Citrus-Glazed Pork Belly

I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a month, and I’m not sure why.   My love of uncured pork belly is well documented on this blog, and I’ve become determined to find as many delicious ways to prepare it as possible.  This is a very, very good one, and makes a lovely appetizer.

Like the other pork belly recipes I’ve posted, this one is braised the day before it’s finished and served, so it requires a little planning, although it’s not difficult to prepare at all.  It’s well worth the wait, though – the pork belly is rich and tender, yet crispy, and the glaze is is deeply flavored and intensely orange-y, without being overly sweet; you can adjust the amount of coconut sugar used, dependent on how sweet your oranges are.

And as with the other pork belly recipes posted here, the calorie and carbohydrate counts listed with the recipe are likely overstated, since much of the fat is rendered out during the braising and the vegetables are discarded.

Citrus-Glazed Pork Belly
Citrus-Glazed Pork Belly
Citrus-Glazed Pork Belly
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pork belly
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  2. Cut the pork belly into 4 equal pieces; place in small baking dish with the carrot, celery and onion. Pour the chicken stock over the pork belly, cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow the pork belly to cool in the braising liquid. Once cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.
  4. Bring the orange juice, tamari and coconut sugar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat slightly and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the sauce is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. Heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat until almost smoking. Place the pieces of pork belly fat side down in the skillet. Reduce the heat slightly and sear the pieces on all sides, about a minute per side, or until golden brown and crisp.
  6. Turn off the heat and brush the pork belly with the glaze, turning to coat completely. Slice and plate; serve with extra glaze.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 357 calories, 30.9g total fat, 42.6mg cholesterol, 496.8mg sodium, 312.3mg potassium, 11.1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 8.1g sugar, 8g protein

 

Spicy Crab Salad

I’m exhausted.

I was thrilled to be able to purchase half a bushel of green beans from our CSA farmer Saturday (for a mere $20, I might add), but not so thrilled with the prospect of pressure canning them (30 pint jars, all together) by myself.  Last year when we canned a like amount of green beans, there were three of us – me, Beloved and my Young Diabetic Friend – and we knocked it out in about half a day.

By myself, it took a day and a half.

Just cleaning, trimming and cutting them all into uniform-size pieces was a chore – it made the actual canning of them seem like a breeze.  And of course, there was the whole process of getting out both canners (pressure and water-bath), getting all of the jars out of storage, checking the rims and lids to make sure they’d seal, etc. etc. etc.  I’m not complaining; when a can of industrially-grown green beans can go for $1.75 at the grocery store, 30 pint jars of organic for $20 can be awfully attractive (so attractive, we’ll do another 1/2 bushel before the summer is up, along with tomatoes, pickles, carrots, squash, pumpkin and maybe even sweet corn, along with whatever else we can get our hands on).  Besides, it may be a bit of work, but I really do enjoy it – there’s something immensely gratifying about preserving the harvest of the season, and it’s even more gratifying to be able to grab a jar of green beans or tomato sauce from your pantry that you put there yourself, especially in the dead of winter.

At any rate, that’s not the only reason I’m tired; Jolly had an emergency she had to attend to Sunday, so it was Meema to the rescue!  I love having The G Man spend the night – we play outside, riding our Lightening McQueen tricycle and swinging and sliding on the play set in the back yard, coloring on the driveway with our sidewalk chalk and throwing the big Toy Story ball back and forth.  We water the gardens and pick up acorns out of the yard, and watch the butterflies flutter around the flowers.  Inside, we build castles with the blocks in the living room, and play with cars and the neat wooden choo-choo we got in Amish country; we play fetch with Scooter and chase him around the house.  Bubble baths are always popular, and so is playing with our boats in the kitchen sink, and (of course) climbing on the furniture.   So much fun…and so exhausting.

