Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Once In Awhile, I Cook

Every once in awhile, the stars align and I actually cook a substantial meal for me and the hubs. When I say "stars align", I actually mean that my baby-mama exhaustion subsides (enough to cook), my mind is able to plan ahead enough to have all ingredients on hand, my mood rises, and the temperature demands I turn on the oven. How my mother did this at least once a week (of course, she always cooked for us, but we had a huge, rivals-Thanksgiving meal every Sunday) with four kids and no spouse is miraculous to my tiny brain.

I recently had a friend ask where I get my grassfed meat. Generally, when we're at a farmers' market (at this time of year, the all-year Cooperstown indoor choice), we stock up, big-time. I make this meat stretch quite a bit. We don't do very much in terms of beef, but I'll occasionally use the ground beef (way cheaper) for chili or shepherd's pie.

Unfortunately, between time restraints and other obligations, we've been unable to get to any farmers' markets or co-ops. At times like these, when I know we haven't had a "meat 'n potatoes" type meal in awhile, I opt for meat that doesn't hit all of our checkpoints. It may not be grassfed. It may not be certified organic (my local grocery store doesn't stock organic meats...hmph) and is fed a "vegetarian diet" (I assume this means it includes corn, probably genetically modified...double hmph). But, it was treated humanely and without the use of antibiotics. Gotta weigh the options sometimes and make unfortunate compromises. It's not worth starving, I suppose.

A couple of Sundays ago (not daylight savings; the one before that...yeah, it's taken awhile to write this!) was one of those times. I'm trying to maintain a semblance of a grocery budget by allowing myself only to use the cash I've withdrawn for this purpose, so since it's early in the month, I *wisely* took a look at all I'd like to have on hand for a few weeks. So, the aforementioned meat was purchased; this time, a pork tenderloin, some boneless pork ribs (Crock Pot time, baby!), and some stew beef. See? All things that will make at least two meals. Oh, and I already have some ground beef, chicken breasts and a wayward turkey breast in the freezer, for the record. ;-)

I went off-the-cuff (once again) for the meal since I couldn't quite find what I was looking for in my cookbooks. The meal was: mustard maple roast tenderloin with carrots and mushrooms (a way to add flavor but not force the shrooms down Dave's throat), an all-natural boxed rice pilaf I needed to use up, and wassail-inspired homemade applesauce. Here's what I did for the pork and applesauce (and, if you try this, please be forgiving -- my memory is like an open window; things fly in and out willy nilly; feel free to say "yo, wait, that temperature sounds wrong" and I'll probably say, "I bow to you. You are correct. I'll go stand in the corner for 30 minutes now. And probably nap." Also take note that I like to "wing it" when cooking.):

Roasted Pork Tenderloin

- ~1 lb. pork tenderloin
- a teensy bit of salt, good amount of pepper
- dijon mustard (or we happened to have a beer and balsamic mustard spread that I've gotta use up)
- a drizzle of honey
- sprinkle of rosemary (or sage)
- extra virgin olive oil for pan and veggies

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rinse and pat dry the pork tenderloin, then coat with mustard, honey and seasonings. Bake, uncovered, for about 35 to 45 minutes or until internal temperature is about 160°F. I also used the roasting pan to roast some baby carrots and mushrooms (also in olive oil and seasonings).

Side note: To get the pork more caramelized, you can quickly brown both sides in a pan before putting into the oven, but lower the cooking time and keep checking for internal temp.

Wassail Applesauce
- 4-5 apples (more or less, depending on how much you want to make), peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. cloves
- splash of orange juice

Combine all ingredients in pan. Bring to boil, lower heat and allow to simmer until apples are soft. Mash with potato masher (you want to keep some of the texture). Add water if you need it looser.

No comments:

Post a Comment