Preparing the pork without the oven

The rule in my house as a kid was that if it was 32.1 degrees or higher, the clothes were hung outside. If it was 32 degrees or below, there was a line in the basement for all clothing except sheets and towels, which could then be thrown in the dryer, but for no longer than 45 minutes. If you needed light to read or eat by, you turned only as much light as required and you turned it off when you were done. We had a car, but it was mostly for getting to church and grocery shopping. Otherwise you walked, took a bus or rode your bike. We had a central fan, but never air conditioning. We had heat, but it never climbed above 58 degrees. Hair dryers were banned and ironing was allowed only if you did all the ironing at once, so as not to drain the world of the energy that it took to bring the iron up to temperature every time you wanted a crease in your pants.
I am no newcomer to saving energy and I admit that there were times when left alone that I would go so far as to turn on the entire oven to warm up a piece of bread or get the dryer going for a tiny tee shirt or stand in front of the refrigerator for minutes with the door open, just looking. Just to feel what it felt like to be wasteful.
The thing is, once your blood and bones have been conditioned to conserving, cheater though you may be on occassion, you can never really go back. As much as I would like to power up my oven for every roast, potato and piece of toast I fix, I find myself braising, boiling and grilling instead. I like to think of it as authentic. In Tuscany or Umbria for example all the baking was saved up for Saturday and done in a village oven. Roasts were done on top of the stove, and toast was grilled over the fire. (Try using your cast iron frying pan with the grill marks in it in case you don’t have a roaring fire going by your kitchen sink.)
I love pork loin seasoned on all sides then seared on all sides until it is a beautiful chestnut brown all over, then set into a pan of simmering whole milk so that the milk comes up covers the bottom third of the roast. In the milk you want to add five leaves of fresh sage, a few pieces of lemon zest that has had all of the pith removed, and five or six whole cloves of garlic that have been sauted to a golden brown. (You can saute the garlic before you do the meat. Just remove the garlic when you sear the meat and reserve, adding them back to the pan when the milk goes in.) Cover the pan with a piece of parchment, and then a lid set so that it is askew, allowing steam to escape. There is no need to turn the meat, and it should cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at low simmer, for a 5 pound (organic) loin. If you stick a meat thermometer into the meat, bulls eye, right into the center of the end, it should feel hot to your lip. (between 150 and 155 degrees). Allow it to rest for at least five minutes out of the liquid. The liquid will have reduced to golden curdle. The garlic will be really soft at this point. Smash it into the sauce with a fork and heat and pour the sauce over the meat to serve.
This delicious with soft polenta and broccoli rabe or swiss chard.
It’s easier to do without when it tastes good and doesn’t feel so much like taking on the vows of a Carmelite.

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