Happiness arrives on a rainy afternoon, after a long walk through the neighborhood. Happiness steps forward on a break from waiting, waiting for the words to fall through my fingers. Happiness emerges shyly, then stays, brazenly, for a few moments.
Walking west on Galer, the grey clouds taking a break for ten minutes. Light blazes through yellow leaves, stubbornly sticking to black branches. A single note plucked on a guitar string. Resonance — that old feeling. High up on the scale. Ineffable.
Watching my hand reach for a small pork top round roast, just under a pound, from Niman Ranch. Organic. Sustainable. And tenderness — nothing like the shrink-wrapped at the grocery store. Pork roast memory redolent on my tongue from two days before, I carried it to the check-out counter. That familiar percolation — what could I make of this food?
Fat crackling. The kitchen smoke singing. Slices falling away from my knife.
Lemon salt expanding. Dark pumpkin liquid spilling from a tall green bottle. Little globs of goat cheese, falling from my fingers. Wild greens twisting to meet it all.
Pork roast and butternut squash salad
This salad emerged from my mind two days ago. Struck by the thought of more pork roast, I had to create something. Trader Joe’s sells not only Niman Ranch pork — considered by many foodies to be the best pork available nationally — but also little bags of wild greens for one.
That’s me: wild greens for one.
Roast some butternut squash with this pumpkin seed oil — lately my favorite oil — with some Meyer lemon sea salt, and listen to it sizzle in the oven.
Do you have sunflower seeds on hand? Throw those in there too. The sweet salt puckers the mouth around the squash, and it all rushes from that spot into you. Becomes you. Literally.
one small pork round roast
a splash of rich, green olive oil
enough herbs de provence to cover the top of the roast
Meyer lemon sea salt, to taste
cracked black pepper
one half of a butternut squash, seeds removed
liberal splashes of pumpkin seed oil
more Meyer lemon sea salt
two good handfuls of wild greens
dibs and dabs of herbed goat cheese
a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, salted
Lap waves of pumpkin seed oil on the cut-open half of butternut squash. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast in a 400° oven for forty-five minutes, or until the flesh yields to your fork. Take it out of the oven and let it cool.
Smear the top of the pork with olive oil, Meyer lemon sea salt, the herbs de provence, and cracked black pepper, enough to make a crust on top. Roast it in a 425° oven, or until the meat thermometer reads 140°. Don’t worry if your oven smokes.
Slice the pork roast into large bites. Save half of it aside for the next day’s festival of eating.
Lay down a bed of wild greens, then arrange the pork neatly on top of it. (Who am I kidding? Just throw the pork in there, because you’re only going to eat it.) Layer chunks of soft butternut squash, gobs of goat cheese, and more pork on the greens. At the last, sprinkle some sunflower seeds on top.
You probably won’t even need dressing. Everything else is so richly textured and five-thousand tasted that anything else would be overkill.