Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Happiness is 76 lbs of pulled pork......

     Well,  maybe that's a little too specific, but this blog is a little about making pulled pork and a lot about service to others.

     I'm dog tired today.  I spent the weekend helping my sister Meter Maid with an event that she has held on her property for 2 years now.  It's a Hare Scramble motocross event and her husband's farm hosts it.  She asked us to help last year in setting up and working the food concessions, and I readily volunteered. 
It's called a smoker for a reason....
This year my family was able to join me, well at least my wife and one son.  As I reflect on what we did, and then look at the bigger picture, I'm not surprised at how smooth it went, how much fun we had, and the compliments that we received about the energy and enthusiasm that we all had, and as I reflect on all who worked, I see a pattern emerges in the people that I choose to spend my time with.

     We pulled in late Friday afternoon and after unloading went straight into seasoning the Pork Butts.  My smoker can hold about 10, but I don't like to overcrowd them, so we settled on doing 8- 9.5 lb butts.  They were bone in, which I prefer for the flavor, but if I do have to cram more in, I'll settle for the boneless ones. My wife and son Nolan helped to season them with the dry rub and we had them on by 6.  I use a mixture of seasonings and one person shakes them on and another massages them into the meat.  I use wet mustard sometimes too, but didn't for these.  I like to cook them low and slow at 225 degrees, but that means they will take 14 hours or so to fully finish, but like all things good, they are worth the wait.  After we loaded the smoker, we helped to start setting up for the next day.  My sister has a gorgeous place near Ithaca, and you've probably seen pictures of it when I wrote about the annual pig roasts that she has (A Swine Time ).  My brother, the Sergeant Major, had arrived before us, and that's saying something since he lives in Ohio.  Incidentally he stayed longer than we
A thing of beauty to behold......
did too.  My sister Hummingbird and her husband came down, and soon after were joined by my brother Ace and his wife.  The family circle was complete after Meter Maid's youngest daughter arrived and with my brother Socrates' youngest son in tow, an added bonus.  We set up all that we could and then went across the street to a local watering hole for a planning session.  Not surprisingly, my sister had agreed to advertise the chicken BBQ that they were having to the people that were at her event.  It was more of a nighttime thing, and we weren't serving chicken, so they weren't really competing with our food sales.  I wouldn't have been surprised though, even if they were, if my sister Meter Maid, wouldn't have agreed to do it anyway, she is one of the most generous souls that I know.  The event ran on Mother's Day, and I know my Mom would have been proud to see her children working so closely together and in support of a sibling. 

     Predawn we awoke to put on the big coffee pots. The kitchen and serving areas resembled a beehive or an ant colony with bodies seamlessly passing over each other, with their assorted tasks and chores to accomplish before we could open.   I like to stop for a second just to watch this happen, our
Some of the overnight campers
charity golf tournament gets started in the same manner each year and it never ceases to impress me. The morning menu was simple, 2 kinds of breakfast sandwiches, fruit, and coffee.  It's good practice for when we get busier for lunch and the afternoon. The afternoon menu is a little more complicated, hamburgers, chili, hot dogs, nachos, fries (with hot melted cheese), and my brother in law invented a new dish that we called a Garbage Barge that had fries, pulled pork, melted cheese, jalapenos, and a diced hot dog on it.  We sold over 25 of those to some brave adventurous souls who tried them.   We didn't get everything right the first day, but the crowd gets bigger on day two, so we fine tuned it all in preparation for the big event. That night, after a 12 hour shift of standing on a concrete floor or serving under a tent, most of us bopped back across the street and some of the more foolish stayed there until after 1.  That made for a long day the next day.

     Day two started with a bang and we had triple the orders on the breakfast sandwiches and coffee.  I had reloaded the smoker but only with 4 more butts, which looked lonely in there compared to the
The kitchen crew
day before.  I turned the fryer on at 9 and almost never stepped away from it after that point.  For a several hour period, I had to reload the basket with fries just as soon as they were empty.  My brothers on the grill and steam table had similar experiences on their equipment. This is not to dismiss all the ladies working up front doing the order taking, running and money collecting, I'll guarantee that they all got their 10,000 steps in that day. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that a lot of my sister's friends helped us, either working the food concession or helping to staff the event in different areas.  Some donated equipment to be used, like 4 wheelers or Gators.  My niece's daughter jumped in to help staff a table on day two also.  The first day we are lucky to make back the expenses, but day two puts some money in the bank for my sister and the farm.  We busted hump all day, and we sold out of some items completely at the end like cheese and fries.  There was still a little pulled pork left when I started packing up, but I'm sure it got finished as well.  My sister had a better year financially this year as we got dialed into the crowd and the patterns, and she even tried to pay the volunteers, which elicited a laugh from them all, there were no takers. As I mentioned before, my sister's generosity is legendary and when you have an opportunity to repay some of it with some labor, you just do it.

     So wrapping it all up, our weekend was comprised of 2 grueling days of work, but when we drove
back home, we all had smiles on our faces.  Most of the folks involved spend a lot of weekends volunteering for school and civic groups, or just helping those in immediate need (my sister Hummingbird dropped off food at a funeral on her way down to the event).  When you surround yourself with people like this, it's food for your soul too.  I find, that over the years, I've slowly replaced my friends with people like this.  Those people take a little longer to find and then to develop and keep relationships with, because they are always busy doing for others, but trust me, it's worth the time and effort, just like good pulled pork. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FOOD FOR THE SOUL is absolutely right on ...I so appreciated all the help from my family, & freinds. Also it was indeed alot of work, tired feet,and body but a good tired as I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with such wonderful souls. Besides my siblings' 2 sister-in-laws 1 brother-in law, and a young injured nephew went above and beyond as well. I am so blessed!! Love, Laughter and Lasting Memories Made!!! Mother's Day with a daughter & grandaughter giving service with a smile....To Give really is to Receive everything !!
Meter Maid