You Can Keep Your Superwoman Badge + Crock Pot Pulled Pork

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.

porkshoulderroast

Here is a nice piece of pork shoulder. (Thank you, Google.) Keep reading as to why I showed you this hunk o’ meat.

IMG_8137

Tender, juicy, and ready to be devoured!

Crock Pot Pulled Pork
Serves 6-8
Ready in 4-8 hours
Slightly Adapted from 100 Days of Real Food
3 Tablespoons paprika

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.

12 Comments

  1. Elizabeth April 29, 2015

    One of the first things I noticed about life in Cambodia was the way they enforce rest after childbirth. It was something I so admire about the culture here. We Americans have so much to learn from the way other cultures treat postpartum women.

    And I love the phrase “You can keep your superwoman badge.” I think we should all make that our new slogan!

     

    1. Ashley Felder April 29, 2015

      Elizabeth, it’s so interesting to me how other cultures have been able to hang on to that tradition, while we have let it slip away, falling right in line with our over-busyness.

      Yes! T-shirt order? 😉

  2. T April 29, 2015

    I’d say to ladies, w/out pork–don’t despair.  I throw a big turkey breast in my fake crock pot and as long as there is liquid enough in there (I do usually go barbecue sauce flavored), it pulls just like pork and still tastes good!   Could work with chicken as well.  Maybe more of an expert could suggest cutting the time a bit or more specifics.  I am a ‘good enough for rock n roll cook’ who isnt’ very discerning when it comes to precise tenderness or taste!

    And, I’ve been completely 100% guilty on the ‘my baby is only __days old and I’m wearing my jeans/traveling the country.

  3. Ashley Felder April 29, 2015

    T, thanks for the tips on being flexible! This recipe-following girl needs all the help she can get in that area! How I’d love to trade turkey for pork almost ANY day! I would say, the smaller the piece of meat, the quicker it will cook, so just keep an eye on it. I haven’t made turkey in a crock pot, but chicken on the bone would stay nice and moist!

     

  4. Jen April 29, 2015

    The recipe was so timely since I had 2 pork loin roasts I needed to cook today! Here’s my changes for not using a crock pot and having smaller meat cuts:

    I cut the paste recipe in half because my meat cuts were smaller. I laid the pork on the onion slices in an ungreased glass pan, poured the paste mixture over and covered with foil. I used my toaster oven on 250 degrees for about 3 and 1/2 hours. Served with pan fried cauliflower and got 2 thumbs up from everyone. Thanks Ashley! (The picture is my “before” picture)

    1. Marie May 3, 2015

      Looks beautiful! Great job!

  5. Ashley Felder April 29, 2015

    Looks great, Jen! Thanks for the alternative way to cook it! Um, and I LOVE that fabric in the background!!

  6. MaDonna May 5, 2015

    Oh, to have learned this lesson of rest years ago… I remember looking down on my friends for thinking they couldn’t be out and about with newborn on day 3. Shame on me. Then the second arrived, and I wished I could have had that time – but there was no one to be that mother/mother-in-law for me. Mine were miles away and probably would have come if I had asked, but I didn’t think about asking….and you know, the husband can only take off so many days. It’s like that saying “Hindsight is always better.” I probably should have asked for help. I probably should have rested more. Those days may be gone, but there is still time to make time to rest. I like your ideas of cooking and crafting. Cooking is definitely NOT one of the ways for me to relax, but I use to craft before kids. I think I need to work that back into my life – to help me shut off and relax. Thanks!

    1. Ashley Felder May 5, 2015

      Yes, MaDonna, hindsight is always much clearer. Glad you’re inspired to find something to help your mind and soul rest today! I’m ready to gather my supplies for my next craft–a wreath! Oh, how I’ve dreamed of having a wreath adorn my door for years! Only my teammates will see it, but who cares. It’ll make me smile every time I come home. 🙂

  7. Monica F May 7, 2015

    Loved this post!  I chuckled quite a bit throughout it, as I too have been pregnant in China (delivered in Chiang Mai), and have experienced the ‘zuo yuezi’ in our community.  In fact we had a young woman live with us in our apartment after she gave birth at a local hospital and her family would come over every day to make the preparations for her (long story, but amazing experience).  I tried to adopt SOME of the zuo yuezi (I did shower:) principles after my 3rd born in Thailand…. and I’ll tell you, it was SO much more pleasant and healing than after having my first in America.  Anyway, fun post!  Thanks!

     

  8. Ashley Felder May 9, 2015

    Monica, glad it made you laugh. So cool that you got to see their customs firsthand! Have you seen any articles floating around lately about the Chinese reactions to Princess Kate walking out of the hospital so soon after delivering–in heels, no less? Interesting stuff!

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