There are many ways people gauge the end of summer. For some it’s as simple as looking at a date on the calendar. For others, yearly rituals like closing up beach houses, pulling the leaf rake out of the shed or closing pools serve as a sad indication that autumn, with it’s shorter days and colorful leaves is just around the corner.
Nature of course has her own methods. Heat and humidity (at least here in Delaware) give way to cooler days, and even cooler nights. Summer flowers fade into memory as fall colors from mums and sedums start to prevail. The night sky intrudes more into our daytime as the summer triangle (Vega, Deneb, and Altair) slides from sight and Orion begins to rise in the southern sky.
But some of us have other methods to gauge when summer is over, and indeed it doesn’t even have to be the summer in the current calendar year. For me, summer 2011 ended on Sunday when the last of the vacuum sealed pulled pork was taken from the freezer. Having taken a trip to BJs to stock up on some pantry items, Tracey suggested picking up rolls for dinner and hinted that perhaps, just perhaps, it was time to let last year’s summer finally go.
The prep was easy enough, some sliced onions in a pan until they were translucent and then in with the thawed pork. Soon the tantalizing aroma of smoke, onions and meat was wafting through the kitchen. When ever I
walk into a Yankee Candle store get dragged into a Yankee Candle store by Tracey, I always give a silent prayer that someone there has realized the gold mine they would be sitting on if they would infuse this bouquet into one of their candles. I hold my breath as I scan down the shelves hoping to find Smoked Pork® between Sage and Citrus; and Soft Blanket™. Always to be denied. Don’t any men work in that place?
Once the pork was heated through I hit it with kosher salt, two caps of apple cider vinegar and red pepper flakes – and stepped away. I happened upon this simplistic preparation at a winery one summer where a local BBQ team was set up to serve sandwiches to people out on the wine trail. Only three ingredients, but each having a very important and distinct role. It starts with the tang of the vinegar balancing the sweetness of the meat and then the red pepper flakes adding a welcomed, but understated heat to the party. Salt? Well salt does what salt always does – make things taste better. I quickly adopted this method which I have playfully dubbed “naked” for serving my pork, but I am not a man of strong will power and found it impossible to give up on BBQ sauce entirely. But I turned this into a positive when I realized that by not putting BBQ sauce on the pork, it was leaving me and my fellow diners the opportunity to take our sandwiches in any direction we individually wished. After all, what could be better than BBQ sauce – well obviously having your choice of BBQ sauces!
So once the food hits the table, I break out the six pack of BBQ sauces. I have to thank my friend Lisa for the inspiration here. One year for Christmas she got me a set of white squirt bottles because I had mentioned how I loved Guy Fieri’s set up with his oils on “Guy’s Big Bite”. When she bought them, our mutual friend John asked her, “Why are you buying him those? You know he’s never going to use them.” Of course John should know better then question the connection between two Aquarians born only a day apart.
Oh he was right, I couldn’t really use them for my oils like Guy does. I already had a set up for that. However, I could use them to bottle different BBQ sauces to put on the table. So I grabbed a couple of my favorite sauces (that’s another post) and a couple I wanted to try and bottled them up. To make them all transportable, I put them in a Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady ESB six pack holder which is an excellent use for it, second only to transporting six bottles of Scarlet Lady into my house.
Needless to say, the pork was very good and still tasted as smokey as the day I … well, smoked it. And while I admit it was sort of sad to sit there and stare at my empty plate and realize that my summer of yesterday had finally come to end. I could take comfort that another summer was indeed around the corner and that Tracey was already thinking ahead.
“This was the last of the pork right?”
“So when are you making more?”