Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Garden of Poetry Sticks

Poetry on a Stick was definitely my day brightener today. I volunteer for a non-profit organization called Tuesday Club. Each month isolated seniors from different care facilities and other places in the Twin Cities come together for conversation, prayer, bingo, lunch and sometimes entertainment. This month we celebrated April Poetry Month (even though a bit late) and Cinco de Mayo.
Each table received a garden of poetry sticks. Participants were encouraged to take a poem and share it with their table. We suggested they could even pass the poem along to someone else later in the day. Some seniors were quite spontaneous. They remembered poems from their schooldays by heart such as "The Raven" by Edgar Allen Poe. Now that was an impressive recitation! A few remembered poems they had written themselves as a child and wanted to share with the group. Now here is where I had a few ah- ha moments while listening to their poems being read with such confidence and enthusiasm. We need to provide more literary opportunities and events for seniors that will energize and inspire them through conversations with other participants.   

Side note: Poetry on a Stick is an original idea by poet David Bengston, Long Prairie, MN. Several years ago I featured his work on a blog posting. Follow this link to learn more about David's work.

Another ah-ha moment was breaking of the pinata. The activity was set up so most could participate even if they were in a wheelchair. We need to think "more outside the box" and reconfigure activities seniors might have done but perhaps some disability now holds them back. They were so excited for this activity.    

They had such fun whacking the bat hoping to break the the pinata.   
Afterwards so many guests expressed their appreciation for the morning activities, lunch and the time spent by volunteers putting it all together for them. It truly was a day brightener for them.  

Tinga de Puerco (Pork Tinga)
Cook's notes: This recipe comes from closetcooking.com
You don't need a Cinco de Mayo day to enjoy Tinga de Puerco. It is a Mexican style 'stew.' The meat is simmered in a chipotle and tomato sauce that is commonly made with chicken or shredded beef. But this version uses moist and tender shredded pork and Mexican style chorizo sausage.
Although the list of ingredients is rather long, this recipe is actually quite easy to make. You start out by simmering the pork butt until fork tender and then you make the actual stew along with the chorizo, chipotles and tomatoes and the stew itself only takes about a half an hour to make. This recipe is also slow cooker friendly and you can throw the pork butt/shoulder into the crockpot in the morning and then you just need to shred it and make the stew in the evening for dinner.
Another alternative is filling soft tortilla shells with the pork mixture.

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 1/2 pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 pound chorizo, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo (or to taste), chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the pork and brown on all sides.
  • Add the onion, garlic, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and enough water to cover the pork, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pork is tender, about 45 minutes or 
  • Place the pork, onion, garlic, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and enough water to cover in a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  • Shred the pork, skim the fat from the broth and set both aside.
  • Heat the oil in pan over medium heat, add chorizo, onion and garlic cook about 5 minutes 
  • Add in the shredded pork, 1 cup of the pork broth, the cooked chorizo, tomatoes, chipotle chilies, oregano, marjoram and thyme 
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper, mix in the vinegar and cilantro and remove from heat and serve. 

Follow this link to this weeks  Seasonal Plate food column. 

The recipes are ones recently posted; Lemon Orzo with Asparagus, Spinach and Feta and Balsamic Glazed Salmon with Strawberry-Tomato-Rhubarb Salsa   

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