Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sunset was sorta dumb but we still had pork

For the last few years my mom and I have been saying Oh we should totally go to Sunset when they have their open house or whatever and we kept forgetting. We'd remember in, like, September, when it was long over or we'd read about how great it was in the magazine and feel like asses for missing it again.

Because oh we were missing out on so much fabulousness what is our problem!?

Until this year. We actually remembered before The Thing happened, where The Thing is actually called Sunset Celebration Weekend, and it happened to fall on a weekend that wasn't already totally booked up for both of us.

Oh miracles! The stars were aligning! We were going to be present for the fabulousness of Sunset Magazine with doors open to the public! Woo!

Um, not really.

I'm sad to say that this event to end all H&G events was really not all we hoped for and more.

Let me put it to you this way, as we were walking in we passed a mama duck and her ducklings strolling the lawn and heading for what I can only imagine was a water feature of some kind and it was very cute. We both How Cute!'d all over the place and then mom made the observation of the day by saying, "Well, I bet that's the best thing we see all day. We're done. We can go."

Oh and how we laughed. Tee hee hee.

Had I only listened to my mother, we could have saved ourselves some needless torture.

The Event, which I had imagined as some sort of home and garden playground of lush flowering landscapes combined gracefully with informative speaker sessions and sumptuous food and wine samplings, turned out to be more of a county fair meets housewares expo awkwardly plunked down on the magazine's grounds.

And rather than go off on a rant about the irksome particulars which include carnies and loads of sweaty people unfit for public interactions, let me say that I still do love my Sunset magazine and am still sort of holding on to my whimsical fantasy that it is the HQ of all things garden and home and that just by walking through their doors you can be transported into a land of tastefully designed backyards, seasonal cuisine, eco-friendly decor and landscaping that doesn't involve tiki torches or guitar shaped swimming pools, but I daresay this event was not the showcase for such imagined fabulousness even though it *may* exist somewhere onsite.

This is a fantasy to which I am holding strong.

In the event that you actually want me to go off on a hell bent rant, let me know, but I started to write it out and was frankly bored with even bitching about it.

The event is billed as "...where the pages of Sunset come to life" and in reality it was more like where the pages of Tradeshow Week come to life.

Where I had expected to see mass plantings of creatively paired native specimens, there were tented booths set up hocking all manner of cheesy wares. Where I'd hoped for delicious samplings of local cuisine there were fair trailers selling $4 corndogs and gyros. (I had a corndog, OK - I am not without weaknesses.) Where I'd planned to spend an enjoyable afternoon strolling beautifully arranged gardens talking germination dates with my mom, I was dodging flabby carni-goers carrying trays of fair food for their hoards of screaming kids.

When I had to duck behind a tent just to get a peak at the landscaping for which Sunset is so well-known, we knew it was time to bolt. I had managed to snap a few photos of the plants not blocked by the freight train of blobby retirees in enormous sun hats, so that got to be enough.

We skipped out after only a few grueling hours and escaped to my backyard where we could have our G&Ts and compare notes on the event's most offensive missteps.

And then we grocery shopped as mother and daughter for some pork chops which is funny when you remember that we are Jews and apparently not very good ones.


I did manage to find and successfully execute another Chard Killer recipe, so if you've got a farm share of chard you're looking to offload, this recipe will do it.

BBQ Pork Loin Stuffed w/ Swiss Chard
Adapted from the pages of White on Rice Couple
My changes in bold

Serves 3

3 Boneless Pork Loin Chops, or similar cut (@ 1″ thick). Ask your butcher to slice pockets into the chops for you. They'll do a better job with their fancy sharp ass knives and skills.

Marinade Ingredients:
2 T Garlic (crushed)
½ T Sugar
½ t Salt
1 t Ground cumin
2 T Soy sauce
1 t Sesame oil
½ c Grapeseed oil

Stuffing Ingredients:

7 Lrg. Swiss chard leaves, ribboned and stems removed
2-3 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 Shallots, diced
1 c Pineapple, diced
1 T Grapeseed oil
1 T Sesame oil
Sea salt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat BBQ for direct grilling

1. Combine marinade ingredients, then marinade pork for 30 min.

2. Bring pot of water to boil, add sea salt to taste, then par-boil swiss chard for 3-5 minutes. Drain, place in a ice bath until cool, then drain again. Squeeze out excess water.

3. Heat grapeseed oil in pan over medium-high heat, add garlic and shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add swiss chard and sesame oil, sauté for another minute or so, then add pineapple. Remove from heat and season with sea salt and pepper. Allow to cool a bit.

4. Remove pork from marinade. Stuff cavity with swiss chard mixture, then place on a pre-heated BBQ. Grill approx. 4-5 minutes on each side, controlling BBQ heat so it isn’t overwhelmingly hot. Remove from grill & eat with grilled corn on the cob and a giant salad from your share or garden greens that are running amok.

Also - Surprise Corn on the Cob recipe!
This is thanks to Bubba's mom who is the corn queen in my estimation. It might seem lowbrow, but it's way easy and will give you great results. No soggy kernels. No undercooked starchiness. No loss of flavor.

Corn on the cob

Soak a kitchen towel with cool water and wring it out. Shuck your cobs of their silk and husks. Wrap your cobs with the towel and throw in the micro for 2 minutes each. So, if you have three cobs like we did, you'd micro for 6 minutes.



We also had an enormo salad, but I doubt you need the details on that. The big news is that I made pork that did not suck and we ate summer corn which is one of the best things ever. Also I got to enjoy a few G&Ts with the great introducer of G&Ts (me mum) and we checked another event off our list so that now we're able to go do other things that we know we'll like such as walking around Golden Gate Park or whatever.

Just anywhere they don't sell kettle corn in sleeping bags.


  1. Well, that just shattered all my fantasies, too. I would expected the same as you! I wonder if it was like that Once Upon a Time and then got too big? Or, gasp, if it has always been like this?

    I'm going to forget I ever heard this so that I won't sob while studying my Sunset Western Garden Book, the fount of all garden knowledge.

  2. You just saved my husband from the dog house. This was the first year in several years that our schedules were open during the celebration. And he messed it up. I won't go into details, but let's just say I sounded like a harpy wife having "missed the event I've been trying to get to for years!" Now I know that I can live without it.

  3. Wow, that is a huge letdown. My dream (long ago) was to work at Sunset. Not that that has to do with anything, but I still have a soft spot for all things Sunset, except for this open house, which I don't even have to be sad that I missed. So thank you!

    And I don't know if you've ever tried grilled corn on the cob, but it's also quite delish. Of course, at the moment I have a taste for kettle corn....

  4. Ok, here's the thing. I hate Sunset Magazine. Why? Because I hate the word "succulents." Every freakin' issue of Sunset has an article on succulents. Why? Why? Why is that necessary? Why take an ugly word like "succulents" and force it upon a fragile public? That kind of wanton disregard for their readers' delicate sensibilities is just plain irresponsible.

    And I don't care about day trips to Apple Haven, Oregon, recipes for anything involving the word "fritter," and how-to projects that require nail guns, cans of wood stain, and multiple measurements.

    I will happily go into eternity if I never have to hear the "S" word ever again. Shame on you, Sunset. Shame!

  5. that pork recipe looks great. i'm linking to it for future reference.

  6. lol, Decca just made my day.

  7. Yours looks great! The changes look good too and will try it out next time! We're waiting for some more swiss chard to come up and will let ya know how it goes!


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