Saturday, May 01, 2010

It’s a pork fat thing…

Well, this isn’t all of it (or even half of it, actually), but here’s this morning’s haul:

Food haul

Whew. Nothing says “Happy Saturday!” like a first-thing-in-the-morning run to the farmer’s market, a warehouse-like store and the supermarket, huh? Speaking of which, though, the farmer’s market is back from the dead! The winter run wasn’t that good for anybody, with only one or two vendors actually sticking it out and not a whole lot going on down there. But today when I got there promptly at 9:00, the street was already packed with tents and loaded with goodies.

Missing from the picture is…hmm…fifteen pounds of pork, fifteen pounds of beef roast, fifteen pounds of ground beef (lots of fifteens there, hadn’t really noticed that before), eight pounds of ham, twelve pounds of breakfast bacon, four pounds of bulk sausage, eight gallons of milk, five dozen eggs, fifty pounds of flour, an enormous bag of tortilla chips, three boxes of Food Saver bags (good coupon for those this month), three whole chickens (which actually came out of the freezer – I buy them whenever they go on sale for under $0.80 a pound), twelve cups of frozen shredded hash browns, a half gallon of sour cream, eight pounds of butter, five pounds each of cheddar, mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese, a big old jar of minced garlic, and lots of freezer bags full of carrots, beets, peas, and zucchini that are from the garden.


Favorite things in all this mess…our supermarket often has a couple carts near the front of the store with steeply discounted stuff in them. Banged up cans, things nearing their expiration date, stuff with older labels than the most recent delivery, or holiday items for holidays past.

I love treasure hunting…today, I got two pounds of dry organic red kidney beans for $0.25 each, and a pound of brown rice mix for $1.00 (usually around $4.50).

sale sale sale

Then I found some beautiful brown mushrooms at the farmer’s market. Added to the cooking list today: A big old batch of wild rice and mushroom soup. Woot!

This is something I get at Smart and Final, which is kind of like a “Costco Lite.” Their prices on the super-basics tend to be higher than Costco, but they have areas where they really shine…and this is one of them:

Bacon Bits and Ends

This costs about a buck a pound – it’s basically bacon trimmings, all the little raggedy ends and too-thin or too-thick bits that do not meet the quality control standards for regular breakfast bacon. When you cook it up, it frequently comes out more like bacon bits than bacon-bacon, but the flavor is still bacon-awesome. Great for flavoring soups, beans, etc. etc. etc.

I can’t wait for the little apple tree to start producing apples…don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted that the Denizens love apples, but gee whiz, this is an awful lot of them, isn’t it?

Apples apples apples

This is a fairly recent discovery for me: #10 cans of tomato products.

#10 where are you?

What we have here is tomato sauce ($2.99), diced recipe-ready tomatoes ($2.99 again) and Heinz (name brand, even!) tomato ketchup ($3.29). Granted I’m going to have to use my own containers to store the ketchup once I crack open that bad boy but still…that’s half the price of the “regular” bottles.

And, this. Local honey, from the farmer’s market.

Local honey

Eating local honey can help with allergies – a teaspoon a day can really help the old hay fever. And my personal hay fever season is about to kick into high gear; it’s always when the grasses are starting to dry out that I start to sneeze, itch, have eyes that think they’re auditioning to be stand-ins for Niagara Falls, and suffer from nasal congestion that always leads to a sinus infection (I get infections every time the wind blows, which irritates me no end…I get a cold, I end up on antibiotics almost immediately…also, if anybody in a thirty mile radius of me has strep throat? I’ll get it. ARGH.) (This does not fit into my Personal Perception of Self, which is a lot more She-Ra, you know?!).

ANYWAY. Yesterday, I did the pork…so I thought I’d post up the recipes on that before I get started down there on the beef-stuff…

Honey-Ginger Marinade for Pork

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark apple cider vinegar (or light) (or just plain old cider) (you know, whatever is on hand, who am I to tell you what kind of specific vinegar to use for Pete’s sake, like I’m some sort of vinegar expert or something, geesh…)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger or 1 teaspoon finely minced crystallized ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce

For freezer meal purposes, put six pork chops into a gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Mix all these ingredients together and pour them over the chops, then lay flat in the freezer to freeze up.

