I’m not going to write out the first paragraph of Jo Ann Beard’s In Zanesville for you, but it might be my new favorite intro. I re-read it at least four times before moving on, just giggling to myself. In Zanesville accomplishes the rare feat of being told from the point of view of a 14 year old girl while still being an entirely adult book. In fact, I’m not sure most young adults would be as amused as I was. It rings almost TOO true.
In the book, the main character (whose name you can figure out by paying close attention!) and her best friend Felicia navigate the sticky world of freshman year in 1970- something. There is babysitting, boys, obnoxious siblings, and popularity to be dealt with. This is difficult enough, but both our heroine and her best friend have a few home issues as well. Being as entirely self-centered as most teenagers are, they are typically more concerned with the food situation than anything else.
Felicia’s mom always makes junk food from packages, and this is seriously irritating to the main character. She wants that. Instead, HER mom makes homemade noodles and yells when they aren’t properly appreciated. There is also a scene involving a butcher relative presenting the family with an unconventional dinner that our recipe harks back to.
A couple notes on the recipe: I used a pasta roller, but a rolling pin and a pizza cutter work just fine. I also chose to use pork jowl in this recipe because a., the reason above, and b., it is just as tasty as pork belly at a fraction of the cost. My Farmer’s Market meat guy actually just gives them to me. I am positive any day now he will discover what I am getting away with.
2 cups flour
1 pork jowl (can sub shoulder)
1 onion, sliced
1 apple, diced
1 sprig rosemary
1 Tb fennel
2 Tb salt
1 beer (lager)
1 tomato, diced
Start with the pork. I used a slow cooker, but you can use a Dutch oven. Lay the onions along the bottom of your cooking vessel, and place the pork on top. Add the apple, salt, and herbs. Pour the beer in. Fill the bottle up with water. Pour that in too. Simmer for 6 hours.
Remove the lid, but don’t turn down the heat. Grab a potato masher. Smush the pork. It will fall apart and become pulled pork with zero effort on your part. Add the tomato. Let the liquid reduce, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. When it starts to thicken, turn the heat to low.
The pasta is outrageously easy. Stick the flour and eggs in a food processor. Process until a clump forms. Wrap it in Saran wrap for 15 minutes to rest. Roll it out and cut it into any shape your heart desires. Boil for 2 minutes, drain, and toss with the pork.
Serves 4-6. Make Jello for dessert, and enjoy a beer.