Remember a few days ago I posted about how I picture other bloggers being all organized and calm and Martha Stewart-y? Well, apparently many people have a picture of my house at dinner time because I get a lot of questions about how do you get your kids to sit at the table. Okay, a little disclosure here. My house at dinner time does look kind of like a Norman Rockwell painting - for about 8 seconds. But those are a good 8 seconds.
Actually, our kids are required to sit at the table with their clothing on and their toys put away (okay, put away is a lie - their toys not in their hands, on their lap or on the table). They are also not allowed to complain about the food. We try to get this to happen for 15 minutes each meal. Now believe me, some nights are easier than others. My four-year-old doesn't like food and my three-year-old doesn't like to be told what to do. You can imagine what it can sometimes turn into, right? Why do I go through this night after night? Because dinner time is important. Click here to check out some statistics about what a family dinner can do for your family and try to make it a habit.
Another question I had recently was about my pulled pork. I know most people do it in a slow cooker and this does work. Now say you want BBQ pulled pork. Most of your slow cooker recipes are going to suggest that you dump your raw pork butt and some sauce and maybe an onion in your cooker and cook on low till the cows (pigs?) come home. But the real key if you ask me, (and she did), is to brown the meat first. Brown all sides in hot oil and then add a bit of liquid - just an inch or two in the bottom of your pot - and let that simmer. The pork will put off plenty of liquid of its own. Personally I prefer to do it on the stove in a cast iron pot. And don't tell my husband or my mother that yes I do occasionally leave the house with the stove on. I'm a rebel and live on the edge. Of course if I was going to be gone all day, I would do the slow cooker but I would NEVER skip the browning and I would NEVER dump the sauce at the start. Too soggy. Let your meat brown and caramelize. Then after many hours, shred the meat or chop it or whatever it is that you are going to do to it, pour off your cooking liquid and THEN put your sauce on and add some onion. Let the sauce cook into the meat for 30 or 40 minutes and your onions will retain some semblance of onion-ness - is that a word? When the onions cook in the slow cooker all day, the are like slurping up overcooked noodles. Yuck. Now if you're going to do this in a slow cooker, turn it up to high to cook the sauce and onion. But really it comes out much better on the stove or in the oven in a cast iron pot.
By the way, if you're interested in ordering my homemade Smoky Apricot BBQ sauce, click here. It's perfect on pork and chicken. And if you'd like me to answer a question, email me by clicking here and I'll be happy to answer cooking questions, dinner time tips of whatever it is you think I might know!