I love that we now have a holiday, Islander Day, on the third Monday in February, to break up the long gap between New Years and Easter weekend.
There are so many ways to use this new day off: spend a half day skiing, skating or snowshoeing; pay a visit to a seldom-seen friend; embark on a big project such as cleaning the basement or organizing the family photo collection; watch a movie; clean out your closet; read a book.
You might want to spend part of the day in the kitchen, preparing some meals or doing some baking to put away in the freezer. If there are several cooks in the household, this is a good activity to share.
Here is my version of my cousin’s big-batch recipe for Applesauce Muffins. They are sweeter than classic muffins, and made by the cake method, so technically they are more like cup cakes. If you plan to send in school lunches, omit the nuts.
500 mL (2 cups) soft margarine
1 L (4 cups) sugar
1 L (4 cups) all purpose flour
750 mL (3 cups) whole wheat flour
20 mL (4 tsp) baking powder
20 mL (4 tsp) baking soda
10 mL (2 tsp) cinnamon
10 mL (2 tsp) nutmeg
1 L (4 cups) applesauce
500 mL (2 cups) chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Lightly grease muffin pans and set aside.
Cream sugar and shortening together. Add eggs and applesauce.
In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Combine contents of both bowls, and mix until just blended. Add the nuts and stir until evenly distributed.
Fill muffin pans, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. For applesauce loaf, bake 40 to 50 minutes.
Makes approximately 4 to 5 dozen muffins.
When you opt to spend a lot of the day outside or away from home, it is good to have a hot meal waiting in the slow cooker when you get in. Here are recipes for two slow cooker pork entrees.
I made several significant changes to the original recipe for Pork Roast with Chile-Orange Sauce, so that I could prepare it with ingredients I had on hand; the changes also reduce the salt content, for healthier eating. The recipe that follows is my version. It is fairly spicy, good if your family has adventurous tastes. If you prefer to tame it down, use less hot pepper. It goes well with steamed rice and a green vegetable.
Pork Roast with Chile-Orange Sauce
Adapted from Finlayson, Judith: The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. Second Edition, Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2011.
Use a large (minimum 5 quart) slow cooker
15 mL (1 tbsp) canola oil
1.2 kg (about 2 ½ lb) trimmed pork shoulder roast, bone-in
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium chili pepper, minced
22 mL (1 ½ tbsp) chili powder
1 mL (¼ tsp) salt
2 mL (½ tsp) coarsely ground black pepper
50 mL (¼ cup) all purpose flour
15 mL (1 tbsp) grated orange zest
375 mL (1 ½ cups) orange juice
In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Brown the roast on all sides. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
Drain off all but about 15 mL (1 tbsp) fat from the pan. Reduce heat to medium.
Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned.
Add garlic, chili pepper, chili powder, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add orange zest and juice and cook, stirring to scrape up any brown bits.
Pour mixture over pork. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until meat is very tender. Makes 8 servings
If you like your pork with a sweet fruit sauce but no spice, this slow cooker recipe is for you. It was, I’m certain, inspired by pork chops and applesauce. I like it with mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots.
Roast Pork with Apples
Adapted from Hensperger, Beth and Julie Kaufmann: Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook, The Harvard Common Press, Boston, 2005.
Use a medium or large round or oval slow cooker.
1 1.4 to 1.8 kg (3 to 4 lb) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of visible fat, and blotted dry
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 to 7 tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
50 mL (¼ cup) apple juice
50 mL (¼ cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
7 mL (1 ½ tsp) ground ginger
Preheat the broiler. Season the pork roast with salt and pepper and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brown it on all sides under the broiler or in a skillet over high heat to remove excess fat; drain well.
Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Put the apple quarters in the cooker and set the roast on top of them. Combine the apple juice, brown sugar and ginger in a small bowl and spoon over the roast, rubbing it all over.
Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce the setting to LOW and cook until fork tender, 7 to 8 hours. Transfer the pork to a warm platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve warm. Makes 6-8 servings.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at email@example.com.