Sunday, December 04, 2005

Roasts and Cakes

When it's the time of month that we're pinching pennies, I realize I go back to cooking meals like my grandmother would. Big, inexpensive cuts of meat like pork or beef, or even a large chicken, that I can cook on a Sunday and have last throughout the week. And cakes or pies instead of the premium one-night pints of ice cream.

Last night I roasted a five-pound pork shoulder. It was $1.59 a pound. Of course, it was a bit fattier than a tenderloin would be, but at $8 it was a lot cheaper, too. I stuffed finely minced garlic into slits made with a small knife, then liberally seasoned with salt and pepper. A bay leaf went into the pan, and a lot of thyme went into a half-cup of white vinegar, which went over the roast.

The recipe I used said to cook it at 325 for 35 minutes a pound, but I don't think that was right. They missed something there--let it get to 150 degrees first, and then the 35 minutes per pound? Pork and chicken are those meats that my family just doesn't mess around with being undercooked. And of course, one thermometer said it was done, and the other didn't. I just sliced some up and ended up slowly microwaving them on low power till I knew they'd be quite cooked, while the roast stayed in the oven to finish cooking.

A gravy was made with the pan juices mixed in with canned chicken gravy (which I'd bought previously on sale). Yellow gold potatoes were cut into bite-sized bits and seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, and tossed in olive oil. I cooked those at 355 for about an hour, until they were well roasted on the bottom.

I quartered a cauliflower and carmelized one side of each piece in an iron skillet, then added some water to the pan and gently steamed. For the Bug I heated up creamed corn, and for the dh and me added a starchy treat of cornbread stuffing, which we'd had already in the cupboard (bought on sale, of course).

The dinner, overall, cost about $13, including tax. The leftover pork can be sliced up and eaten as is with the leftover sides, or cubed and cooked as sweet and sour pork, or chopped and eaten as a version of carnitas in burritos and tacos.

And then there was the white cake and chocolate icing, which were a total of $2.50. Since I cooked it in one 8-inch square pan it dried out a bit on the sides so the center could finish. I'd have cooked it less and had a less-done center if I'd thought of it. The icing is Duncan Hines, I believe, in the new big container and it says it's whipped. The flavor isn't my favorite. It doesn't have a rich chocolate taste to it; I think I taste the shortening more. The cake is worth about what it cost to make, though it smelled great while it was baking, and it looks nice.

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