Slow Cooked Asian Pulled Pork

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Pulled pork is one of my favourite American discoveries! But we haven’t ever made it at home before, so I did some searching and found a great looking recipe from the lads at SortedFood.  I tweaked it a little, to change some ingredients I wasn’t so keen on, and hubby and I tried making it this weekend. It was super easy and really tasty!

Ingredients:
3.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder (fat still on, for crackling)
225 ml apple juice
200 ml water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger (peeled, thinly sliced)
90 ml soy sauce
1.5 tbsp Chinese five spice
(original recipe added 2 birds eye chillies, we left them out but you could add them if you wanted to)
3 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Optional:
Bread rolls
Coleslaw

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1. Add the apple juice, water, soy sauce and Chinese five spice to your Crock Pot and mix well. Then add the minced garlic, and sliced fresh ginger and stir.

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2. Score the fat on the pork shoulder in a criss-cross pattern, then place the pork shoulder in the Crock Pot and mix it around (turning it over once or twice) to coat it in the sauce.

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3. Put the lid on and cook on HIGH for about 4 hours. Ours took 4 hours, a larger pork shoulder may take longer.  If you want to slow cook it in the oven, mix all the sauce ingredients and pork in an oven safe pot (with a lid) and cook for 4 hours at 160°C (325°F).

4. When it’s cooked, remove the pork from the Crock Pot and place on a tray (for shredding), carefully remove the scored fat and lie on a baking tray. Rub the fat with a bit of salt then cook in the oven at 200°C (400°F) until crispy.  I screwed up the crackling and it burnt…then I dropped it on the floor lol! So hopefully your crackling will be better than mine!

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5. Pour the sauce/juices through a sieve into a saucepan (discard the bits) and add the sugar and vinegar. Reduce on the stove until it is more sauce-like. This is the most time consuming part of the whole recipe. I also skimmed off some of the fat from the top of the sauce as it reduced.

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6. Shred the pork using two forks, or whatever method you prefer, then stir in the reduced sauce.

7. Serve on buns (with coleslaw), or however you like to eat pulled pork, and enjoy! This recipe had enough pork for at least 8 large rolls/sandwiches (and some left over).

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This was so delicious and really easy to cook that we’ll definitely be doing it again! Only next time I’ll try not to screw up the crackling hehe.

I’ll be sharing this post on the Hearth & Soul Hop, be sure to check out other posts for more recipes to feed your soul 🙂

Soup Season: Pumpkin and Carrot Soup

We are now definitely into “soup season” where everyone loves comfort, warm fires and hearty food. Soups are so easy to make and you really don’t need a recipe to follow – just throw a bunch of vegetables into a pot with some stock, cook, blend, et voila! Soup 🙂

But there are a lot of lovely soup recipes around and I love trying them out! My Mom is the homemade soup master..well, mistress, so today we made one together from a new cookery book that was a surprise find!

The book is called Comfort Cooking: Recipes To Warm Your Heart by Bay Books. It’s packed full of recipes I know I’ll love to cook just as much as I want to eat them – when I first found the book and flicked through I was ravenous by the end! I’ve searched online and not managed to find anywhere that sells it, I got my copy from a book man at work so it may be that they’re out of print. I’ll do a review of the book itself in a different blog post another time and try to find more details to help source it.

So yes, it is that time of year where a nice bowlful of warm soup is a real comfort 🙂 so I have decided to do a series of posts throughout the next couple of months called Soup Season! Today’s recipe is Pumpkin and Carrot Soup.

We changed a couple of things in the recipe, so I’ll indicate in the ingredients list which things we altered or removed.

Serves 4-6
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients:
40 g (1.5 oz) butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) carrots, sliced
125 ml (4 fl oz / 0.5 cup) orange juice
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) butternut pumpkin (squash), peeled and roughly chopped. <—[we used actual fresh pumpkin, like you carve at Halloween, about 2 lbs]
1.5 litres (52 fl oz / 6 cups) chicken stock. <—[we used vegetable stock as Mom is vegetarian]
1 tbsp snipped chives. <—[we didn’t have any chives so we left this out]
herb scones or herb bread to serve. <—[we used seeded bread as we have that in the house]

1) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Pour in the orange juice and bring to the boil over high heat. Add the pumpkin, stock and return to the boil (the original recipe also asks for an additional 500 ml, which is 2 cups, of water to be added but we thought that would make it too watery so we left the extra water out completely…and are glad that we did!). Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the carrot and pumpkin are soft.

2) Blend the soup in batches in a blender (or with a hand held blender if you have one), until smooth – the recipe says to add a little more stock if you prefer the soup to be thinner, but we didn’t do this, it was just the right consistency in our opinion 🙂

3) Return to the cleaned pan and reheat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Divide the soup among the serving bowls and garnish with the chives (or without chives, as we did). Serve with herb scones or bread – we used Warburton’s Seeded Batch instead, because it’s the bread we have daily and love it!

