Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's astounding, time is fleeting - Maple Barbecue Sauce and a Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole

Whatever my little wake-up-and-feel-awful incident was yesterday, it got worse.  One hour in the office, one hour in my car, eyes closed, but the weakness would not pass.  I went home and crashed on the couch for 6 undisturbed hours.  A truly rotten day.  And it could have been caused by anything, I suppose, because in the past I have tested low for iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B-12.  Low blood sugar has plagued me over the years, as has fibromyalgia, the never-ending menopause, and that pinched nerve in my upper spine.  What a drag it is getting older, eh?

Having said all that, I still consider myself to be in pretty good health.  I hate to be slowed down, and when it became obvious I could no longer take Lyrica, a wonderful drug for nerve pain, because my weight was racing to the top of the charts at an alarming rate, I told fibromyalgia it could kiss my grits, and kept marching forward.  Most days are pretty good, it's just that yesterday was not one of them.

Someone who could use your prayers is my godson Peter, seen here with his sister and their dad, the Headless Horseman.  Monday, Pete is having open-heart surgery up in Tennessee.  Peter was born with a congenital heart condition which has caused him to have to endure multiple surgeries over the years.  Even as I write this, his mom, my cousin Sheryl, his dad, the Headless Horseman (or as we usually refer to him, Gary) and his sister Stephanie, are on their way north to be with him.  Love and prayers for Peter and the entire Depp family.

With last weekend being our wonderful mini-vacation in Georgia, I've let the cooked food supply approach zero, and that means this is a food-shopping and cooking weekend.  Whoo hoo!  The menu is going to be driven by what we find on our shopping expedition in the Expedition, but just in case nothing inspirational jumps out of the case, I pulled plunder from the freezer, a delicious pork loin, and set it out to defrost.

That pork loin was roasted with a generous coasting of my mother's barbecue sauce, which is good enough to serve on wood chips, but does better on succulent pork, as you will see if you try it.  I also found another fine find in my freezer, which will go perfectly with the pork:

That's a sweet potato casserole, sweeter than it probably needs to be - I prefer a baked sweet potato topped with butter - but it happens to be perfect for upcoming Thanksgiving tables, when everyone expects their yams to be topped with a thick layer of melty marshmallow.

Before those recipes, a peek at the rest of my weekend:

There will be some sort of beef stew with baby bella mushrooms, sweet and tangy chicken,  and yet another pasta salad, this one with marinated bocaccini (baby mozzarella).  I'm hoping to do some other stuff; at the top of that list is a very special apple cake, made with the very special apples I picked up in Georgia this past Monday.  So many recipes, so little time ... no doubt my cooking plans will slop over into the work week.  Won't be the first time.

Pork Loin with Maple Barbecue Sauce

I like to buy one of those enormous cryovac'ed pork loins that I find in BJs warehouse.  I cut them right down the middle, and if I am planning on using a fruit stuffing, I freeze one of those halves uncooked.  This time I skipped the fruit stuffing, cooked both halves at the same time, and froze one of them for future use.

Pat the pork dry and season with anything that suits your fancy.  Kosher salt, ground black pepper, sweet or hot paprika, granulated garlic, and the list goes on.  Or pick your favorite commercial spice blend, or google Steven Raichlin and try one of his spice blend recipes.  Pork is so versatile, you can cook it right away or put it into the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.  If you are using my grandmother's barbecue sauce, I would recommend you don't use smoked paprika or any smoke-infused blend, as it will totally override that nice maple flavor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (375 works also) place the loin on a rack in a nice aluminum tin (I love you, Cousin Steve!) and roast it for about 45 minutes.  Check your temperature with a meat thermometer - it will probably read between 95 and 105 degrees - pour on some of the sauce, and return to the oven.  Check the pork every 15 minutes.  Pour on a little more sauce, and watch the internal temperature.  Once the pork reaches 145 degrees, it is done and you can remove it from the oven to rest.   The sauce should be nicely glazed but if it needs a little nudge, turn on the broiler for just a moment, keeping the oven door open and never taking your eye off of it.   When the sauce is set the way you like, take out the pork roast and let it rest.  I  like to do the slicing with an electric knife, and slice it fairly thin.  Serve the pork with some of the sauce spooned over.

Maple Barbecue Sauce

2/3 cup Log Cabin Original maple flavored syrup
3 to 4 tablespoons Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons French's yellow mustard
2 scant tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
a few drops Tabasco sauce, optional
kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Place all the ingredients into a screw top container.  Shake well to combine.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before using.  Always shake the container before using the sauce.

Don't bother trying this with real maple syrup, it doesn't work.  It's got to be the maple flavored syrup and it's got to be Log Cabin.  Also, don't put this in a blender nor use beaters or a whisk to combine.  That will cause the mixture to emulsify, which will turn your nice pourable barbecue sauce into edible sludge.

The sauce works on any kind of pork dish, and on chicken as well.  And now, the sweet potato casserole.  I found this in a cookbook written by Carnie Wilson.  I'm not sure if anybody except other post-surgery gastric bypass patients ever bought it, but it has quite a few delicious recipes in it, and almost none of them are dietetic.  This is one of them.

Sweet Sweet Potato Casserole

2 large cans cut yams (Bruce's), drained
1 - 21 oz. can apple pie filling
1 - 21 oz. can cherry pie filling
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 bag of small marshmallows
dried apricots, prunes, and/or raisins, to taste (I like raisins)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a greased baking dish, layer the sweet potatoes with the apple and cherry pie fillings.  Dot with butter, sprinkle with some of the cinnamon, and throw some of the dried fruit and marshmallows over, then sprinkle with some of the brown sugar.   Repeat the layers until everything is used up, ending with marshmallows.  Bake for an hour; if the marshmallows get too dark or start to burn, cover with some aluminum foil to finish baking.  Let this cool down a bit before serving.

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