while i was sleeping, it snowed over 8" outside. the snowstorm must've also caused a blackout during the night because all my appliances were blinking this morning. most noticeable was the one of the aquarium filters, which was making this horrible gurgling noise because it couldn't draw in enough water. full of anticipation, i opened the blinds in my living room. there was a lot of snow, yes, but i'd expected more. forecasters were saying possible 16", and here in cambridge we only got about half that amount. it wasn't as much as the snowstorm we had the day after christmas. this snow however was wet and sticky, not light and fluffy. it was also a little harder to shovel because it was heavy.
but before i could even step outside, i first had to get my pulled pork started. i'd bought 5.07 lbs of boneless pork butts from the supermarket yesterday ($1.89/lb, $9.58). i chopped it up into fist-sized pieces and placed them into my crockpot. to that i add: 1 cup of chinese rice wine, a pinch of salt, a handful of chopped garlic cloves, a few slices of fresh ginger pounded lightly, and one chopped up yellow onion (actually that went in first before any of the other ingredients). i boiled some water with my electric kettle to speed up the process and poured enough into the crockpot to almost cover everything (i figured the pork would eventually release some juices anyway). i turned the dial to high and prepared myself for the 9 hour wait. it was 11:00.
next i had some lunch. couldn't get my shoveling on without eating something first. originally i was going to make some scrambled eggs with kielbasa sausages, but then i saw my leftover macaroni and cheese from a week ago and decided to eat that instead.
finally i was ready around 11:30. i could hear my upstairs neighbor but it didn't surprise me at all that he made no effort to come down and help with the shoveling. i didn't mind, i could use the exercise plus the beauty of fresh snowfall was all the thanks i needed. as mentioned previously, it was wet snow, so soon my gloves were freezing wet and my fingers started to hurt. wet snow was heavier, but easier to remove as my shovel scraped all the way to the pavement.
while i was finishing up, a guy came around, tied his dog to a signpost, then began shoveling. paul was his name (lives at 48), with his dog lucy. i offered to help him dig out his car (he was going to work) since i was clearing out a path from the sidewalk to the street anyway.
after i did that, i began digging a path into my own backyard all the way to the basement. i must've been shoveling non-stop for about an hour. when i finally went inside the house, my clothes were sweat-soaked. i peeled them off and took a hot shower. i checked on the progress of my slow-cooked pork butt. i flipped over some of the top pieces because they looked a bit dry.
i got ready for round 2, the highlight of the day, which was to go for a photo walk around the neighborhood. somehow the addition of snow makes everything seem new again. in the short time i was inside, it'd snowed another half inch, which i quickly cleared off. as a matter of fact, it was still snowing, and not expected to stop until the evening, although the bulk of it had already passed us, and at most maybe another inch or two.
snowstorms seem to bring neighbors together. maybe it's that old saying, "misery loves company." people whom i never talked to in the past i was now chatting with like we were the best of friends. such was the case with gregory, a 50+ year old neighborhood handyman i see from time to time, but never got a chance to talk. he saw me taking photos outside my house and suddenly i was hearing stories about his dual hip replacements and how he was going to get a knee replacement soon. and then we met this girl whom i always see walking her black labrador retriever and got to play with her dog. she told me that yes, her dog sometimes will get cold and start shivering one leg.
funny thing, but when i looked back to my house from down the street, guess who i saw outside? none other than my upstairs neighbor steve! i wonder if he was waiting for me to leave so he could finally come outside and dig out his car without having the embarrassment of facing me in person for doing all the snow shoveling earlier?
after a snowstorm i always head towards harvard square. i think next time i may take the subway into boston instead. even though i've seen snowy harvard a bunch of times, i can always find something new. the wet conditions combined with the strong winds coated everything in snow overnight. forget about directions because signs were all snow covered (if they weren't knocked over from errant snowplows). even the traffic lights were covered in snow, making it hard to tell whether to go or stop.
