This afternoon, sitting with Sunny on the lawn after what felt like a long busy morning, I found myself asking what I felt grateful for. I appreciate the fact that this thought even occurred to me. I often talk to clients about being patient with themselves when it comes to even remembering to practice the things that help, because learning to remember to connect with what we're grateful for takes time, just like every other part of our gradual human processes.
Here is today's list. This afternoon, I felt grateful for:
Lying on my back while waiting for Sunny to pee, the sun playing off the wind swept leaves. Little prisms.
The time I took to go for a jog during my afternoon lunch break.
Listening to The Creative Fire during my jog. Overhearing Clarissa Pinkola Estes words: "the main struggle that people have with creativity is that they stop themselves from doing what comes naturally...all you have to do to create is to stand out of the way...at the center of the psyche, what we are speaking of is a mystical substance that in Spanish is called "el duende" (the creative function)...It is a being that comes to roost or visit for those who make a place for it. Some of us are born with the gift of it, and others of us must chase it everywhere...yet if you attempt to tie it down, it will whither. And if you set a trap for it, it will evade you. And if you use it without replenishing it, it will retreat. And if you think it costs nothing to have it, all your hair will be burned off..."
Those 15 minutes Marcio spent sitting on the kitchen floor, a big smile on his face, playing with Sunny and telling me about his day, while I ate my dinner standing up: toasted sourdough, s/p tomatoes, ghee, cheese, and chocolate milk.
And...that chocolate chip cookie.
Gratitude has become a popular practice among positive psychology in the past few years. When recommended, it can come off as too shallow an intervention to possibly touch the emotional reason we might be looking for an intervention in the first place. But in practice, nothing could be further from the truth. Gratitude feels nourishing. You just have to be willing to be authentic about what you appreciate.
I had lots to be grateful for this past week. Two friends visited us from STL. We caught up on life, ate out, toured Block and Newport and a bit of PVD, and were lucky to relish the beach and island for two beautiful mid-seventies days. M had to work during the week, but we saved our favorite local Mexican spot for Friday night and ate the most amazing fried yucca, plantains, carnitas quesadilla, carnitas tacos, and the largest and most pillowy chimichangas I've ever seen. Again, amazing.
And, while friend's visits never seem to last long enough, the transition back to life-as-usual is always welcome. We spent most of our Saturday enjoying errands (I suffered through another intense craving for puffy Cheetos at the grocery store - second time!), puttering around the house, trying to keep an eye on potential potty training accidents, and supporting the kitty through her adjustment.
On Saturday, I food prepped all over the map: 2 types of chocolate chip cookies, raw veggie salads, a veggie-quinoa salad, and chicken salad. I'm test driving the cookies to see whether I want to make edits before posting them on our site, but as far as I can tell, they're yummy. One is a bit more granola/potential breakfast-y and the second is a bit more decadent.
Sunday morning, Mom visited to meet her grand-puppy for the first time, I painted for a few hours (which, today, turned out to look a little like this: 25% lack of motivation, 25% commitment and "to hell with motivation - get your ass in gear and just do it!," 25% exercise in irritated frustration with the outcome, and 25% understanding that all of this is yet another lesson in the creative process), and...finally, I decided to watch Outlander and make carnitas in our brand-spanking new Instapot.
SO! Without further ado...
Instapot Carnitas over Boiled Yucca, with a raw side salad and pickled veggies
- 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch chunks (with excess fat trimmed off)
- fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil (best for high heat cooking)
- 1 batch "mojo sauce" (see below)
MOJO SAUCE INGREDIENTS:
- 1 cup beer (or chicken stock)
- 2 heads of garlic, cloves smashed or minced
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (approximately 2 oranges)
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 1.5 limes)
- 1 diced jalepeno (remove the seeds for less heat)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
- 2 small yucca
- pinch of salt and water for boiling
PICKLED JALEPENO, RADISH, AND GARLIC.
(if pickling a larger amount, I have always loved this reciepe...and overall website!)
- 2 medium sized or 3 small jalepeno, sliced (the absolute best mandoline)
- 4 radishes, sliced
- 3 cloves or garlic, sliced or left whole, your preference
- 1:1 water/vinegar solution (I use about 1/2 c each when pickling a small portion)
- 1 TBSP black peppercorns
- 1 TBSP oregano
- 1 TBSP salt
- 1 TBSP sugar
(tip: I meal-prep basic green salads at the beginning of the week and using them as sides/lunch-bases throughout the week. I leave them in the fridge in glass pyrex, they stay fresh better than veggies in bags/crisper drawers, and they're so easy to grab to add a little light nutrition and crunch to a delicious meal. I leave all dressing and cheese or additives off until day of):
- Baby kale or any other green on hand
- sliced radish or fennel (or both!)
- crumbled feta
- diced onion
- dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, S+P to taste.
- a little chopped cilantro, chive, mint, or dill to make it herbaceous if you're in the mood!
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk your "mojo sauce" ingredients until combined. Set aside until ready to use. Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper.
Click the “Sauté” setting on your InstaPot. Add half your oil, followed by half of the pork, and sear — turning every 45-60 seconds or so — until the pork is browned on all sides. Transfer pork to a separate clean plate, and repeat with the remaining oils and pork, searing until it has browned on all sides.
Press “Cancel” to turn off the heat. Add your pork and mojo sauce to the Instapot. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing.” Select your "meat" setting and follow Instapot directions to cook on high pressure for 30 minutes.
Prep your sides: peel and chop your yucca into 1 x 2 inch rectangles. Boil with a pinch of salt until a fork pierces easily. Similar to potatoes. About 10 minutes.
For the pickles: Slice your jalepenos, garlic, and radish and place in a small bowl. Prepare your solution by combining the water, vinegar and spices. Boil your solution and pour over veggies. Let sit while you finish the carnitas.
Set the oven broiler to high heat. Safely remove the lid of the Instant Pot by following directions (especially if this is your first time using your IP - careful!). Shred the pork with two forks. Transfer it with a slotted spoon to a large baking sheet. Spoon about a third of the leftover juices evenly on top of the pork and toss to combine. Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begin browning and crisping up. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat even more crispy. Remove baking sheet from the oven.
To plate: portion yucca, add carnitas, and ladle the remaining juices over the top, like gravy, leaving a bowl on the table to add more salty, delicious, goodness. Add salads (unless you don't want your salad to touch hot foot like M (is it possible to add a laughing emoji on a blog?)
Or, refrigerate pork in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Enjoy! Thank you for reading!