Friday, January 30, 2009

So me and N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler are like, buds now.

One of my new year's resolutions was to try to get to know Steve Troxler better. So when I saw the News and Observer was having an "Ask Anything: 10 Questions with Steve Troxler" feature, I was all over it.

And my question was selected and answered.

9. A December 2006 article in Rolling Stone magazine painted a very ugly picture of pollution and cruelty perpetrated by the Smithfield Foods corporation in North Carolina. Smithfield refutes the claims, and I know we've since passed Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act. What is your position on so-called CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and their role in North Carolina agriculture? Do you see CAFO's as the future of hog farming? – Matt McCann, Durham

By and large, North Carolina hog farmers care about the environment and care about humanely treating the animals on their farms. It doesn’t make good business sense for them to think, or do, otherwise.

Raising hogs indoors allows farmers to properly care for and feed their animals. And hog farms are held to strict standards regarding manure storage. Currently, there is a moratorium on construction or expansion of any hog farms with more than 250 hogs.

Well - there ya go. Thanks Steve.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The whole family has a cold, no one was really hungry enough for a full dinner. I had a feeling that might happen, so before I went to bed last night I left half a bag of dried garbanzo beans to soak overnight.

When I got home from work, they had doubled in size.

The first time I tried to make hummus, I put them directly in the processor after soaking overnight. Ick. Don't do that.

They need to cook, and for quite awhile at that. I'm going to guess it took about 25 minutes until they were squishable under light finger pressure - and that's the stage you're looking for. Drain the beans and put them in the processor. Give them a good spin.

To that I added a a couple of cupfuls of concentrated lemon juice. Fresh would have been way better, but use what you have is my motto. A good pour of good olive oil, some garlic, a lot of salt and of course tahini. Someday maybe I'll try to make that from scratch too, but for now I used a jar. How much? Eh, 2 big spoonfuls? Mix it until smooth.

I top mine with a pour of olive oil, a big pinch of za'atar spices, a shake of sumac and some kosher salt.

Would have been nice with pita slices, but we had tortilla chips.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slow cooked pulled pork

A Boston butt is actually a shoulder. You rub it down with spices and stick in in a cast iron dutch oven and let it cook on 200 degrees for about 5 hours and it becomes something else entirely.

I'm not going to call it BBQ. Around these parts; what I made might be close to BBQ - but missing some key things; smoke and the rest of the pig.

But it is good eats. When I took the lid off of the pot I was amazed at how much fat had turned to liquid. There must have been between 3 and 4 cups of it. I didn't keep it (I've got a whole jar of bacon drippings in the refrigerator for all my pork fat needs). Once you can pull the bone right out and you can break up the roast into smaller chunks - it's ready to drain and shred.

Some folks like it just like that. I added some cayenne pepper, cider vinegar, a squirt each of ketchup and mustard and a good pinch of Kosher salt.

I served it up with home made baked beans and slaw. No corn bread though...maybe next time.

Are you in favor of irradating food?