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Butter Together: Everything old is new again

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

A couple years ago, Zack and I decided to stop giving our children gifts for Christmas. Sure, we still stuff stockings with lip balms and hair supplies, chocolates and an orange in the toe. But the piles of wrapped gifts became too much: too much to hunt down, too much to make equal, and honestly? Too much to pay for. 

 

Instead, we plan a family trip. Zack and I decide the location, and the girls find out where we will go on the day we celebrate Christmas.  

 

At first, we were afraid our kids would miss the trappings of the traditional American Christmas; where are the boxes, the bows, the piles of paper?  

 

What we have discovered, though, is that our kids love it. Our middle daughter, Zayley, recently told us that she plans to continue this tradition with her own kids if she has any. Not bad for a measure we took primarily to help us hang on to any shred of parental sanity we have remaining by the end of December. 

 

Theoretically, planning a trip allows us to spread out the financial burden of Christmas gift-giving over a longer period of time and pace ourselves accordingly. But let's be real here: those sales always suck me in anyway. (Curse you, month-long Black Friday deals!) 

 

That's why this time of year is perfect for "rubber" meals, where I can cook once and the main protein will bounce back and feed us a second time. I have this idea that some of these meals could feed us a third time, too. It doesn't usually work out that way for us, but your luck may be better than mine -- or your appetite, smaller. 

 

Cooking a whole chicken and using all the meat and carcass is probably the most basic of these types of recipes, but I also like using a pork loin for a little variety. These recipes will make a pork loin for the first night and fried rice the next.  

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected] 

 

 

 

SLOW COOKER BACON GARLIC PORK LOIN 

 

 

 

Pork loin, trimmed of fat (The original recipe suggests a 3-pound loin. I get whatever is on sale.) 

 

1 tablespoon canola oil 

 

Salt and pepper, to taste (I use pink Himalayan sea salt) 

 

4 garlic cloves, minced (I use jarred, minced garlic) 

 

1/3 cup light brown sugar 

 

8 slices thick cut bacon 

 

 

 

  • The night before you intend to cook the loin, trim the extra fat. Place it in a slow cooker bag. Rub the loin down thoroughly with oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and sugar. (Full disclosure: I don't measure any of this except the brown sugar.)  

     

  • Wrap the loin as best you can with the bacon; drape it over if you must. Use a twist tie to keep the bag closed and place the whole shootin' match in the refrigerator overnight. (Note: you do not have to do this ahead of time, but the flavor of the meat will be better and your morning will be less stressful if you do.)  

     

  • The next day, place the bag in the slow-cooker and remove the twist tie. Place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook 4-5 hours on low if you used a 3-pound loin. If you have a temperature probe on your slow cooker, cook to an internal temperature of 145 F. When it's cooked, the bacon will still look limp and gross, so if you want a prettier presentation, broil the loin on a baking sheet in the oven for a few minutes. Serve with a green vegetable -- I like broccoli or zucchini -- and a huge pot of rice. Be sure to prepare enough rice to have leftovers for the next meal. 

     

    (Source: Adapted from dinnerthendessert.com) 

     

     

     

    SCRAMBLED RICE  

     

     

     

    3 tablespoons butter, divided 

     

    1/2 medium onion, chopped 

     

    2 teaspoons minced garlic 

     

    2 cups cooked cold rice 

     

    3 eggs 

     

    Salt and pepper, to taste 

     

    Frozen peas or leftover cooked vegetables, chopped fine 

     

    Leftover pork loin, chopped into bite-sized pieces 

     

    Soy sauce (or coconut aminos), to taste 

     

     

     

  • Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chopped onion and cook a few minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute. Add cooked rice and stir to combine. Push rice mixture to the edges of the skillet.  

     

  • Place a tablespoon of butter in the middle of the skillet and allow it to melt. Crack eggs into the melted butter and sprinkle them with salt. Stir and cook eggs until they are about halfway set. Add vegetables, diced pork, and several shakes of soy sauce and mix everything together. Keep stirring until eggs are completely cooked through and the mixture is no longer shiny. Taste and add more salt, pepper, and soy sauce as needed. Enjoy! 

     

    Note: this recipe is very forgiving and is really just a basic recipe of proportions. I usually go heavy on the egg and light on the rice. 

     

    (Source: Adapted from hillbillyhousewife.com)

     

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