Monday, June 25, 2012

Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes! - National Jr. Hereford Expo

This past summer, we took one of our annual family vacation.  This vacation is not a location most families would call exotic or exciting.  But for the over 1,000 people in attendance, the National Jr. Hereford Expo each summer is exciting, highly anticipated and worked toward, and one of the vacations of choice for my family and many others from across our nation.  Through corn fields, wheat fields, over the mighty Mississippi river, and across a few plains, our pick-up truck, loaded with Hereford heifers and one bull this year will make the trek once again for a week full of reminiscing, competitions, good food, and fun!  

Hereford enthusiast come by usually by pick-up truck with one or more head of Hereford/Polled Hereford cattle in tow in a trailer behind them.  Show boxes are packed along with luggage.  Snacks that are both homemade and store bought are packed in coolers and lock boxes ready to feed the hungry kids for this eight day week of a show.  We all look forward to the 'Jr. Nationals' each year in breed associations across the nation like the Hereford, Angus, Beefmaster, Shorthorn, Simmental, and Santa Gertrudis.   Its a time to reconnect with good friends and cheer each others children on.  Because when it's all said and's not about the winning, but the memories and friendships made along the way.

It is at the national show last year in Kansas City, Missouri, that our girls and others will competed in numerous contest like Illustrated Speaking, Livestock judging, Hereford Quiz Bowl, Showmanship, and Team Marketing where those chosen to compete on the national level market one of their Hereford heifers to a group of judges.  They showed their cattle in showmanship contest and cattle shows, and mostly visited with their friends they haven't maybe seen in over a year.  Its always fun to watch the kids start to reconnect weeks before the show by text, email, and Facebook.  It at these shows that our girls have learned that winning comes from the hard work at home before you come to the show! 

This past summer was extremely special to us as our middle daughter Bethany served as National Hereford Queen for our associations.   It was an honor she did not taken lightly and the support and encouragement she  received from our friends and fellow breeders was tremendous.  Last year Bethany wanted to host the first ever National Hereford Queen's Tea for women and girls in attendance and state queens who will competed for her position in October when she handed over her title.  We were extremely pleased with the turnout for this first annual event and all the little girls in attendance got to meet all the Hereford royalty and take pictures.  Our friend Diane Johnson, of Details by Design of Fort Worth, Texas gave an etiquette lesson and overview of 'tea' for all in attendance that was well received.  Her lesson came full circle when our youngest daughter Audrey and friend Blake remembered how to unfold and place their napkin in their nap at lunch one day at the Golden Ox Restaurant!  To put it simply, it was a perfect afternoon.  However, I could not have pulled it off without the last minute help of my dear friend Barbara Metch of Texas and our new Texas Polled Hereford Queen Sarah Smith, Texas Hereford Queen Kim Wilson and her mom and Sarah's friend from Texas, and  Mrs. Lambert of the American Hereford Women.  Many thanks!  And yes...even Queen Bethany helped prepare for the Tea before getting into her official white dress and crown! 

As a tradition of sorts and a way to eat healthier, we got together with our good friends the West from Channing, Texas and cooked several nights for our families and 'crew' of helpers there to assist with our cattle.  One night I enlightened everyone palette to one of my families favorite meals of pork roast and sweet potatoes.  Similar to a pot roast, this dish was easily cooked in one of my large roasters and ready to eat in under 3 hours.  Along side this, we had rolls, green beans, and tons of desserts left over from our tea!  The pork roast was a real hit and most had never had it prepared in this way. 

Throughout the week we continued to cook great evening meals.  I made my anticipated Chicken Spaghetti for a Crowd.  I sometime get ribbing about serving chicken at a cow show...but there is never a drop left and all the teenage boys attest that this is their favorite dish of all that we make during the week.

