It’s Friday. Congratulations you made it to another weekend. I hope the week was kind to you and the coming weekend is full of adventure.
Ok, courteous pleasantries out of the way, let’s cook.
Four days a week WizKid and I are blessed to have Mr. Sweet Butter home with us. This means that with WizKid in virtual school and my darling stud husband home, grazing lunches are gone. You know those days where you just snack on things in the kitchen. My boys needs food to nourish their bodies and minds throughout the day which in turn ensures the peace and satiety prevails; two things that only a full, satisfied belly can bring. If you have men in your home that prefer not to cook, you understand just how quickly chaos and disorder can descend when growling stomachs turn loving men into hungry trolls.
I’m ok with this. Truly I can’t complain. First off I enjoy cooking, it’s my muse, my therapist, my meditation, and my kitchen is my kingdom; the one place in the house where I reign supreme. I dictate all the rules, what goes into my kingdom, what comes out and where everything goes. Mess with my kingdom and things get ugly.
Secondly WizKid is learning to cook. He’s an avid learner and can already conjure up some pretty amazing treats and handle a real knife like a pro. He’ll be giving Gordon Ramsey a run for his money in no time.
Thirdly, Mr. Sweet Butter doesn’t need to know how to cook. As long as he can find his way around a microwave and toaster oven; reheat leftovers; we’re good. He does so much for our family. He does the dishes, washes all the laundry, cleans the bathrooms (including the toilets) and vacuums. On top of this he helps us work out, cuts the most perfectly sculpted head of hair and could snap a mans neck with his bare hands if he needed to. Thankfully no one has threatened his family and he’s pretty even tempered so it hasn’t come to that. He’s like Mr.Clean, Mr. Romance and a mighty warrior wrapped in one big 6′ 2′ 230 lb wall of beautifully forged steel. Yes I adore him and sorry, I don’t rent his maid services out.
Taking care of my men’s bellies is the least I can do. The one road block that used to stand in the way of this mid-day task and that is my job; my wonderful, secure and rapidly growing job. I’m blessed my job allows me to work at home but I actually find I work more with my home office only a few feet from my kitchen (and bed) than when I got in my car and drove to work every day. Taking time during the day to cook up extravagant lunches is a luxury I don’t have.
One thing I’ve learned is to create bigger dinners and have plenty of left overs. The second thing I’ve learned is to maximize and multiply. I call it the “Thanksgiving Effect”. Every year we create these big dinners and then are left to finding 101 ways to use leftovers for a week. Why just wait until Thanksgiving for this? Do it all year around and suddenly having wonderful meals in a moment become your key to adding time to your day.
Take this dish for example. I made a big pork loin for dinner. (the second time I used an entire pork roast). We ate half for dinner and then during the week we used the rest for Cuban Sandwiches for lunch. Those are a huge hit with the Man Warriors big and small.
This recipe was pulled directly from FineCooking.com and I did alter it a bit. I found the original recipe called for far more salt than needed. I’m fairly certain my normally healthy blood pressure took a tour of the stratosphere with the first roast. Outside of that the flavors of spices and apple cider infused into the pork by way of a good long soak bath in the brine were simply divine. If you want to get really ahead of the game, save the brine after the first pork soak and then use it again for a second pork roast. Store this one in the freezer until ready to cook.
After the soak, the whole thing cooks on a bed of fresh cut green apples which are used after as a topping for the final dish. Here I served it with wilted spinach salad.
I’m happy to say I’m getting smarter with lunches, leftovers and finding time to do what I love, for those I love. Thankfully my Man Warriors haven’t turned to trolls in quite sometime. They’re so much cuter without the green bulging eyes, warty skin and crazy hair.
Do you have time saving tricks use employ in the kitchen? Please share them with me, my brain is usually drained of all logical thought by the end of the day and ideas like this tend to come to me in moments of inspiration (or sheer exhaustion).
Enjoy the Pork and your weekend!!
- 8 cups Apple cider or juice
- ⅓ cup Salt
- ¼ cup Light brown sugar
- 4 Cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 3 tablespoons dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon Pepper, ground or 4 whole Pepper corns
- One 4-lb. boneless pork loin roast (or two 2-lb. loins).
- ¼ cup Maple syrup
- 3 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp. Fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 teaspoon. Ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon Ground cardamon
- 1 large fennel bulb or 2 small bulbs, quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- OR 1½ teaspoons fennel seed, ground through food processor
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a large saucepan, combine 2 cups of the apple cider, the salt, brown sugar, garlic, and thyme in and bring to a boil over high heat until salt and sugar are completely disolved.
- Add the remaining apple cider and cool to room temperature. Transfer to a large container, add the pork, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, mustard, cardamon, thyme and pepper.
- Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
- Brush the pork all over with the mustard mixture.
- In a separate bowl, combine the fennel, oil, salt and pepper then add the apples and toss to coat well.
- Scatter the mixture in the bottom of a roasting pan large enough for the pork and saving space along the edges of the pan.
- Put the pork on top of the fennel and apples with the fat side up.
- Roast the pork until the crust just starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F in the thickest part of the pork. 30 to 50 minutes more.
- Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- Thinly slice the pork. Serve, topped with the fennel, apple, and juices.