Practical, healthful eating and living.

How to get out of cooking and keep costs down, too. August 29, 2010

When I get home after work I am HUNGRY and don’t want to fuss with making dinner.  Here’s what I do instead.  On Saturday, I go to Whole Foods and look for the cheapest cut of fresh meat in the butcher’s section.  Yesterday I found pork shoulder for $2.99/lb.  When most other meats are priced at $4.99 $15.99, that’s a steal.  Why is it so cheap?  Well, it might have a little more fat to it. It might be on the bone.  But both of those add flavor.  Fat, actually, is rather essential to keeping a cut of meat moist and flavorful.  It cooks off.

How to cook? There are a million ways.  If you have carrots, celery, onion and garlic at home, you’ll always be prepared to make something wonderful.  A lot of roasts do better if they’re resting on a rack in a roasting pan.  If you don’t have a rack, just place 2-3 carrots and celery stalks (minus the leaves) on the bottom of the pan.  Rest your meat on top.

You can roast beef, pork, or chicken without a lot of spices or flavoring added, then serve it with barbecue sauce or another favorite meat sauce.  Even salsa is delicious.  All of these are easy to keep on hand.

If you want more flavor IN the meat, it’s easy to create a marinade out of a few simple items.  Google the cut you’ve bought, or keep a basic Betty Crocker or Joy of Cooking cook book on hand.  Below is the recipe I used yesterday from  I couldn’t be more pleased with how the roast turned out.  It took about ten minutes to create the marinade.  The next morning, it took only five minutes to turn on the oven and place the roast in its pan.  (I didn’t follow the steps beyond roasting for an hour and a half; no extra water, no checking every 1/2 hour, etc.) An hour and a half later, it was done.  (My roast may have been a little smaller than 7 lbs.)  Now I have tasty slices to add to a Romaine salad or a quick sandwich, and it will last me the week!


  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (7- to 7 1/2-pound) bone-in pork shoulder with skin
  • Accompaniment: lime wedges

Mash garlic to a paste with 2 tablespoons kosher salt using a mortar and pestle or side of a large heavy knife, then stir in oregano, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and  pepper.

Pat pork dry. Using a small sharp knife, cut a wide pocket at large end of roast to separate skin from fat, leaving skin attached at sides and stopping before roast narrows to bone.

Make 1-inch-deep slits in pork under skin and on all meaty sides, twisting knife slightly to widen openings, then push some of garlic mixture into slits with your fingers. Rub any remaining garlic mixture over roast (not skin). Wipe skin clean, then rub with remaining teaspoon kosher salt (to help it crisp). Transfer pork to a glass or ceramic shallow dish and marinate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.

Put pork, skin side up, in a flameproof roasting pan, discarding marinade, and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F with rack (or rows of carrots and celery) in middle.

Cover pork with parchment paper and then tightly with foil (or just foil) and roast 2 1/2 hours. (I stopped here.)  Discard foil and parchment, then add 1/2 cup water to pan and roast, uncovered, adding more water when liquid in pan evaporates (check about every half hour), until skin is browned and crisp and meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours more. Transfer to a cutting board or platter, reserving juices in pan, and let stand 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour pan juices through a sieve into a fat separator or bowl and discard fat. Add 3/4 cup water to roasting pan and deglaze by boiling over medium-high heat (straddle 2 burners if necessary), scraping up brown bits, 1 minute, then add to pan juices along with enough water to bring total to 1 1/2 cups.

Cut skin off roast pork. (If skin is not crisp, roast in a shallow baking pan in a 475°F oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.) Cut skin into serving pieces. Pull meat from roast in pieces using a fork. Serve meat with pan juices and pork skin.


How to pack a salad for lunch August 21, 2010

Filed under: Easy food prep,What I'm eating now — beansandyoga @ 1:05 pm
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I love a salad for lunch in the summer time.  It took some trial and error, but now my lunches get looks of envy.

“Is that Balsamic dressing? I’m going to make a salad just like that when I get home!” said a co-worker yesterday.

Make a salad well, and you’ll have the best lunch in the room.  Combine things too soon, however, and you’ll have nothing but green mush.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1.  Pack the salad dressing separate from the salad.

2. Add the salad dressing immediately before eating.

3. Undressed salads, complete with meat, carrots, nuts, and other fruits and veggies will keep very well in a plastic container for about 24 hours.

4.  A few slices of roasted meat go a long way toward keeping me full and energized for the afternoon.

5. Dried cranberries or raisins add a snap, helping to round out the flavors.

6. Other typical ingredients I use: Romaine lettuce, sliced carrots, sliced apple, sliced raw zucchini, jicama, sugar pea pods, pears, raw unsalted nuts and crumbled goat cheese. (Avoid highly citrus or juicy fruits such as pineapple, as they may cause your lettuce to spoil.)

7.  I keep a salad spinner of washed, torn Romaine lettuce in my refrigerator.  When I’m ready to make a salad, I simply grab and go.

8.  I keep all the other ingredients together, as I rarely go through an entire apple or carrot for one lunch’s salad.

9. I prepare the UNDRESSED salad the night before.  Stored in a one-serving container, I keep it refrigerated until I leave for work the next day.

10.  By lunch time, the salad is still fresh and crisp.  Rather than bring a whole bottle of dressing to work, I bring one serving at a time in a small, plastic container.


Afternoon Energy Boost August 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — beansandyoga @ 7:21 pm

I love an afternoon snack of Clementine oranges and Babybel Gouda cheese.  Eaten together, the oranges give you a refreshing burst and the cheese provides a protein boost.

Both can be bought in amounts that will last about a week at a time or longer.  Both can be easily tossed into a lunch bag at the last minute, and I confess, I keep my snacks at my desk.  Usually, however, I do have a container of either frozen soup (to be heated at lunch) or a mix of berries and yogurt frozen into a single serving container.  That is all the cooling needed for this snack.  When that mid-afternoon slog hits, I reach for these and perk right up.