I’ve had a blog half-written for over 3 months now. The topic? Why we American mamas have such a hard time resting—literally laying still—after giving birth. It’s like we have this unwritten rule that we have to show off our new little bundle, whether it be at a function, out to eat, or shucks, even Target. As if to say, “yep, she’s only 3 days old!” Why do we reach for that badge?
Since living in China and being pregnant twice here, I’ve learned all about their postpartum traditions, and am finding out that many countries around the world do something similar. The Chinese take what’s called a “yuezi,” which means to take a month off. After giving birth, the mama stays in the hospital 3-5 days, then returns home and doesn’t leave her bed for a month. She is able to do this because her mother or mother-in-law moves in with her and takes care of her and the baby for the month (or longer).
There are different variations of this—some don’t even shower for that month (surely they sponge bathe, right?!), for fear of the mama getting too cold. Some only eat certain foods. I had a friend whose mother prepared their farm-fresh chickens for her with broth and herbs. That’s all she ate for 3 weeks! So yes, some traditions are odd to us. But the rest part? I think we need to learn a thing or two from them in that area.
After my first son, I remember having guests over to meet him the day after we got back from the hospital, making him 2 days old. I was proud of that. Shame on me.
After my second son, life was chaotic and rest was nearly unattainable. My husband had to return to China 1 week after he was born. I stayed with my parents and, while they did help, I still felt like a single parent. Not to mention the paperwork I had to drive all over the Midwest to retrieve in order for us to return to China in a timely manner. The result of terrible rest? The wound from giving birth bled an extra long time and ended up healing incorrectly, resulting in a minor surgery a few months later. But I accomplished so much in the first month of his life! Look at me! Shame on me.
After my daughter was born, I was bound and determined to rest well. Fortunately, this time, I was able to. We spent a week at our friend’s house right after she was born. I stayed in a room with just her that week. Yes, we had visitors because it was the only chance some people would have to meet her before we returned to China. But I had a strict rule: no walking stairs, and minimal walking elsewhere.
My husband lovingly carried me up and down the stairs once or twice a day so my extrovert self wouldn’t go nuts. After that, we moved to my parent’s house, where I was still determined to take it slowly. My aging body couldn’t…wouldn’t…shouldn’t? bounce back as fast as it did the first time around. It wasn’t a “yuezi,” but my body was happy that I took the time to actually let it recover.
Now that we’re back on the field, in full-swing of classes, homeschool, ministry, and daily life, it’s hard to find time to rest. But I’m finding that rest, for me, doesn’t necessarily mean chillaxin’ on the couch (although I’ll never turn down the opportunity for a power nap!). These days, baking is relaxing. If I can shut the kitchen doors and not have tiny voices interrupt me, all the better. I also love crafting. Last night, while my hubby was playing a game with the kids, I snuck to our room and crafted. That 30 minutes was just what I needed—and I accomplished something, too!
So in honor of resting and finding ways to do things a bit easier, I’m sharing a crock pot recipe. I kind of feel like cheating doing this, but who doesn’t love using their crock pot?!
I gave this recipe a try when I was tired of my BBQ pulled pork. I know pulled pork is old hat, everyone already has their own recipe, but this has a very unique flavor, yet one that everyone in my family loves! And if you have kids, you know that’s a feat in itself.
Here is a nice piece of pork shoulder. (Thank you, Google.) Keep reading as to why I showed you this hunk o’ meat.
Tender, juicy, and ready to be devoured!
1 Tablespoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup honey
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (Red wine vinegar is in the original recipe, but not available to me. I’m sure you can use any kind of vinegar–you’ll just get a slightly different taste!)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
3 to 3 ½ pounds pork shoulder or hind leg, cut in half*
In a medium size mixing bowl, mix together the first six ingredients (all of the spices).
Pour in the honey, vinegar, and olive oil and stir to form a paste.
Place the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Top it with the 2 pieces of pork and then pour the honey paste over the pork.
Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the meat is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork. (I’ve cooked this on high for 4 hours, but it’s not as tender. Just throw this together after breakfast, and you’ll be good to go for dinner!)
Serve as is, with BBQ sauce, or on a sandwich!
*I’m learning a lot about meat these days. Be sure to pick a chunk that is in-tact, not all chopped up (a mistake I’ve made before!) The large piece will cook slowly and stay moist and tender. Also look for a piece that is marbled, meaning there are thin strips of fat running throughout it. (See pic above!) When it cooks, the fat is not thick enough that you’ll gag (anyone else gag on fat?!) And finally, if there is a side with a hunk of fat still on it, leave it–it adds so much flavor! If you put the lean side down in the crock pot, the fat will be easy to remove once cooked.
P.S. So, when I was preparing this meal last week, it sorta flopped. I tried to sneak in 4lbs of meat into my smaller-than-normal crock pot. After 5 hours of crocking, I realized the issue and had to take 1/2 the meat out. The rest of the meat didn’t get quite as tender as it could have had I not jammed it all in there. Mini fail. 2nd mini fail: I forgot to take pics. Good thing you know how to cut an onion and stir some things together!
My purpose in sharing this? When I was watching the Velvet Ashes Retreat videos last week, someone mentioned people who always look like they have it together–perfectly cooked meals every time. This struck me. I hope you don’t think this is me! Just because I (sometimes) pretty pics of food doesn’t mean everything turns out so pretty! More proof: a few weeks ago, while making bread for the umpteenth time, I pull it out of the oven and it was flat as a board. My supposed-to-be-fluffy hoagie buns looked more like pale pancakes. Was I frustrated? Of course. Did we eat them anyway? You betcha. We’re all in this together, gals!
Enjoy! And when you turn that crock on, take the time you would usually use in preparing a meal to do something soul-quenching.