Especially when we have NO interest in going to bed, because Uncle Young One and his friend are watching television and playing video games and having a grand time.  So we watch Harry Potter movies until we fall asleep in Papa’s recliner, and Meema doesn’t get to bed until 1:30 a.m.  *yawn*

It’s days like this I’m grateful for pizza delivery for the boys (my Facebook status last night read, “There are little pepperoni hand prints all over my sofa…”), and simple dishes like this for me.  I was fortunate enough to find 1 lb. cans of blue crab on sale for $8 (normally $16.99) a couple of weeks ago, so I stocked up.  I also have a surfeit of cucumbers in my refrigerator, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to come up with the idea for one of my favorite dishes at our local Japanese restaurant – Spicy Crab Salad.

Simple.  Easy.  Quick.  Whole30 compliant.  And it makes a ton – it will feed eight to ten as a side salad or appetizer, and with the crab on sale it makes it cheap too.   A double portion of it was just perfect for watching Harry Potter go forth and do battle with all manner of magical critters (“Look, Meema!  It’s a dragon!  He’s got wings – he’ll fly away!!”).

Note:  Most of the time when you order crab salad at a Japanese restaurant, it’s made with imitation crab, so if you have a shellfish allergy or don’t eat it for other reasons, that is definitely an option.  However, there’s added sugar (along with other stuff), so if you use the imitation crab it won’t be Whole30.

Spicy Crab Salad
Spicy Crab Salad
Spicy Crab Salad
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 medium cucumbers, cut into matchsticks or thin strips
  • 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 pound crab meat, cleaned and flaked
  • 1 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/?p=9065″ target=”_blank”]mayonnaise[/url], preferably homemade
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon [url href=”http://www.amazon.com/Huy-Fong-Sriracha-Chili-Sauce/dp/B0002PSOJW” target=”_blank”]Sriracha[/url], or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber with the 2 teaspoons of rice wine vinegar. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. In another small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, Sriracha and ginger. Place the crab in a large bowl, picking out any bits of shell or cartilage, and stir in the dressing. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Drain the liquid that has accumulated from the cucumbers and divide between eight small bowls; divide the crab into eight portions and spoon on top of the cucumber. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish with cilantro, if desired, and serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 277 calories, 24.9g total fat, 88.8mg cholesterol, 302mg sodium, 249.7mg potassium, 4.8g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.8g sugar, 10.9g protein

 

Eat Mor Toona

I have to admit – I’ve been amused and bemused by the brouhaha over the whole Jim Henson Co./Chick-Fil-A thing.

Don’t get me wrong:  I absolutely, positively support same sex marriage 1000%.  I see no reason why gays shouldn’t have the opportunity to meet the wrong person, marry them despite the warnings of family and friends, spend years being miserable, pay a blood-sucking divorce lawyer thousands of dollars, spend more years trying to squeeze child-support out of a deadbeat non-custodial parent and complain bitterly about their ex to their family, friends, coworkers and that weird lady at the corner liquor store just like everyone else.

I also admire and support the Jim Henson Company’s decision to end their business partnership with the Atlanta-based Chick-Fil-A – bully for them.  But I also feel a little sorry for the people who are very likely stuck in the middle:  the owner/operators of the Chick-Fil-A franchises.

Like McDonalds, the majority of Chick-Fil-A restaurants are owned and operated by individuals with a franchise license, not the corporation.  I can’t help but wonder how many of these were some poor schlep with $5,000 who thought that owning a fast food restaurant sounded like a great idea, but still wanted Sundays off.  I can’t help but wonder how many of those infamous signs about the toy recall were posted by someone too embarrassed to say, “I’m sorry you can’t get a Muppet toy here any longer, but I’m an idiot who chose to do business with an intolerant asswipe and there’s nothing I can do about it now if I don’t want to file for bankruptcy next month.”

But more than any of this, I have one question for those who have chosen to boycott Chick-Fil-A due to their stance on same-sex marriage:

What the blue hell are you doing eating there in the first place?!?!?  Don’t you know that shit will KILL YOU?  If you’re that set on cheap, fast and easy, go home and eat some tuna salad.

