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September 6, 2016

Hope you had a lovely labor day. Mine was fantastic. I’ll tell you a little bit more about it in a minute. You know, It’s been a long time since we’ve had a song of the day. Feel free to fire it up, because I’ve got a few pieces of non-blog business to get out of the way before I say what I came to say.

The personal
I binged watched The Get Down on Netflix over the past few days, which has made me think of my own childhood growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s. So sorry about the bad rhymes. Hope I can stop them in time. What I really need is to think of some R&B that I can sing for karaoke. I need a song in the right key for me, that I can bust out at the CBH party. Sorry. I’ll stop for real now.

The political
Twitter is a helluva place. Speaking about the 70s, I remember learning about Vietnam, and what set it apart was how the television cameras brought the fighting into people’s living rooms. Well, now Twitter puts conflicts right in your hands as they happen. And it’s powerful stuff. In the past I’ve talked about watching BLM protests unfold life and witnessing the militarized responses. Today, I can’t shake the images from the North Dakota pipeline protests. If you haven’t seen them, you should.

The professional
You have until tomorrow night at 10pm (EST) to enter to win a pair of general admission tickets to the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival’s grand tasting on Saturday, September 10. I’m going. So it would be great to see you there. And if you can get a free ticket because of my other gig, all the better.

Right. So to set the stage for today’s actual post, let’s talk about the cooking of late summer for a moment. But this isn’t a post about cooking.

There are certain smells that are evocative of a time and a place. And the smell of a pork shoulder rubbed with Penzeys Arizona Dreaming and simmering with apple cider vinegar in the slow cooker is one of those sensory experiences of late summer in upstate New York.

The windows are open. It’s cool at night. And I wake up to the sweet, smokey smell of what will ultimately be a quick and easy pulled pork sandwich. It’s cheating. But this is not for me. It’s for Young Master Fussy, and it’s one of his favorite dishes. He doesn’t care about things like bark or smoke rings. And I’m not about to fault him for it, because whenever we go to The Memphis King, I get the best bites from his pile of pulled pork and he’s thrilled to be left with all the soft and tender interior morsels.

One of the other foods that’s redolent of the season are overnight slow roasted tomatoes. But that’s a subject for another day.

So, I made this favorite dish for my son and his friends. When the pork is done, I wrap it and refrigerate it. It’s better on the second day. The juices get chilled too. The fat gets separated, and the drippings get turned into a homemade barbecue sauce. As I said, the kid’s favorite part is the interior meat. So things like fat and softened connective tissue get pushed to the side.

Here’s my problem. I can’t resist using culinary techniques to take what would be food waste and turn it into amazing morsels of deliciousness.

Oh man. What have I done.

Well, I took the fatty scraps of the pulled pork butt and simmered them in the rendered pork fat. In a heavy bottomed pan. For hours. And what I was left with was a pile of deeply browned, crispy, pork strands. I don’t even know what to call them. They aren’t pork rinds. It’s mostly not meat. Really, it’s crispy deep fried pork fat. And with a little bit of salt, it’s freaking delicious.

Here’s the problem. I’m supposed to be on a diet. And dammit, I’ve been pretty freaking good for the past several months. In those early days I cut ice cream entirely out of my life. I stayed away from butter entirely, opting for olive oil every single time. I avoided fried foods. I was watching portion sizes. I wasn’t snacking. The list of culinary sacrifices goes on and on.

But now? Now, when the date of my blood work is in sight, I find myself sabotaging my own efforts. On top of the deep fried pork fat, I ate two donuts. Two Boston cream donuts.

I’m finding myself dipping into the butter plate at home. I’m taking second helpings when I don’t need second helpings. I’m eating more at restaurants. Ultimately, I’m simply being much less careful than I have been for months. French fries. Chips. They have all found a way back onto my plate.

And it’s stupid.

Part of me thinks this is because in my heart of hearts I suspect that I didn’t quite go far enough in this diet to make the gains I was hoping to see. So this sabotage can at least provide an excuse of sorts for falling short of my goal. But how could I possibly know without having done the blood work?

If there’s any upside to the whole thing, it’s that I’ve finally identified a yoga class that fits into my schedule, that is right for my complete lack of coordination, flexibility, or ability to retain any of the names of my chakras. My hope is that it will put me on the path to actual physical fitness. I’m not proud of it. I’m not particularly excited by it. But I think it’s probably the right first step.

We’ll see. And perhaps the situation will not be as dire as I suspect. I’m still down several pounds from my last visit, and hopefully this cleaner living will not have been in vain.

I’ll keep you posted.

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