While Mom and Dad were visiting here in October, we swung into a cheap pottery place that had cheesy Christmas decorations and props, and I asked Mom to help me gather some up for that. She got pretty stoked about it and I finally said "Why don't you guys just come back for the party?" Lucky me, they did, and also got John and Natalie to come. And if I haven't mentioned it enough already, John is a photographer. I win! I win!

To recap: John, setting up outside lights and planning the photo room. Phillip, outside cleaning and setting up the backyard. Dad, feeding my dogs crap. That left the womens in the kitchen. Mom and Nat (John's wife) pushed up their sleeves and told me to put them to work.

Now I have to say, I don't play well with others in my kitchen. I'm not used to it, and we have a tiny galley kitchen that's not really ideal for multiple cooks. But it worked out pretty well, all told. I handed out the recipes from my cooking software, and everyone just got down to business. By 1:00, we had everything done that could be prepared a day ahead and I looked around and blinked and said "Wow. I guess we can go to lunch." So we did. And a little shopping. No way I would have had time for that if I was working this party alone.

Back home for a little rest, and my family scooted back to the B&B to change clothes for Christmas dinner. (Natalie said she smelled like food from cooking all morning and she was tired of it.) I got dinner ready while they were gone.

Salad with Honey Lime-Cumin Vinaigrette
Pork Cubano
Black Beans and Rice

Toasted Egg Nog Pound Cake with Ice Cream and Dulce du Lece

The pork had been cooking on low heat in the clay cooker all afternoon. All I had to do was simmer some black beans, make rice and a salad.

After dinner, we did our Christmas with each other. Then Wade arrived. Wade is John's old college roommate, and Mom and Dad are crazy about him. He's living in Greensboro now, and decided to come down for the party. Mom and Dad didn't know he was coming, so it was a nice surprise for them.


He joined us for dinner. I made sure everyone was fortified, because we had a long, busy day ahead on Saturday.

Pork Cubano

This is an adaptation of a recipe my good friend Ronda shared with me. She does hers with pork tenderloin and cooks it a shorter time. I do mine in a clay cooker with a butt roast and cook it all afternoon on low heat. The result is a shredded mess of tender pork that's great for eating on top of black beans and rice, or as a sandwich, which is what Phillip has been doing with the leftovers.

1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup dark rum
1 large onion, large chop
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 Tbs. oregano
1 1/2 Tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 lb. pork butt shoulder

Mix first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Place butt roast in slow cooker, dutch oven, or in my case, a clay cooker. Cook over low heat (350 in oven) for 4 - 5 hours, turning roast occasionally to keep it wet. Shred pork when done and serve with black beans and rice.

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