Sheesh.

This is all very tongue-in-cheek, of course.  I do support same-sex marriage and feel nothing but pain and sorrow for Sally Ride’s partner of 30 years, who will not receive her federal benefits because of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Parmesan Roasted Baby Potatoes

As you might have guessed, we’ve relaxed our stance on white potatoes a little, especially this time of year when they’re coming into season and are in our CSA  basket and so ubiquitous at the farmers market every week.  We don’t eat white potatoes much in the winter, when we tend to consume our starches in the form of sweet potatoes and various winter squashes, but for now I really don’t see much of a problem with eating a small portion of these organic (to say nothing of delicious) white potatoes occasionally.

They’re mostly in the form of baby and new potatoes; we rarely, if ever, see Russets or baking potatoes.  The problem with that is that the skin of these tiny potatoes is thin and delicate, and you simply don’t peel them.  And guess who won’t eat potatoes with skins?  (I’ll give you a hint – he’s tall, snarky and perpetually surrounded by a cloud of Axe body spray so thick you can almost see it.)

So, the other night when I was making the Bacon-Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken Strips, I asked him if he wanted potatoes or rice and he replied, “Potatoes.  They’re more filling than rice.”  And heaven knows, at his age more filling is better, so I grabbed the potatoes and immediately wondered what the heck to do with them.  Me?  I like them roasted  whole, tossed in a little olive oil and salt and pepper, but I knew there was no way I’d get The Young One, bottomless pit or not, to eat them that way.

Then I remembered the Easy Roasted Potatoes I’d made a few weeks ago, and the enthusiastic response I got from the men of the house, both old and young.  So I found myself cutting the smaller of the baby potatoes in half and quartering the larger ones to expose some of the interior.  Then I tossed them with some melted ghee, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese and roasted them until they were crisp.

The verdict?  “These potatoes are a gift from the gods.”

I’d call that a win.

Parmesan Roasted Baby Potatoes
Parmesan Roasted Baby Potatoes
Parmesan Roasted Baby Potatoes
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound baby potatoes, such as Yukon golds
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Wash the potatoes and pat them dry; halve the small ones and quarter the larger ones. Place the potatoes in a large bowl; drizzle with the melted ghee, and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Stir with a large spoon until the potatoes are coated.
  3. Spread the potatoes evenly on a large, shallow-rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until the potatoes are crisp and golden brown.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 139 calories, 9g total fat, 24mg cholesterol, 78.4mg sodium, 351.5mg potassium, 12.2g carbohydrates, 1.3g fiber, 1g sugar, 3.1g protein

 

Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Laugh

This week’s Spin Cycle is “comedy.”

And I’m drawing a huge blank.

I used to write quite a bit about about my family and the funny things my kids said (even when they’re adults, kids can be funny) until it got to the point where I decided it would be better if I dropped the personal stuff.  This blog was evolving into a full-blown food blog, anyway, especially with the change in our diet, but sometimes I miss having a personal blog.  (No, don’t even suggest I start one, or Beloved may very well hunt you down and strangle you.)  I rather enjoyed posting the “sagas” over the last two weeks; it was like visiting an old friend you hadn’t seen for awhile.  It made me want to write more personal posts more often.

So I will.  After all, I have a life beyond my kitchen.  Believe it or not.

At any rate, all of my kids have a wicked sense of humor.  Oldest Son’s is razor sharp, a gift from his biological father.  Darling Daughter’s is more like mine; she often slays us with her droll and often hysterical observations of life.  The Young One has a very quirky sense of humor, much like his father.  Get the three of them together and, when they’re not being snippy with each other (as siblings are wont to be), and it’s like living through Amateur Night at a comedy club.

