K.M. described herself in a recent conversation as "coming from a long line of gardeners, canners and cooks." This summer she will learn canning skills from her grandmother, but she has a collection of family recipes. Here's her question: "Why do so many canning recipes contain sugar and some even flour? We have a celiac person in our family, and I would never have checked on ingredients in pickles."
Let's expand that conversation on the use of sugar to its common presence in salad dressings, as well as its overuse in many baked goods. Is it crucial as a flavor enhancer, like salt? Have you experimented with omitting sugar from pickles, from dressing, from anything? If you are a baker, how have you cut down on the sugar content of desserts? Do you have a formula to share?
The aforementioned K.M. keeps a collection of favorite recipes on her Pinterest board, where she found this crockpot pork recipe to answer your request. "I also have one for pork tenderloin, but it seems a pork loin would be a better choice. This calls for searing in a skillet in advance, and I wonder if it would work without that step, but I have not experimented. "
Crock Pot Garlic Balsamic Pork Loin
This recipe calls for a pork loin, which is less expensive than a pork tenderloin and will take more time to cook. However, because it is a lean cut of meat, it can get dry if you overcook.
3 pounds pork loin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/3 cup chicken broth
Pat dry pork with paper towels.
Combine salt, paprika, onion powder and black pepper in a small bowl; whisk to combine. Sprinkle the rub all over the pork.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet, and set over medium heat. Add pork, and sear for a couple of minutes on each side, until golden brown.
In a blender or food processor, combine remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic; process until combined and thickened. Add Italian seasoning, and whirl for just a couple of seconds to combine.
Add chicken broth to the insert of your slow cooker. Place pork loin, fat side up, in slow cooker. Using a pastry brush, brush the prepared balsamic mixture all over the pork loin. Cover the slow cooker with a lid, and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours, or on high for 3 hours.
Check for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat; pork is done when internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
Remove pork from slow cooker, and transfer to a cutting board. Cover pork with foil, and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Slice and serve. Makes 8 servings.
This pork pairs well with roasted green vegetables, roasted or mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower.
Next we will tread lightly on the topic of food and ask you to do the same from your kitchen.
A longtime reading companion, A.E., asked for more spring recipes, and so together we opened Ms. E's file and today offer several recipes to begin. Would you chime in?
Mexican Shrimp Salad
You can vary this recipe to suit your taste.
2/3 cup peanut oil or other preferred oil
2 tablespoons vinegar of your choice
2 tablespoons chutney, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons orange juice
Blend all ingredients well, and set aside.
5 small heads Bibb lettuce (or your preferred mixture of greens)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, cooked and peeled
3 large oranges, peeled and sections
Red onion, thinly sliced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
2/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts
Toss all ingredients for salad except peanuts. Add dressing, and toss to mix. Just before serving, add peanuts. Makes 6 servings.
This recipe appeared in the local paper long ago, attributed to Mrs. John Stout.
To prepare gazpacho you may use the blender or a food processor.
1 large can peeled tomatoes
1 small cucumber, peeled and cut in pieces
1/4 of a large green pepper
1/4 medium-size onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup canned tomato juice or V-8 juice
Dash Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend together, and chill thoroughly. You may add a dollop of sour cream in each cup with a garnish of chopped parsley on the sour cream.
Cucumber Sandwich Spread
This warm-weather treat came from the expansive file of Ruth Holmberg, the late publisher of The Chattanooga Times.
4 (8-inch long) slim cucumbers
Vinegar-salt solution for marinating
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons sour cream
2 or 3 shakes garlic salt
Scrub cukes, and put through a food grinder or chop fine. Marinate an hour or more in a mixture of vinegar and salt.
Drain well. This takes time.
Cream together cream cheese, mayonnaise or sour cream and garlic salt. Stir in drained cucumber mixture. This may be tinted pale green if you are serving on open-faced sandwiches. Mixture will keep well in a closed Mason jar several weeks in the refrigerator.
Once again we have spent days in the home of a remarkable young hostess and cook. She has a gift for making everything seem effortless; turn your head and there's a meal. And she is paying attention to each diner's particular needs, which is quite a challenge these days. With pizza, add a plate of Greek chicken for the carb-conscious. Always feature a salad with plenteous colorful ingredients so that it will be enough to make a meal, for vegetarians; serve a no-sugar dressing on the side, just in case. Set out a Southerner's most necessary tea on a counter full of well-marked pitchers. Which freshly prepared pitcher has caffeine, sugar or artificial sweetener? It will all be clear. Make your brownies from scratch, and serve them simply on a family heirloom plate.
The only downside? Our hostess is so thorough, and so thoroughly loving, that her guests can't be much help.
She also modeled provisions for houseguests. In the bedroom, there was a basket of individual trail mixes, breakfast bars, something small and sweet ... and bottled water. Extras not edible: flowers from her yard in a milk-bottle vase, a knitted throw at the end of the bed and a few photos of the guests' family on the chest of drawers.
And then there was her farewell box: a chicken salad sandwich for the regular guy; chicken salad lettuce wraps for the gluten-free, a side or two and a canned drink. All on ice.
She packed these provisions in her most recent HelloFresh container; this is a twice-a-week order that gives her a break from decision-making as she and her husband sit down in their empty nest.
How about you? Have you ordered meals from Blue Apron, HelloFresh and the like? How do they fit into your whole meal plan?
Now it's your turn.
— Fehn's Russian dressing
— Mount Vernon's sweet celery dressing
— Thoughts on sugar
— Experiences with mail-order meals
TO REACH US
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send, and know we cannot test the recipes printed here.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750