Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Shall We Dance?

Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork: slow cooked in a sauce with a bit of a kick, this versatile recipe can be served over rice, potatoes, or as a sandwich. | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner

Shall we dance?
I cannot get that song out of my head. It got in there pretty easily and, actually, by chance. I was scrolling through TV channels the other night when something on a channel I'd flashed past made me stop and go back. There they were, Debra Kerr and Yul Brynner gliding across the stage to Shall We Dance (sung by Marni Nixon), and I could not help but sing along.

What a flood of memories that brought back. I'm going to tell you a little secret but please, keep it to yourself. My mom had a crush on Yul Brynner. I'm not sure she ever actually said so, but she did. 

I can't remember how many times I'd seen this movie with mom, but it had to be a lot because I know the words to many of the songs. I remember mom singing along, as I was now. I bet she'd still sing along today were she to catch the movie. Neither of us can hold a tune if you gave it to us in a paper bag (as the old saying goes), but that sure as hell wouldn't stop either one of us.

It may have been the music and the dance that held me there, watching that old movie from the 50s, but it was the story that stayed with me. Or I should say the new lessons learned from the story when viewed through today's lens. A wholly different lens from which I'd viewed it in the past.
Not just in Siam, but it was also obviously such a different time in western culture. There were social norms, men bowed and politely asked women for the honor of a dance. There were customs, personal space was respected. There were shared ethical values, courtesy, civility, relationship rules. 

Also not just in Siam but in general, let me say that they were quite an unusual pair, dancing there. King Mongkut of Siam, a ruler with over 30 wives and concubines, and Anna Loenowens, a British widow, brought to Siam as a governess and to tutor the royal family in English and in western customs.
There's so much to unpack here and I won't do it all in this post (you're welcome), but what I walked away with, this gazillionth time I'd watched the film, is about loss and gain, society and direction. There would be no story here without an intelligent king with an inquisitive nature, global awareness, and an open mind.

It all starts here: sometimes when you take a chance and put together unexpected components, the results can be delicious. But you have to be open to it. Take a chance.

Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork: slow cooked in a sauce with a bit of a kick, this versatile recipe can be served over rice, potatoes, or as a sandwich. | recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork
King Mongkut was open to western culture, Anna would not have been there were he not. But he also was king, he was revered and obeyed. Without question. 
Promises were made to Anna that were not fulfilled right from the start (a separate home for she and her son). There were practices she was forced to conform to (always having to keep her head below that of the king's even if it required undignified prostration). She did not leave. Instead she made her points where and when and with the intensity that she could. She picked her spots, kept an eye on both the future of Siam, and the present greater good. The relationships was, for all intents and purposes, a dance.
I don't want to gloss over what the Siamese society of the 1800s was, the slavery and brutality, but my focus on this night was on the relationship between Anna and the King. And what I saw more than anything was the push and pull, give and take, intrinsic and gained respect, and the restraint, all of the intertwined components required to negotiate a successful symbiotic relationship. 
Every dance requires balance.

Shall We Dance, new insights inspired by an old movie | graphic deigned by, featured on, and property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

So, it's starkly different, how I view this whole story today as opposed to any other time that I'd seen it. It had always left me with hope, knowing that we, as a society, were moving forward. We were taking steps towards equal rights for all women, races, religions, sexual orientations. They may have been small steps, and they may have been a long time coming, but they were steps nonetheless. 
Today I can't help but be left with despair, a deep feeling of loss. We have taken so many steps back in recent years, not just in equality, but in the rights and freedoms we'd taken for granted.

There is now very little push and pull, give and take, respect, or restraint in this country. We have devolved into a society of just pull, we've broken off into camps grabbing for what we want and not letting go. But when there is only pull, only take, a lack of respect and restraint, there is no other possible result than for that at which we're all pulling to eventually break. 
Do I want us to go back to the days of slavery, misogyny, dictatorial governments? Of course not. But the 1860s do have some lessons to impart. Because ultimately society back then, though deeply flawed, functioned.

We have lost dignity, we have lost respect, we have lost decorum. But most importantly, we have lost the art of achieving balance.

Perhaps it's time to ask ourselves with renewed resolve: "Shall We Dance?"

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Spicy Crockpot Pulled Pork        


Printable Recipe

1 bottle (28 oz) Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
2 TBSP pepper jelly
2 TBSP sliced pepperoncini
3# pork tenderloin
OPT: 8 french roll buns, rice, or mashed potatoes for serving
*NOTE: This recipe can be served at the time of cooking, but is best when allowed to thicken, then served the next day.

*Grease a slow cooker and turn onto high. Add the barbecue sauce, water, bourbon, pepper jelly, and pepperoncini. Stir.
*Cut the pork tenderloin in half, lengthwise, then cut each half into about 5 chunks. Add to the slow cooker. Make sure the meat is mostly covered with the sauce.
*Cook on high for 2 hours. Stir, reduce heat to low and cook for 3 hours, stirring now and then.
*Uncover and remove from heat. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. 
*To serve same day: serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or as a sandwich in toasted buns.
*To serve the next day: allow the meat to cool and the sauce to thicken at room temperature. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Reheat in the slow cooker or in a pan on the stove.



  1. We're living in difficult times, and no one wants to do anything to make them easier.


  2. Excellent post, Karen! We have lost so much. Sadly, we seem unable to learn from our past. It’s right there. All we have to do is open a book. Or turn on the TV.

  3. No one has all the answers. The answers come when we all throw our ideas out and logically look at what results will be if they are implemented, then implement the best, regardless of who proposed them.

  4. People are so often narrow minded and judgemental which is sad

  5. This looks delicious and a WHOLE lot prettier than mine!

  6. Our minds are closed, and what will it take to reopen them? Can anything do that? I despair. We will never unite over BBQ, either. There are so many regional styles, even within a state (thinking here of North Carolina). Sweet, vinegary, mustard based, white mayonnaise/horseradish of Alabama, and probably some others. Even sauceless, and my brief time living in Texas long ago converted me to the sauceless/rub based Texas BBQ style. But I do keep a "somewhat" open mind in sampling other styles. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. Maybe food is a safe place to start trying to keep an open mind.

  7. Ah. A recipe that my husband would adore and I must try. Carol C

  8. I love a crockpot recipe especially in the Summer when I don't want to turn on the oven.

    1. I love that you can make big batches of food and have it for multiple recipes and multiple dinners.


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