Recently, I was privileged to see my sister’s posse in action up close in Norfolk. Her husband needed major heart and lung surgery, and her family would not be doing as well as they now are without the help and care of her posse pals. With my brother-in-law and sister spending most of their time at the hospital, the posse has stepped in to care for their children, run errands and even cleaned up her house without request. They are all so in tune to each other’s needs that these things just happen without a second thought.
Several of her posse stayed with my sister throughout the surgeries and made sure that she was not alone during those long uncertain hours anticipating news from the OR. While we waited, I learned that many were facing real struggles, but despite their own issues, they each shared the others’ burdens and continued to lift each other up with joy and love. Her posse welcomed me into their fold as we all rallied around my sister and her family.
I will never forget the impromptu posse gathering that happened over a delicious dinner at one of their houses on the night in between the two surgeries. We had persuaded my sister to leave the ICU during the evening shift change, and she walked into a home full of friends and kids and warmth on a frigid night. Having the foresight to pull out the crock-pot that morning, one dear friend created this delicious Cuban Pork meal that was inspired by another posse member who had lived in Key West for several years.
Cuban Pork1 large diced onion 1 3-6 lb. pork shoulder, butt, picnic roast or loin, trimmed of fat to fit in your crock-pot 2 minced garlic cloves or 1 t garlic salt 32 oz chicken or other stock ½-1 bottle Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice (depending on the size of the pork and how much you like lime) Spanish Rice (prepared according to package directions) 1-2 cans Black Beans (don’t rinse) 1 or more boxes frozen plantains (Goya works great) 2 T butter
Place the first 5 ingredients in order in the crock-pot. Cook on low for 8 hours or so. Remove pork from pot and shred with 2 forks.
Just before serving, melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the plantains until they are heated through.
To serve, layer Spanish Rice, add the heated black beans, then top with the pork. Surround the dish with the plantains.
Part of the beauty of this dish is that pork is so forgiving and easily modified to suit your own taste buds. It can feed a crowd with minimal effort, and the lime zing in this recipe gives the gathering a bit of a fiesta feel even when serious matters abound.
My family is so very grateful for my sister’s posse. Though my ‘tweener niece and nephew know that their dad is sick, they have been surrounded by such love and support that they have hardly missed a beat. In addition to the moments of serendipity and grace that have marked my brother-in-law’s heart repair journey, the steadfastness of my sister’s posse has been as important a life-support for their family as any of the doctors’ prescriptions.Gratefully, Alison & Ellen