Due to the high heat and humidity, cattle were not tied out in their outside stalling area until after dark.  We are all pretty picky about keeping our long haired cattle cool and 'fresh'....I often say we care more about our cattle's hair than our own!  It's nice to have dinner at around six o'clock and not at 9:30 once cattle are tied out for the night.  It makes for cranky kids and tired parents.   I want to say a special thank you to the many families who helped chip in and serve fantastic dinners, especially to the West's help and the McCall's Hereford roast one night!  I hope to soon have her recipe as it was beyond good!  Dena Floyd was our Texas Jr. Hereford Director in charge and she did a fabulous job making sure all our kids were at their contest and we had snacks set out throughout the week for our hungry juniors and hot lunches for our state association.  Due to the generous donations of our Texas Poll-ettes group and an anonymous donor and contributions from families in our state like ourselves, we all saved a dollar or two not eating out every meal and making it convenient for us all to stay at the barns. 

Our family enjoyed our week immensely!  Our little Audrey showed so well with her cattle!  She showed all our three head as Bethany was consumed with her queenly duties of helping out in the ring and with official winners pictures.  Audrey placed for the third year in a row in the top three in PeeWee Livestock Judging...the first year when she got second we thought it was a fluke..then the next year she got first and then this year she received third out of over probably 50 or more kids ages 7 - 9 years old.  Bethany won the Illustrated Speaking Contest with her speech over Methane Digesters...look that one up...we do try to be green in the cattle industry!!  As I said, overall it was a great week!   It's memories I write about here and the ones I have on film that I hope you'll get a glimpse of what we do in and out of the show ring living what we enjoy most! 

So, today I will share with you this easy 'Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes'.  Sweet potatoes are not necessarily in season right now, but you can still find them in most grocery stores.  I happened to find mine at the local downtown Kansas City Market.  That was a story in itself that I got to experience several mornings in a row.  It is an international market of sorts and was like a dream for me to go there each morning....I kind of wore Bethany and Audrey out on it as we went 3 out of the 7 days were were there!  I love a good deal and where else these days can you find cantaloupe for a dollar or a packet of strawberries for that price as well? 

The recipe below for our show was multiplied by 4.  That means 4 large pork roast and about 20 pounds of sweet potatoes.  That large amount easily fed 40 people or more.  My Chicken Spaghetti For A Crowd fed over 50 that is also listed on my blog recipe page that I routinely serve at Jr. Nationals and the State Fair of Texas, Fort Worth Livestock Show and Houston Livestock Show. 

This year we are anxiously looking forward to Jr. Nationals in Nebraska!  To those states who will be hosting us, the Nolan family thanks you.  We realize the long hours of planning a Jr. Nationals such as ours takes.  Our girls are both very excited to catch up with their friends across the country and compete once again in this annual summer trip!

To our Texas crew - Chicken Spaghetti on Wednesday at the Nolan's stalls....making enough to feed our ya'll come by!

Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes

1 large pork roast, approximately 4 lbs. in weight
6 - 8 sweet potatoes, skinned and cubed in 3 x 3 cubes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to season
water to cover roast 3/4 the way up the sides

In a large roaster place pork roast seasoning each side with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Cover with water to 3/4 the way up the roast.  Top with sweet potatoes.  Season with more garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Cover with your pot lid.  Cook for 1 and 1/2 hour or 2 hours on 375 degrees.

When pork roast begins to fall away from the bone the roast is cooked.  Take the pork roast out of roaster and allow to stand for five minutes.  . 


Try this at home sometime.  It's a taste of the south and a tradition in our family and a real comfort food for us.


My Italian Green Beans, Pork Roast and Sweet Potatoes and our garden tomatoes served up at Jr. a few people to love sweet potatoes!

 Audrey with Snoopy and Lucy at the show.

Audrey showing her heifer.

Bethany and State Queens 

Good luck this year to Amanda Bacon, 2012  National Hereford Queen from Arkansas!
This is a picture from when Bethany gave up her sash at the American Royal National Hereford Show in Kansas, City, Missouri back in October of 2011. 

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