The weather is so cool and sweet after the latest storm. I love those quiet moments that always seem to happen this time of year, when the afternoon sun sweeps glorious golden arms through the tops of the trees, and the bare branches of the sleeping trees look so lonely… Melancholy settles on me then, for all the regrets in life, and all the things the world used to be, but isn’t, such as clean and free and alive.
I’m inclined to be sitting with knitting in my lap then, thinking of all the things I wish I had done with my life, and all the things I still want to do. And I feel like the loneliness and quiet seems to stretch itself across the sky, in a painful but lovely moment.
When I was young, this time of day i would feel compelled to be outside, watching the last minutes of daylight slowly fade to gloaming. Something about the lowering light made me so restless, I felt imprisoned inside, missing this last glimpse, as if I were to miss bearing witness to some crucial moment of life, and the heartache of missing it would stay with me all evening if I happened to be stuck inside.
Things seem about to be so difficult in the world right now. I have hardly known what you say this year. I am realizing I have a very different perspective and different values from people I used to like and feel on the same page with. There are so many people I simply can’t really relate to anymore – we are too different, and what we want for ourselves and our world is too different.
I don’t mind not fitting in, or taking a different path. It wasn’t always like that for me, but reflecting on my life, it’s always the times when I’ve departed from the path my heart tells me is right to try to follow along with other people that I regret so much. In the words of Martin the soldier, as he laid down his arms before the Centurion, “I now serve a higher Master.”
This year has been such a disappointment for roselle – one of my favorite food crops (is there anything that isn’t a favorite food crop? Fava beans, because I haven’t been able to grow them successfully yet!). I have 20 plants, but the variety I planted (seeds from Baker Creek) didn’t even start flowering until late October. They finally have harvestable calixes on them, just as we passed the average frost date.
Usually starting September I am already making gallons of roselle soda, or roselle sour gummy candies, or at least some roselle mock cranberry sauce and roselle honey barbeque sauce. I finally got a modest first harvest and was looking forward to more, when something happened (a fungus?) after the last heavy rain and cool weather, and all the leaves fell off, so I can’t even make shrimp and roselle leaf curry.
But, to make up for it, this is the BEST roselle recipe I think I’ve come up with so far! I’m not sure why my thoughts have been turning so much to rice bowl/ Chinese takeout kinds of food lately! But I had a sudden craving for sweet-and-sour pork, the kind I remember from when I was a kid, and my brother refused to eat anywhere except Chinese restaurants when we were traveling.
This recipe used so many home-grown ingredients: roselle, ginger, garlic chives, sesame. The sesame was a little bit of a pain to process, but I think I figured out a technique of crushing the pods with a meat hammer, and then winnowing it. The hardest part was separating the white sesame from the black sesame for seed-saving purposes, but maybe that didn’t matter that much. I didn’t realize it was such a beautiful plant. I will plant it near the flowers next season!
My friend Korina just gave me some arrowroot to plant, so perhaps I will have another homegrown ingredient for it next year!
For this recipe, I used a indeterminate amount of home-butchered pork, but I think it was about 2 lbs. The amount of meat is flexible, really. I’d just mix up more breading if you want a little more.
For the Sauce:
A small saucepan full to the top with cored roselle calixes. Here is a post about that, if you aren’t familiar with roselle
1/2 cup water
4 Tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
1 Tablespoons of tamari
- Add the water to the sauce pan with the roselle, and gently cook it down with a lid on part of the time until the roselle is soft.
- Put the cooked roselle (juice and all) in a blender, and add the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the sauce back into the sauce pan and set aside to simmer down and thicken a little on low heat while the pork is frying.
For breading the pork:
1/2 cup arrowroot starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
lard or other fat for frying
- Mix the starch, salt and white pepper together.
- Cube the pork. I used both boneless pork chops once, and also a pork loin with this recipe. You honestly could use any cut of pork cut up in to bite-sized pieces.
- Toss the pork pieces in the starch mixture, and fry until golden brown on the outside. The pork should be cut small enough to cook, like 1″ by 1″ chunks. Bite-sized.
When all the pieces of pork are fried, toss them with enough roselle sauce to coat them. Sprinkle on chopped garlic chives and sesame seeds. Serve with rice!