OMG, I just realized it's April 1, 2010! Has anyone else been so caught up in this hectic life that you didn't realize the first quarter of the year is over?
Before we know it, Christmas will be here again.
Is it just my thought process, or are the hours and days of our lives spinning quickly out of control?
I know mine are.
Time has crept up on me, and I have to grudgingly admit that I'm not prepared for Easter dinner this weekend.
"Did you get a duck or a turkey for Easter dinner this year?"
"Are we having ham?"
"Are you making grandma's noodles and homemade mashed potatoes?"
"I'd love a pumpkin or sweet potato pie."
Um, I don't have any answers for my apparently hungry family. My husband has offered to cook dinner and look through some cookbooks for unique recipes for our holiday dinner while I'm at work tonight.
But, I think this year we will get everyone involved.
As for dessert, I just might let my kids go crazy in the kitchen Saturday afternoon. Between my daughter's love of everything chocolate and my son's passion for baking cakes, I'm sure they can create enough sweets for Sunday. (The dishes might be a problem, but I'm sure they can get them done before midnight!)
The homemade mashed potatoes, noodles and gravy are a staple on the menu. Everyone in my family looks forward to eating them during our holiday get-togethers. No matter how much I make, they always eat it all. I can do that Sunday morning.
My husband will probably tackle the vegetables for dinner. He also recently tackled making buttermilk biscuits, so I'm sure those will be on the menu.
That only leaves the matter of the meat course.
I'm tired of the traditional turkey and ham. It would be nice to have something different.
However, ducks are expensive and, although several stores advertised it, lamb seems to have flown off the shelves in many grocery stores. (The family was looking forward to a roast or meatballs.)
Beef is also out of the question because my father has a deep aversion to the flavor of beef not raised on the farm.
"It just doesn't taste the way it used to," he often tells me. "I don't like the smell of it cooking either."
That leaves an unusual, yet tasty, alternative: A pork roast.
Although an application of simple seasonings like salt, pepper and garlic usually makes a tasty meal, the main course of a holiday dinner, if you ask me, deserves a little more attention to details. Now the following instructions could appear time consuming, but the results are a culinary delight well worth it.
Our 3-4 pound boneless pork roast will be seasoned and cooked as follows.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Before using a spice rub, I use a 16-blade meat tenderizer to puncture holes all over the roast. Cover the meat with the rub, which consists of two tablespoons each of salt, white pepper and/or ground cumin and one teaspoon each of rosemary and fresh fennel sprigs. Make sure to massage the seasonings into the holes left by the tenderizer.
Place the roast with the fat side up in a foil-lined pan that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
Bake uncovered for 20 minutes to allow roast to turn a golden brown.
While waiting, make the glaze is made by simmering two tablespoons of butter with four tablespoons of orange marmalade, 1/4-cup honey or white (corn) syrup, two teaspoons garlic powder, one teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2-teaspoon black pepper and a splash of teriyaki sauce in a small saucepan until thoroughly blended.
Remove from heat and let cool.
At the 20-minute mark, turn the heat down to 200-350 degrees -- based on how hot your oven gets. The hotter your oven stays, the lower the temperature you need to cook the roast the rest of the way. Remove the roast to apply the first coat of glaze.
Return roast to oven to bake for 15-20 minutes before applying another coat of glaze. You will repeat this process at least three more times before checking the temperature of the roast with a thermometer, which should be between (or close to) 120-130 degrees.
Before returning the roast to the oven for the last cooking cycle, layer slices of apple or maple flavored bacon over the roast and then apply the last of the glaze.
If you have run out of glaze, use the drippings in the pan to drizzle over the top.
Return roast to oven and cook approximately another 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150-160 degrees.
Remove from oven and let stand for 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to return to the roast before slicing and serving.
Now you might not like the flavors I use, but that's all right. Use what your family likes.
This recipe works with cranberry, strawberry, lime and even grape flavored preserves.
Don't want to use all the preserves, then purchase a store bought savory-flavored marinade in place of the glaze recipe. Mix with a little honey/syrup and some spices your family likes before following the baking instructions.
NOTE: I have layered onions and fresh fennel on the roast before topping with the bacon in the last stage of cooking. Also, apple slices with maple bacon makes a great last-minute addition to the flavor of the roast. Remember, cooking is about experimenting with flavors you like and making a recipe your own. Have fun and enjoy the holiday with someone you love.