Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hot-Spiced Pork and Rice

This is really more like a pork and rice stew. It was really simple to put together and tasted awesome when it was done. The leftovers taste even better today.

I got the recipe out of "Ultimate Casseroles"- which is a supplemental magazine published by Better Homes and Gardens. I am such a sucker for the glossy magazines at the grocery store...with their photos of heartachingly-rich dishes on the cover...promising warmth and gooiness.

Anyhoo- I bought it and have now made 3 things out of it, with a 4th on the docket for this afternoon (Black Bean Lasagne to take to a New Year's gathering).

Here's the recipe:

2 to 2 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast (I used already cubed pork stew meat)
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium carrots, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
1 8 ounce can water chestnuts (I didn't have any so I left them out)
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons white corn syrup
1 to 2 teaspoons red chili paste (I had curry paste and it was fine)
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/3 cup sliced green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut meat into 3/4 inch pieces. In an extra large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. Cook meat, half at a time, in hot oil til brown. Transfer meat to an ungreased 3 quart rectangular baking dish and stir in carrots, sweet pepper and water chestnuts. I didn't have a 3 qt. dish so I used my dutch oven and it worked fine.
Add the remaining oil to the skillet and cook onions til tender. Add rice, cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, soy sauce, molasses, corn syrup, chili paste and five spice powder. Cook and stir until it all comes to a boil. Add to meat mixture and stir to combine.
Bake, uncovered, about 1 hour or until meat and rice are tender. Let stand, covered, for 10 more minutes before serving. Garnish with green onions and serve.

This was so good! It was sweet and spicy and very warm. Next time I'll add more veggies. I think mushrooms and cauliflower would be great additions. You could really use any combination of meat and/or veggies you wanted.


I suppose there are dozens of good reasons for me to be homesick right now: the holidays, time off from school, snow on the ground, bone chilling cold, etc. But whatever the reason, I am truly homesick. Maybe I should say I'm "Southsick."

I could go on forever about the differences (geographically and culturally) between my adopted home here in Colorado and my actual, soul home in the South. But as many of my old friends will agree, it really comes down to a state of mind.

I have tried several things to combat this intense homesickness I feel. I tried making a batch of home made pimento cheese- that should have instantly made me feel better- but it didn't. I played some Johnny Mercer on my laptop- that made it so much worse. I texted my friends who still live there, hoping to be cheered by some contact with them- but it's just no use. I'm in a funk.

The only thing that seems to make me feel any better is thinking about our road trip home this summer. Finally we will be driving instead of I can bring more stuff back with me. Perhaps if I transplant some of my favorite things about home to here, they'll take root and help me survive the painful separation! I suppose I should start making my list of must-haves.....

Nina Simone

I know nothing about this artist, but I am totally in love with this song and this video.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's Snowing....Again

You know, the first time it really snowed here, and by really snowed I mean we got 18 inches dumped on us overnight, I secretly thought it was kinda cool. We got a day off from school and everything looked beautiful!
Fast forward less than a month, and after living with the remnants of that first snow storm (it hasn't been warm enough to melt much off), it's snowing on us again. I find my attitude changing. Now it just means snow tracked in the house, and eventual slushy messiness everywhere. But it is still beautiful.
Trying to look on the bright side, at least I have an excuse to stay in and try out a few new recipes. Tonight I am trying a pork and rice stew. Hopefully I'll remember to take some pics and post them here.
I'm also catching up on reading my food blogs. Everyone seems to be posting their lists of the best cookbooks of 2009. So far I only see 2 I am interested in: 'Wichcraft and Hungry Monkey. The first is a cook book all about sandwiches and the second was written by a food critic who is trying to raise his son not to be a picky eater.
I guess I'll end this rambling, non-focused post now. I must go check on the progress of my pork defrosting project.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Meaningful Discourse

One of the things I miss most about Savannah is my book club.

I always looked forward to book club Monday. We had a very diverse, intelligent and lively group of women. I should be using present tense, since the book club still meets, I just don't get the pleasure of attending anymore.

However, this morning, Dev and I met some fellow teachers at Starbucks. We sat around and talked. We talked about school, family, books- anything that came to our minds. It felt so good to sit in the company of friends and discuss things. It almost felt like book club all over again. We even talked about starting a book club group. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about the prospect of that.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can all find some time for meaningful discourse...

On Vacation...

So many things to write much laziness. Oh well- that's what vacations are for, right?

I think I'll start with the food. The one thing I was most looking forward to during the break was a chance to spend some quality time in the kitchen.

Dev's parents came to stay with us for Christmas, and I wanted them to eat well. Wednesday night was our first meal together, so I wanted it to be special. After giving it some thought, I went with seafood.

Using Diane's patented shrimp breading technique, I fried some shrimp and served baked potatoes and barbecue beans.

Thursday morning, we had hashbrown casserole and bacon with fruit salad. The hashbrown casserole recipe was from a Paula Deen cookbook. It was fairly simple- a bag of frozen hashbrown potatoes, sour cream, grated cheddar, and a can of cream of chicken soup.

Dinner brought about a pork loin roast with smoked gouda macaroni and cheese and peas. The pork was dry rubbed, then roasted at 375 degrees until it registered 150 degrees on a meat thermometer.
Christmas morning, we enjoyed baked stuffed french toast with buttered honey. For Christmas dinner, Dev made game hens with stout gravy. Dev's mom and I added cranberry salad, spaghetti squash and wild rice salad.

It seems like I've done nothing but eat since school got out. And with this week off, too, I'm sure there will be a few more adventures in the kitchen before I head back to work!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cranberry Sauce

IMG_3476, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Yet another award winning food photo (ok, I know it's bad).

This is the cranberry sauce I made for the potluck Christmas party Friday afternoon. It is Tyler Florence's recipe. I liked the fact that it was made from whole berries. I didn't like the tartness that much. I ended up increasing the sugar, and it still tasted too tart for me. Other people seemed to like it, so I guess it was ok. You can go here for the recipe.

Corn Casserole

IMG_3477, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Here's another awful picture. I could have taken it out of the tin foil, huh?

This is another of the potluck dishes I've had to make over the course of the week. This particular dish is Paula Deen's Corn Casserole. It turned out pretty well. If I do it again, though, I'll add a can of spicy green chile to it, to cut the richness and sweetness. You can go to here if you want to see the recipe- it was very easy.

Pasta Salad

IMG_3478, originally uploaded by All Things Mimi.

Is this not the worst picture of pasta salad you've ever seen? I'm not proud of it, but I've had so little time to cook since September, taking professional looking pictures isn't even in my top 50 things to do.

Anyhoo- I needed a salad to take to a Christmas party, so I decided to throw this one together. There was no recipe. I bought some refrigerated cheese tortellini, chopped up some pepperoni, diced a block of part skim mozzarella cheese and threw in some marinated artichoke hearts. I tossed it with a little homemade balsamic vinaigrette and that's the end of the story. Except for next time, I'll add olives. It needed the zing.

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