Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cheap Pork and Pea Pods

Um, okay, so if you haven't noticed, we're in a recession. The unemployment in my county just dropped down to 15.0% from a high of 18.3%. I think we can come to one or two conclusions here. 1) the economy is getting a teensy bit better and/or 2) recessions are not good in rural areas that depend on the automotive industry. Either way, it pays to be cheap.

I'm very very blessed that my garden is flourishing and that we have a chunk of pig and lamb to eat up before the county fair next month where we will most likely be buying a new pig and lamb to eat. We also have what seems like 30 pounds of green beans in the fridge. Anyone know something good to do with green beans?

Last month, while hunting for a job (which I've pretty much been doing all summer), I just happened to be wandering through the Borders ( fyi- you need to apply to them online) and found this book Eat Cheap but Eat Well by Charles Mattocks. Charles Mattocks is apparently "TV's The Poor Chef" but I'm sorry to say I've never heard of him. Anyhow, I've made a couple recipes from the book and they are tasty! He has a recipe for Stuffed Pepper Jack Peppers that's worth the cost of the book, but we ate those so fast I didn't have time to take a photo.

On the next page is a recipe for Beef with Pea Pods. Now, we do have a bunch of beef in the freezer also, but we don't buy a cow at the fair. And remember that chunk of pork? Well that's what I used instead. I believe it was a fresh ham steak package. The peas in my garden had become home to a family of rabbits by this point so I bought the peas. I have to tell you that this was delicious, cheap, and really fast to make. And I really like Mr. Mattocks' idea that just because you are eating cheap, it doesn't mean you have to eat crap (like a certain TV "chef" who decorates her kitchen to match her "tablescape" and uses prepackaged processed garbage instead of just chopping a vegetable).

Cheap Pork and Pea Pods
as adapted from Eat Cheap but Eat Well

1 pound pork (I used a fresh ham steak, but I think any cut would work)
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp canola oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 pounds fresh snow peas, stemmed
1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 cups hot cooked white rice

Cut the pork into bite size slices about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside

In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend in the soy sauce and 1/4 cup water. Mix well with a wire whisk to remove any lumps.

Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until a sprinkle of water causes it to "pop". Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they begin to release fragrance, about 30 seconds. Add the snow peas and water chestnuts and cook, stirring until the pea pods are crisp tender. 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the mixture into a bowl and set aside.

Add another 1 or 2 Tbsp of oil to the skillet and then add the pork. Cook, stirring, until the pork is done, about 3 minutes. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the pan, stir with a whisk, and then add the cooked vegetables. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Serve with the rice.


glamah16 said...

I'm all about the cheap, but good eats. I found a meat wholesellaer the restos go to in the west loop and stock up by weekly for peanuts!. Love using pork because its so versatile.

Peggy said...

Grandma had a recipe for brown beans and green gravy, It used a fresh pork shoulder, green beans, potatoes, and the gravy was made by browning white flour.