Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cooking for One (Continued)

I really loved Jamie Oliver's effort to persuade American families to stop feeding their kids unhealthy foods and to wake up to the horrible abuses of wholesome cooking being perpetrated on our young folks. Of course he's not the first or only person to point out the ridiculousness of the U.S. Government standards for school lunch nutritional balance (ketchup as a vegetable, two carbs, God-knows-what byproducts in prepared luncheon meats, etc.) But it was a much-needed reminder we do not have to be obese or stupid.
I have been lucky to know how to eat healthy since I was a kid. Over time, I learned how to cook and I have been able to help my daughter with her cooking skills as well. We know cooking is not only fun but almost a survival skill in a culture surrounded by convenience foods. In defense, I have been working on my own convenience foods, minus the mystery crap in "prepared" foods at the supermarket. I know I can make better-tasting, more healthy, attractive, nutritionally balanced meals than anything in the frozen-foods section at the supermarket. And it is waay less expensive.
I cook for myself, and supermarket quantities are often intended for bigger families. So, as I've said before, I try to plan my purchases and my menu to account for the difference and to minimize waste and keep down my Social Security-induced budget.
I recently got a bargain on pork tenderloin in bulk. I broke up the package of eight fairly hefty chunks of good meat and froze most of it. And I used one of the chunks to make two servings (hearty servings at that) of stuffed tenderloin.
Stuffing is easy. I make bread, so I saved some of it and crumbled it up, dried it at 150F in the oven, and added it to a cup of chopped onion, a cup of chopped celery and two cups of mushrooms, two tablespoons of butter (yes, butter is fine as long as you don't have too much at one time.), water to cover, and some herbs. I used rosemary and basil, rough-crushed black pepper and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and stir.
I then cut the tenderloin pork in half horizontally, put the cooked stuffing into a 9x9-inch glass baking pan sprayed with olive oil, topped with the sliced pork, covered with aluminum foil and baked it at 350F (160C) for 40 minutes. I took off the foil and cooked another 20 minutes to brown the stuffing. This makes two hearty servings, one of which can be put in a container and stored in the freezer for at least a couple of weeks, so there is opportunity to make a lot of other recipes for the days in between.
I enjoyed one of the servings with a salad of fresh spinach and a whole tomato, hollowed out and stuffed with cottage cheese, and a side of mixed veggies -- green beans, peppers and onions.
The dessert is a raspberry turnover with vanilla ice cream. Is that bad?