Saturday, December 13, 2014

Porketta and Angels We Call Sister

Porketta and Angels We Call Sisters:
Note:  This is late getting posted, due to a problem with my computer.  It went to the tech hospital and the Geek Squad made it all well again… so pretend you are back in Thanksgiving mode, please!

Once upon a time there was a young woman, all of 14 years old, who had two younger sisters.  Then came daughter number 4!  This young woman loved the baby sister almost as much as if she were her own babe.  As the baby grew, so did the young woman.  When the baby was 4 years old, the big sister got married… young by today’s standards, but it was not unusual for young women of 18 to be married in the Midwest in 1960.  A year later, she had a baby of her own, but her little sister was still special to her, and the little sister sometimes spent weekends with her.  They sewed doll clothes and she cooked the little sister’s favorite foods, like waffles and spinach… not served together, of course, and she taught her little sister many things she knew.  As time passed and they both grew older, they still were close.  They shared laughter and tears as they traveled separate paths, and the little sister began to teach her big sister many things.  She taught her to make jewelry, and how to make collages formed from bits of things too precious to throw away, lovely works of art that decorated her walls.  She taught her new recipes, and still they laughed together and shared the sacred moments of their lives. 

This week, that little sister came to her big sister’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family.  She and her husband have no children, so she shares the children and grandchildren of her older sisters.  Tonight, my two sons who do not live here in Cincinnati will arrive with their families, and all five of my children and their families will be together again.  I am so very happy my baby sister was able to come and be with us, getting to know the grandchildren she shares and renewing bonds with my children.   I have been cleaning and preparing my house for visitors… 26 in my immediate family will be here on Thanksgiving, if everyone comes.  I still hadn't gotten the beds changed or my refrigerator cleaned out.  A dear friend told me that perhaps an angel or two would show up to help finish everything.  And, Priss, you were right!  My sweet sister changed the beds AND cleaned my refrigerator.  Not cleaned, as I would have cleaned it… tossing old leftovers out... she took EVERYTHING out, including even the door shelves.  She tossed things that were lab specimens, as my children call them, and washed all the shelves and the inside of the refrigerator!  I had a pork loin in the refrigerator that I said I wanted to make into a porketta, and she promptly replied that she makes porketta all the time!  For those of you who didn't grow up on the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota, the melting pot of nationalities and immigrants, a porketta is a pork roast that is butterflied and seasoned with onion, garlic, fennel, salt and pepper.  It is a traditional food on the Iron Range, and served especially at holidays and special occasions.  It’s delicious served hot or cold in sandwiches. 
Little Sister, also known as Sherri, laid the pork roast on my cutting board, deftly sliced into it with a knife and spread it out on the cutting board.   
She then diced up a large onion and sprinkled that over the pork.  Next came the minced garlic… 2 to 4 Tablespoons, according to taste.  Finally, she sprinkled Fennel seed (we used ground Fennel this time) over everything, then salt and pepper liberally.  
Next, she rolled it up like a jelly roll and tied it together with cotton worsted weight yarn… the closest thing I have to string.

She salted and peppered the outside and added a bit more fennel, and put the onion and garlic bits that had escaped over the top of the roast.  Then she triple-bagged it (porketta has a very strong scent that permeates everything in the refrigerator), and it is in the meat drawer of the spotlessly clean refrigerator, waiting to be roasted.  It will provide sandwiches for the multitudes in my home over the weekend.  (Addendum:  the porketta was cooked to perfection in my Halogen roaster, and smelled delicious!) 

While Sherri was busy putting things back in the refrigerator, I was busy with a project of my own.  I am making Advent Candy Banners.  I’ll put up another blog SOON with photos of our banners made the day after Thanksgiving this year.

I am thankful for my family.  My sister and my children helped me do much of the prep work for Thanksgiving dinner, as well as the clean-up.  The turkey will be put to bake in the morning. I will make dinner rolls… then it is just a matter of putting everything into the oven to bake.  I’ll assemble the stuffing and bake it separately from the turkey.  My youngest son peeled and diced parsnips, turnips rutabaga, carrots, and sweet potatoes and put them in a roasting pan, ready for the seasoning before baking.  My sister made a crockpot of red and white rice and lentils with curry that is smelling delicious.  I made ribbon jello, dreamsicle salad and a lime/pistachio/cottage cheese salad.  I have a huge bowl of diced pineapple and oranges, a couple of pans of freshly baked cinnamon rolls and a big crockpot of “fruit soup” (a Finnish tradition) for breakfast.   And don’t you dare tell me there aren't angels among us, because one is sleeping in the room above me as I write this, and I call her “SISTER”!

Update:  I didn't hear my alarm go off Thanksgiving morning, and awoke an hour too late... but the aroma of turkey roasting was in the air!  My youngest son had set HIS alarm, and he put the turkey on at the right time, and diced all the celery, onions, and even some mushrooms for the dressing.  I don't usually put mushrooms in mine, but I know he's a very experienced cook, so I tossed them in.  When he got up, he told me he sliced the mushrooms in the hope that I would make coddled eggs with mushrooms for breakfast!  He didn't get them that morning, but I did make him coddled eggs the next day.  And, of course, Quentin got his cheese omelet.  I notice the grandchildren are starting traditions of their own.  (Smile!)

If you are fortunate enough to have a sister, perhaps these quotes will have some special meaning for you, as they do for me:

One's sister is a part of one's essential self; an eternal presence of one's heart and soul and memory.
                                                                ...Susan Cahill, American Writer

You can't think how I depend on you, and when you're not there, the colour goes out of my life.
                                                                 ...Virginia Woolf, English Writer

A sibling may be the sole keeper of one's core identity, the only person with the keys to one's unfettered, more fundamental self.      ...Marian Sandmaier, 20th Century American Writer

Loving a sister is an unconditional, narcissistic, and complicated devotion that approximates a mother's love... sisters are inescapably connected, shaped by the same two parents, the same trove of memory and experience.            ...Mary Bruno, 20th Century American Writer

We are sisters. We will always be sisters.  Our differences may never go away but neither, for me, will our song.                       ...Nancy Kelton, 20th Century American Writer


  1. Beautiful post today! I was moved by the story of your little sister and you. I had no idea about your budding friendship when you were children. I'm smiling, and my eyes are leaking.. Now I'm hungry and my fridge isn't filled with anything that resembled your Thanksgiving fridge. But I have 4 containers of cottage cheese, 8 little tubs of yogurt, 4 plastic containers filled with flour and grains ready for the bread machine. And assorted science class projects on the door. Love you dear friend, Priss

  2. Your blogs are so wonderful. I don't have a sister, but wish I did. :)