The morning you want to eat them, set them in the fridge to defrost. Then you can either bake them at 350 degrees for between 30 minutes and an hour and a half (this depends entirely on how thick the chops are – thicker will take longer, thinner will be done sooner) (my little half-inch ones usually take half an hour, which is largely why I slice them so doggone thing) (well, that, and the fact that we Americans eat way too much meat in the first place, so having less meat and more whole grains and vegetables on the table is an excellent idea that might lead to my husband finally losing some of that weight he’s been kvetching about, like, forever and I am all for that because I’d like the dude to hang around for a lot more years, thank you very much)

I used this same recipe for the stir-fry pork slices. Let it marinate for at least thirty minutes, drain and discard the marinade, heat up a skillet with some vegetable oil and cook until no longer pink. Not that they look pink anyway because the soy sauce kind of makes them look, uh, brown.

Cranberry-Orange Marinade for Pork

3 cups cranberries (look in the freezer section if you didn’t buy a few extra bags around Thanksgiving and freeze them)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Half an onion, minced
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Start with the cranberries, water and orange juice. Put them in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat and keep them simmering until the cranberries start popping – which is awesome and fun. This takes roughly ten minutes. Let cool slightly, then run through the blender to puree. Wheeeeeeee! (The original recipe says to peel the cranberries…I, uh, kind of don’t bother doing that. But if the skins bug you, by all means feel free to peel them.)

Add the rest of your ingredients, whisk it up and then set it aside to cool. When it’s back to room temperature, layer up your pork chops in your trusty Ziploc, pour the marinade over them and pop them in the freezer.

Same cooking instructions as the honey-ginger version.

Pork Pie Filling

This is really simple, which is good because when you’re cooking a whack of meals all at once, “simple” becomes your favorite word.

1-1/2 pounds pork, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup butter or vegetable oil
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-cracked pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
2 cups chicken broth
and then the options…
2 cups mixed vegetables
or maybe
2 cups peeled, chopped apple (which is awfully good, but does make for a distinctly sweeter meal)
or even
1 can of whole-berry cranberry sauce – look for one that is minimally sweetened. You can also replace some of the chicken broth with cranberry juice; I like it best with “real” unsweetened cranberry juice-juice as opposed to cranberry cocktail, but I’m kind of weird that way. I have a horrible sweet tooth when it comes to cookies, pies, ice cream, etc. etc. etc., but then I’ll turn right around and say I don’t want my pork pie to be “too sweet.”

Heat your butter or oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add your onion and bell pepper and sauté until some of the fight has gone out of the onions and they’re nice and tender – you don’t have to stir constantly, but making a regular habit of it helps prevent burning. Raise the heat up to high, add the meat and stir until it’s no longer pink. (No soy sauce to hide behind this time, pork!) Add your flour, salt, pepper and sage and stir until it’s all blended in; then lower the heat to medium again, add your chicken broth, and stir constantly until it thickens up. The constant stirring is important here, otherwise you’ll get ugly lumps and do not taste nice.

Reduce the heat to as low as you can. Then cover it and let it barely simmer for a good forty minutes, until the pork is tender and awesome. Stir in your vegetables or apple or cranberry sauce, remove from heat and let it cool all the way down to room temperature.

Then bag it up and freeze it flat.

When you’re ready to eat it, take it out of the fridge that morning and let it defrost in the fridge while you do other things. Then you can put it between two pie crusts and bake it at 375 for about forty minutes (or until the crust is nice and brown), or you can put it in a casserole dish and warm it up at 350 while you make some mashed potatoes, then top it with the spuds and maybe a sprinkling of cheddar and put it back in for just a few minutes to brown the potatoes and melt the cheese. Or, if you’ve gone the cranberry route, you know what else is good? Mashed sweet potatoes or yams made with a little cream and a dash of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.

Hokay. Right. Beef stuff. Here we go…


Louiz said...

Makes me wish we had a bigger freezer!

Fibra Artysta said...

THANK YOU! I've been looking for some good simple pork recipes and these sound great! I will give them a try.

Elizabeth L in Apex, NC said...

Awesome! Thanks for the recipes - and "Good on ya!" for that bulk shopping! I love all the cheap eats. My friends and I purchase produce at the wholesalers at the FM and a huge box of apples costs around $20, red peppers often $25-30, 40# of bananas is often just $15. LOVE IT!

Lois B. said...

Your marinade sounds like it would work for chicken also. We don't eat pork. I'll have to try it. Your shopping and organizing are impressive!

Nicole said...

holy jeebus, that's a lot of food!
just wondering if you have an executive membership at costco? my parents have one and they live in a house of three, them and my 16 year old brother, who could probably plow through all the food you just prepared in less than 2 weeks.
every 3 or 4 or 6 months, i can't remember, you get a cheque back worth 2% of whatever you spent there.
i haven't had my morning tea yet, so my math is broken, but it might be worth looking into for a family as large as yours. larger up front cost, but the return in the long run may be worth it.