I’ve documented some of the truly funny thing’s they’ve said over the last 4 1/2 years (yeah, I’m ancient in blogger terms), and decided to rerun some of my favorites.

~~~~~~

Excerpt of a conversation between Oldest Son and myself:

Oldest Son:  So, what are y’all doing today?

Me:  Not much.  We may watch a movie later.

Oldest Son:  Oh, yeah?  What movie?

Me:  I dunno.  Beloved said something about Paint Your Wagon.

Oldest SonPaint Your Wagon?  Never heard of it.

Me:  It’s a musical.  From the 60s.

Oldest Son:  Anyone in it I’ve heard of?

Me:  Yeah; Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood.

(Silence)

Oldest Son:  A musical.

Me:  Yeah.

Oldest Son:  With Clint Eastwood.

Me:  Yup.

(More silence)

Oldest Son:  With singing and dancing.

Me:  Well, it’s been awhile since I’ve watched it, so I can’t say for sure that Clint is dancing, but he does sing.

(Yet more silence)

Oldest Son (scowling and squinting):  So, you wanna ask yourself:  Can you hit “high C”?  Well, can you…Punk?

Yes, it took me awhile to compose myself, too.

~~~~~~

Excerpt of an instant message conversation between Darling Daughter and myself***:

Me: Hey – did you know [Name Redacted] has a baby girl now?

Darling Daughter: He does?!!?

Darling Daughter: Oh, that’s exciting!

Me: yup, born sometime last year.  And you will never guess what they named her.

Darling Daughter: What?

Me: You’re gonna hurl…

Darling Daughter: Bella!?!

Me: YES

Darling Daughter: *EXORCIST VOMIT EVERYWHERE*

Darling Daughter: WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF

Darling Daughter: In the next couple of years there are going to be 2 billion baby Bellas

Darling Daughter: That’s so disturbing!

Me: ROFL – yes it is

Darling Daughter: I’m gonna name my baby “Illiterate”

Darling Daughter: We’ll call her “Illi!”

At which point I became incapable of speech, I was laughing so hard.

***It should be noted here that [Name Redacted] did NOT name his daughter after the character from Twilight, although I did not know that at the time (sorry about that, [Name Redacted]; I should have known better).  However, Darling Daughter was quite correct:  Jacob has been the most popular name for baby boys for the last 10 years, and Isabella has been in the top 10 – it has been one of the top 3 names for baby girls for the last 5 years.  *shakes head*  I guess “Edward” is too dorky, no matter how much you sparkle…

~~~~~~

The Young One has been the most difficult, not because he’s not funny but because he’s said so many funny things.  Here’s one of my favorites from 2010.

A little background information:  our favorite waiter at our favorite restaurant happens to share the same first name as Beloved (imagine that – a waiter named Beloved).  For the purpose of this post, we’ll refer to the waiter as Be.  Now, Be The Waiter loves us – we’re fun, naturally, we love food, of course, and then again – we tip well.  A couple of weekends ago we had an excuse to go to our favorite restaurant two nights in a row, the second night with The Young One and Miss J, who was visiting from Texas.

There were all sorts of indulgences that night, in the way of an upside-down banana rum cake that I shared with Miss J, and just a smidgen too much Hendricks gin for Beloved, who became quite, er, jolly.

How jolly you ask?  Well, when the dinner was over and the check paid, Be The Waiter came up to me and gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek, like he usually does.  This night, Beloved felt he should get a hug and a kiss instead of a handshake and said so.  Be The Waiter may have been a tiny bit startled, but not being one to offend a customer that consistently tips 20%, gave Beloved a warm hug and peck on the cheek (and, if I might add, probably enjoyed it, if you get my drift.  Nudge, nudge, say no more…).

I drove us home, teasing Beloved about being amorous with the wait staff at the restaurant.  The kids were in the back seat, rolling their eyes at us as usual, so Beloved turned around and asked, “I didn’t embarrass y’all, did I?”  (Are you kidding?  He was banking on it.)

“What?  Never!” exclaimed The Young One.  “We’re always up for a little Be on Be action.”

At which point I nearly ran us off the road from laughing so hard.

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For more humorous posts, head on over to Second Blooming, one of the best – and most amusing – Mommy Blogs out there.