The second to last weekend in October was Bucknell’s homecoming. I haven’t gone in a few years, since the majority of the friends I had while in undergrad were older than me (which probably explains the massive influx in weddings I’ve had to attend this year). Even the few years that I have attended, I haven’t really done any of the actual Bucknell sponsored events. The real reason I go is for my friend’s family’s pig roast.
Let me tell you a little something. I’m kind of squeamish when it comes to raw meat. I don’t like touching it, and I don’t particularly care to see what my meat looked like originally before I eat. But I go freaking ape shit for pig roasts. Stick an apple in that bad boys mouth and a skewer up his butt and roast that sucker up. And my friend Kelly’s parents do not mess around when it comes to roasting a pig.
Now, to properly roast a pig you need a roaster. They basically look like a giant oil drum with temperature gauges. Except Kelly’s dad’s roaster is the most badass piece of equipment I’ve ever seen, because a friend of the family built it. Yeah, he built his own damn roaster for a pig roast that occurs once a year (though I get the impression he might use it more than that) – I told you, they do not mess around. And the pig? The pig is a 250 pound monster that takes hours upon hours to roast.
Sadly, I have never made it to the roast early enough to see how they maneuver that beast onto the spit, and I’m really upset about that, because I bet it’s quite the sight to see. However, for my first roast, despite my severe intoxication, I was all up in their business when they were butchering the final product. I mean I was all up in their business. “What’s that part? What’s this do? Can I cut? No, you’re right, that’s probably dangerous. Can I get a picture of the head? Can I touch him? Are you sure I can’t cut it? Ok fine, I’m sorry. Can I try that part? Oh, what about that part? What do you do with the tail/snout/eyeballs?” I was relentless. They suffered me in silence though and laughed, mostly.
They would cut off huge slabs and shred it for pulled pork, then they’d cut steaks off other portions, and finally the bacon came off and we had a delicious potato and bacon hash. I’m not a huge pork eater (except for bacon, holy cow meat candy) but when it comes to a freshly roasted pig I’m on it like a fat kid on cake. My old roommate Ella had a pig roast at her wedding, and a girlfriend of mine from grad school did for hers as well. And whoever says that’s not classy has clearly never attended a good pig roast. I mean c’mon it’s the biggest bang for your buck and it tastes like heaven. I’m totally having a pig roast when I get married…or at least for my engagement party/bridal shower/bachelorette/2nd bachelorette (because you need two to capture all the fun I think). Anyway.
So this year The BF and I drove out with Samson and The BF’s friend from high school Joey (whom I had oddly met through different friends entirely independent of The BF several years before we started dating, small world). It was a long four-hour car ride from the city, but we finally got there just before midnight. And we immediately commenced drinking. This is an important fact: the pig roast is literally a 24-hour drinking marathon. Most of the men, and in my heartier days I did as well, stay out drinking the entire night while the pig roasts. They pass around bourbon and whiskey and go through far too many cases of beer, and then? Then they play nails.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you are not from central Pennsylvania or from some other rather hick-ish part of the States you may be unfamiliar with nails. Here are the rules:
1. You must have a beverage in your hand at all times and it should ideally be full, and alcoholic.
2. Get a stump that’s kinda big and tall and set it on some not so sturdy cinderblocks.
3. Get a large box of 20-pennyweight four-inch GALVANIZED nails (I got hollered at for picking up non-galvanized nails, apparently shinier is better), whack one nail in the stump for each person playing, in a circle around the perimeter of the stump.
4. Get a hammer preferably with a rubber grip. Holding the grip end of the hammer fling it in the air so it flips at least once and catch it on the grip end, not above the grip. If you catch it properly you get one hit at someone else’s nail. No aiming, just stand about arms length away from the stump, whip the hammer up and smack it down.
5. Drink, repeat.
6. The last nail standing wins.
There are more rules and fancy tricks to get more chances to whack your opponents nails but that’s the basic gist of the game. For a long time I wasn’t allowed to play nails, because I’m clumsy (remember proprioception?) and liable to injure myself and those around me. This year I got to play. It’s fun, but I still don’t see what all the hullabaloo is about. Probably because I’m not good at it, and I hate losing almost as much as The BF does.
So the boys stayed out all night. Kelly and I staggered back to her parents house at 5am to try and get a few hours sleep, but we were up again at 9:30, picking up another $100 worth of beer for the day since the boys managed to drink it all the night before. I managed to spill an entire cup of red wine on my ski jacket, under my arm and in my armpit. We’re still trying to figure that one out. They ran out of nails at one point so I had to run to the hardware store and pick up more. That was an awkward trip, “Hi do you know the game nails? I need more nails for it. Kthanxbai.” And then, The BF and I promptly passed out at 9pm (actually it might ave been 8pm or even 7:30pm) and slept until 10:30am the next morning. It was glorious.
To thank the Chernins for hosting so many vagrants at their home for the weekend and supplying us with mucho booze, I baked two dozen scones for breakfast, to try to help alleviate some of the cooking. I used my blog crush’s “Dreamy Cream Scones” recipe and made a blueberry variety and a cranberry variety, and then I altered it slightly and made a cinnamon walnut variety. I hate to say it, but the cinnamon walnut scones were hands down my favorite. Probably because they smelled and tasted like fall, and were spot on for the weather and a good warm cup of (spiked) apple cider.
Go forth and make chitlins!
*Just a note: I have done this all by hand and it does not take long, but it is messy. You can make it in a food processor but you have to work quickly. If you use a food processor, cut your butter into cubes then chill them in the freezer for 10 minutes before distributing among the flour.
Cinnamon Walnut Cream Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
6 tbsp chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
½ cup (or more) chopped walnuts
1 cup heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
If using a food processor place the flour, sugars, baking soda and salt in the bowl fitted with a sharp metal blade. Pulse a few times to incorporate. If doing by hand, whisk the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Scatter the butter over the flour and either pulse about 12-15 times in short, one second bursts if using the processor or rub between your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand with only a few large pebbles. If using a processor, transfer the contents to a large bowl.
Stir in the walnuts. Pour the heavy cream over the mixture and using a rubber spatula or fork mix together until a dough begins to form. This doesn’t take long at all, just a couple of stirs. Dump the entire contents of the bowl, even the crumbly bits, on a lightly floured surface and knead quickly for a few turns until it is a cohesive mass. Make sure to rotate the dough so it doesn’t stick too much to your board. This dough is super sticky so just beware, it will be all over your fingers.
Pat the dough into a large circle about 12 inches across and an inch thick. Cut into eight triangles. Brush the tops with some heavy cream (mixed with an egg if you wish) and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown. Remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature.
These can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days or frozen for upto a month. If you freeze them, let thaw over night in the refrigerator then bake in a 350°F oven for about 5 -10 minutes before serving.