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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sweet and Sour Pork

   Today I used the leftover pork I had from the pork roast from the other day. I made sweet and sour pork, as promised. Now this recipe can be accomplished in several different ways. Not working at a real job I elected to put a little more effort into it and used fresh carrots and fresh peppers, although you can certainly use canned or frozen carrots and frozen green pepper if you so desired. I also thought in honor of No Salt week it would be better if I used fresh, although I don't usually use canned carrots anyway, as they become mushy long before I like them to.
   So, I pulled out my trusty mandolin. If you don't have a mandolin, it is another item I wholeheartedly recommend; but I must caution you to ALWAYS use the hand protector--promise me you'll use the handle thingy to hold the vegetables. Okay, then.
  I scrubbed two carrots with a vegetable scrubber, sliced both the bottom and top off on an angle and whipped them over the mandolin. Done, and fast!

   I put the carrots in about and inch of water and simmered them for about 7 minutes. They still had a bite to them, but not crunchy. For reasons unknown to me, my family doesn't like crunchy carrots in their meals, except of course, raw carrots with dip,but that's a different blog, somewhere.
   While the carrots were cooking, I cut up a pepper into about 3/4 inch pieces, drained the juice from a can of pineapple chunks, reserving the juice in a measuring cup, and cut up the cooked pork into about 3/4 inch cubes. (I had to make sure there was no sauerkraut remnants left behind, also).
   When the carrots were done I drained them and set them aside for a bit. I beat two eggs with a fork and poured them over the pork in a small bowl. Sprinkled 1/4 cup cornstarch over the pork and, with a spoon, gently tossed the pork around in the cornstarch and egg to nicely coat it all.
   Then you heat a large skillet (10 inch will do) over high heat, add 1 tablespoon oil, not olive for this application, When the oil ripples toss in the coated pork and move it around with a flat spatula. Here you are browning the coating without trying to remove it from the pork. Flip the pieces over and over until they are light golden brown. Remove the pork and keep warm nearby. 
   To the reserved pineapple juice add enough pineapple OR orange juice to measure 2 cups. Add it to the skillet, add 3/4 cup of sugar (the sweet) and 2/3 cup of cider vinegar (the sour), 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, whatever brand you like. Stir in the green pepper. Cover and simmer 3 minutes. Add the carrots, cover, and simmer while you get 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water mixed in a small cup.Remove cover and slowly stream the cornstarch-water mixture into the simmering pot, stirring to avoid lumps. (here you can use your own judgment: if you want your sauce thicker, go ahead and mix and add more cornstarch-water mixture). When you get the sauce how you like it toss in the warm pork, and the pineapple chunks from the can (unless of course, you were REALLY good and used fresh--you get the idea). Stir and heat through. Serve over white or fried rice, with additional soy sauce and Chinese noodles, which are totally optional.
   Hubby told me that I haven't lost my touch, it was perfect--AGAIN! 
   Touchdown, AGAIN! 

Hope you enjoy yours. Hey, how about telling me how yours turned out?

Sweet and Sour Pork (can also use Chicken)

  • 3 cups cooked cut up boneless pork or chicken
  • 1 cup sliced cooked carrots (or 1-2 cans drained well)
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch-separated
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 can pineapple chunks in juice
  • about 1 cup of pineapple or orange juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons water
  • Cooked rice or cooked fried rice
Heat oil in 10 inch skillet. Toss the pork or chicken with the beaten egg in a small bowl, Sprinkle with cornstarch and gently toss to coat. Add pork to the hot oil and stir it around with a spatula, browning all sides. Remove pork and keep warm. Add enough pineapple or orange juice to the reserved juice to equal 2 cups, add to skillet. Add the sugar, the vinegar, and the soy sauce, stir to mix completely. Add the green pepper, cover and simmer 3 minutes, add the carrots, cover and simmer another 2 minutes. Mix 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 1-2 tablespoons water to make a medium thick slurry.  Swish it into the skillet, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. When you achieve the thickness you like, add the pork and the pineapple. Stir and heat through. Serve over rice or fried rice.

This would probably work with shrimp, as well. I would try using one pound of completely peeled and deveined shrimp, whatever size you prefer.

Apricot Jam

   Yesterday was National Taco Day, and since I didn't think I had anything substantial to tell you about tacos, I proceeded to prepare apples for canning apple pie filling, something I have done many, many times.
   The difference, this time, was that the canning website I use recommends hot packing apples rather than cold packing. Hmmm... I have cold packed the pie filling before and didn't have any problems, but trying to make sure I don't kill anyone with my canned foods, I cooked the pie filling. Problem with that is cooking the apples shrinks them, so I had to keep peeling and adding apples to get the full half gallon I was attempting to can.
   Why half gallon, you ask?  Well, I usually use just about two quarts per pie, with just a little bit that doesn't fit, so I figured that canning half gallons would make it easier on me. Just goes to show logic is not always what it seems.
   Why canning half gallons is so much more work, I cannot tell you, but it took me most of the afternoon to can ONE half gallon, only to find later on the internet, that the USDA no longer recommends canning half gallons, although they did not disclose the reason. Oh, bother! So not only did it seem like a lot more work, now I am running the risk of poisoning my family. Just great.
   I discussed the issue with my husband, and he said what I was thinking, "just use the half gallons first and don't can anymore." Glad we are on the same page on that issue. Luckily I have only gotten two done, one last week, and one just before I read the no-no from the USDA.
   Today, however, I am working on something I never thought I would get to work on. Homegrown apricots. Yes, you heard me right! (okay, read that right, okay?) One of the apricot trees we planted 25 years ago gave us some fruit. So it is not that this neck of the woods cannot grow stone fruit, just don't count on it and once every 25 years or so, you will be surprised!
   The fruits are not big, by any standard, but the test one proved to taste like apricots, so before they all fell off the tree (or the frost we are expecting tonight kills them), my son, the tallest, went out yesterday afternoon and picked the tree clean. Okay, so we only got 14 fruits, that's 14 more than we ever expected.
   What am I going to do with 14 small apricots? I searched and searched and finally found that the Ball® website has a calculator that allows you to put in the amount and type of fruit you have, and it tells you how much pectin and sugar to use. Who knew?
   So, I have already peeled the fruit, hey, our cockatiel likes apricot skins! Enjoy it, Buddy, you may never get that again! And as I type this my canning jars are in the water being sterilized.
   Skip ahead about two and one half hours. I got two cups of fruit from the apricots and thanks to the Ball® pectin calculator located at:  
I was able to make three 8-ounce jars of apricot jam. Scroll down after you get the calculation and they tell you what you need to make X-amount of half-pint jars. Well, I ended up with 2 cups of fruit after I cut away the bruises, so I was able to make 3 half-pints--no more half gallons for me, thank you!
   The jam came out a lighter yellow than any apricot jam or preserves I have bought, but, again, tasting the little bit that did not fit into the jars, it tasted just as good, maybe better, and knowing there are no sufites, or sulfuring agents that they use to dry apricots with, well, I am a happy camper. I brought the extra bit over for hubby to taste. He said, and I quote, "mmmm sweet!" and in my husband's language, that means "oh, yeah!"