i saw some harvard students sliding down the snowy steps of widener library on cafeteria trays. this one girl had an inflatable sled and went down the steps headfirst, narrowly bashing in her skull on a metal post (i thought harvard kids were supposed to be smart? definitely liberal arts major).
leaving the harvard main campus through dexter gate, i went down linden street, to mt. auburn, down winthrop, and back to central harvard square via brattle street. with my rubber boots there was no snow mound i couldn't climb over, no slush puddle i couldn't ford.
while i was taking a photo, a group of tourists stopped behind me to take the same shot. later they asked if i knew how to get to the sheraton hotel. i thought about it, gave them some vague directions, before one of them pulled out a google map on her iphone. "yeah, basically, just follow the google map," i told them.
returning home via oxford street, it suddenly started snowing heavily again. it was a long 15 minute walk back home, and at one point i even took shelter underneath an overhang of a building (actually needed a place to do a quick lens swap).
i bumped into my neighbor franz doing some shoveling outside. i also bumped into steve. both of us were all smiles, but he never thanked me for shoveling the sidewalk, just said something about how tired he was from digging out his 2 cars (he actually has 3) and was going upstairs to rest.
as for me, after dropping off my camera, i went back outside armed my shovel to help franz dig out his car. we ended up helping 2 other neighbors dig out their cars as well, the 4 of us working in unison to clear the snow. afterwards, franz and i continued with our shoveling, freeing up an additional 2 cars (one of them being bruce's). digging out cars can be addictive. it reminds me of mowing the lawn, this relatively mindless repetitive task that you do over and over again but eventually with a nicely mowed lawn - or in this case, a car free of snow.
back inside, the house was filled with the delicious smell of slow-cooked pork (smells like very savory chicken soup). the meat chunks were smaller now (probably due to all that fat being rendered off) and the broth was boiling. the pork looked ready, but i was going to give it 2 more hours (to 6:00).
in the meantime, i took another shower. call me old fashion, but i'm a soap guy. i've used body wash before but it always leaves me confused as to how much to use and whether or not i need additional equipment (like a wash cloth or a luffa). anyway, i'm always on the lookout for new and exciting soaps to try, and last week i got some dove men+care deep clean soap. i finally got to try it out last night, and let me tell you menfolks out there, it's pretty awesome! first, the color: it looks like a bar of cookie dough. i love the smell, which is reminiscent of those old soap-on-a-rope (do they even make those anymore?). the "deep clean" refers to the fact that there are these little "purifying grains" that act like sandpaper. it hurts a little bit, but i'd expect nothing less from a soap designed for men. it also moisturizes, which threw me for a loop at first, because i thought i didn't rinse properly, but it's just the residual moisturizer in action.
my thinkgeek order was supposed to arrive today (i got a new clock) but by early evening i got an e-mail from UPS: adverse weather conditions. / the movement of the package will resume as soon as the weather conditions allow. the wording is so unusual. i'm imagining my package just sitting on the conveyer belt not moving because of the snow.
i turned off the crockpot at 6:00 after 7 hours worth of slow cooking. the pork was super tender and moist. i moved the meat into a bowl while pouring out the liquid into another bowl. last time i managed to accidently spill everything down the sink (chock full of rendered fat), so i was more careful this time around. after it cools off, i'll throw it away.
i don't know why i bother adding the onion/garlic/ginger when they don't really impart any additional flavors into the pork (which tastes pretty bland at this stage) and i throw most of it away anyway. the only reason i can think of is to reduce the natural slow-cooked pork smell, which is pretty foul without the other ingredients. i shredded the pork with a pair of spoons before adding them back to the crockpot.
to the shredded pork i added the entire 28 oz. bottle of jack daniel's barbecue sauce. i never had it before, it's kind of sweet, like a honey barbecue. since i like my sauce spicy, i added a few tablespoons of hot chili sauce. i mixed the pork with the sauce then let it cook on high for another 2 hours. finally, at 8:00, my pulled pork was ready! it tasted okay, and after two sandwiches i was already full. i definitely want to try making my own sauce for next time, or at least find a barbecue sauce that's more vinegary.