Comfort food. We all have a high emotional connection to foods that comfort us, nourish us. For as long back as I can remember I turned to certain foods to lift me out of a mood, bring me some place else. We all have our favourites. Throughout the years I have lived through phases and changes in my preference, but they all accomplished the same thing. Back when I was young it was mac and cheese but that changed as my age changed. At one point or another I have experienced them all.
I remember when I first started dating W. Every chance I had I cooked for her. There were foods she loved and others she had never previously had. Some were misses, but some were hits. Sometimes, when the stars aligned, she was over the moon. The first time she had french onion soup was one of those times. And the first time I bought a pork shoulder at the local market and made pulled pork sandwiches was another. Since those days I add those dishes into rotation. But especially when W needs a lift. For as long as I have known her, pulled pork has that ability.
Throughout the years I have experimented with different recipes and ingredients when making it. Changing it up. I have always been happy with the results yet it doesnt’ stop me from trying something new. It’s the perfectionist in me when it comes to food. And the belief that one day I’d make and taste the best pulled pork sandwich possible. Well..
It happened years ago now. I almost remember the day when the food network started broadcasting here in Canada. Over the ten plus years I’ve seen shows come and go, with only two original cooks/chefs remaining. Trends and specialty programming were introduced. Others cancelled. Over the years only the best shows caught my attention and had me glued to my tv. One of those shows was Trish Magwood’s Party Dish, where Trish helped clients plan and execute parties. Unfortunately, the show only aired for two seasons, and I was sad to see it go.
Trish came out with her first cookbook, DISH ENTERTAINS, back in 2008 and it went on to critical success. It won a James Beard award that year in the entertaining category. I picked up that book and cooked from it over and over again, leaving stains and pen marks everywhere I turned. An obvious sign of my real appreciation for it. I leave notes in the columns and bend back my favourite pages. I wondered for the last couple of years whether she would come out with a second book, if at all. I waited and waited.
A few weeks ago I was excited to find her latest cookbook on my doorstep, In My Mother’s Kitchen. I noticed it in the store a short while before and meant to pick up a copy, so I was thrilled to see it when I returned from work. I spent a good part of the evening flipping through the pages and making bookmarks of the recipes I wanted to try. One that stood out was a recipe for pulled pork so it was only a matter of time before I was going to be making it. So I did.
I used the recipe, ingredient for ingredient. I only made a small change, adding a sweet & spicy sauce to the shredded pork because I like a saucy sandwich and so does my wife. Plus, it works really well with pork. But I nibbled on the shredded pork before adding the sauce and it was fantastic. A slight hint of sweetness and incredibly moist and flavourful. Combined with the sauce and crunch of the slaw I use and it was arguably the best combination yet. And an incredibly delicious sandwich. W loved it just as much as I did, maybe more. The real sign that a recipe will work on repeat in our house.
What I particularly loved about this cookbook was the connection made between Trish, her mother and her mother’s mother. This book is personal. Yet, accessible. It bridges generations and brings family together. It’s littered with her family’s favourite recipes. It actually reminded me of the connection I had in the kitchen growing up with my own mother and grandmother. And eating recipes that were tested and tried years and years before. Times may change, but great food doesn’t.
Comfort food. Family recipes. We all have connections to food because of moments and people. Mainly because of family and the food we serve each other. Spending hours in the kitchen making food for our loved ones in an attempt to show them just how much we care. I picked up on that through the pictures in this book and the recipes she shares us. And I can’t wait to open it up again and again and make recipes for my wife and family.
From my kitchen to yours,
P.S. I’ve recently been nominted for Best Food Photography on a Blog and would love your vote!! Click here to vote: http://www.thekitchn.com/best-food-photography-on-a-blog-nominations-the-homies-2012-166623
- 1 pork shoulder or butt, trimmed (2.5-3 pounds)
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup sweet apple cider
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tbsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes
- Put pork in a slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine all marinade ingredients. Pour over the pork, rubbing in. Cover and cook on medium for 8 hours.
- When done, shred the meat with a fork. Add sauce and mix until well combined.
- Serve with warm buns and your favourite fixings.
Sweet & Spicy Sauce
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
- 3 tbsp. mustard powder
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
- 1 tsp. cayenne powder
- pinch of sea salt & cracked fresh pepper
- Whisk together all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Once smooth, remove from heat and cool until ready.