This was a great recipe and so tasty. We’ll definitely be doing it again.

We only used 2 bowlfuls of soup today so the rest will be going into Pour And Store bags, when it’s cooled down, and stored in the freezer for a later date 🙂 These bags are great for freezing soups, sauces, marinades, etc and they stand open on their own making it easy to put the soup in them. I’m all for ease when it comes to cooking!

Dinner And A Movie

My husband and I have had a lot of long-distance parts to our relationship. With him being in the USAF he’s been stationed in countries I’m not in and sometimes in countries I can’t go to (his deployment for example). Right now he’s back in America but I’m still in England while we wait for the marriage notification and visa processing to be completed so I can move too. I won’t lie, the waiting is horrible because I miss him so much 🙁

One thing we started early on in our relationship was movie nights – just because we couldn’t be in the same country when he was deployed, etc didn’t mean that we couldn’t still watch a movie together! So we would plan ahead which movie we were both going to rent and then watch it at the same time while talking on voice chat online 🙂 It’s as close to actually going out (or staying in) as a couple that we could get for certain times in our relationship and it was nice to share that time together 🙂

Then, about a year ago, we decided to make it dinner and a movie night where we would not only synchronise the movie we watched but also the food we ate. So we’d pick out a recipe earlier in the week, then cook it at the same time (we synchronised that via voice chat online) then eat our meal for 2 while watching the same movie and chatting some more on voice chat 🙂

Last Saturday was our most recent of these dinner and movie nights and we decided to cook some comfort food that we’d never tried to make at home before: macaroni cheese!

I found a recipe on my favourite recipe site, All Recipes and it turned out really well!

The recipe we used was Four Cheese Macaroni and we both had to substitute one of the cheeses (muenster) for something else (we chose a medium cheddar) because it wasn’t something we could find. We also used mild cheddar cubed instead of “processed cheese food” because that sounds the most unappetising thing I had ever heard of! lol!

Sorry about the pictures being a bit dark – a couple of light bulbs have died in my kitchen!

I went back to basics with this recipe because the battery in my scales had died but luckily I have a pair of old fashioned scales and weights, which came in handy 🙂 The recipe calls for grated and cubed cheese.

After melting all the cheese with the macaroni it gets transferred to a dish and put into the oven…

…and comes out nicely browned with buttery-cheesy-goodness!

It’s something we’ll definitely cook again because it was so easy and really tasty!

The movie we watched was Iron Man 🙂

I’m going to use this as my first time taking part in the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop which happens every Tuesday!

Welcome To The World Of Tomorrow!


Or at least the House Of The Future.

I went to Grand Designs Live yesterday at the NEC. One of the things I was excited about was the House Of The Future “stage” area they had, showing inventions and innovations that are either available now or will be available for homes within the next 5-10 years.

I actually saw the demonstration twice because there were a few..technical difficulties the first time round! The guy came on stage and started talking about what we can expect from a house in the future and started walking towards the touch-less wardrobes, which basically open when you get to them so you don’t need to touch them at all. …Except they didn’t open. So he took a step back and they started to open, so he walked forward again and they snapped shut lol! It was like a comedy version of a futuristic home! This happened a few times and in the end he opened it with his hand, but still the wardrobe wanted to be closed and kept trying to shut on him while he was holding it open. So eventually he opened one of the draws inside the wardrobe and used it to prop open the door…which was still intent on closing and either trapping him in/out or chopping him in half. Then there was a power-cut lol!

So at this point, home of the future was not really much better than home of today!

I went back later, after the power to the stage had been turned back on again and was pretty impressed by most of the things on there. Some weren’t really very innovative, some were very interesting but not things that I’d want to use myself, but there were a few I’d like to have in my home at some point in the future.

The touch-less wardrobes looked a lot of fun (when they didn’t have a mind of their own lol!) but I think the novelty would wear off, and I’m not sure I’d like the doors opening every time I went near them. Inside the wardrobe were fingerprint scan draws. Basically this means that only you can open your draws by having your finger scanned each time you want access. Unless you have super secret pajamas that noone else is allowed to see, I didn’t really grasp the need for this – especially as you’ll have someone in the home doing the laundry so then how will they get the clothes back into the draws? Do they have access to all draws in the house then…kind of defeats the point of it.

Fingerprint scanning for office draws I could understand. But for your socks? Really?

Next He talked about an oven that has a built in chef and engineer. These are available now (although not cheap, I’m guessing) and what it means is the oven will learn how long you put your potatoes in/how crispy you like them, if you want your beef undercooked or overcooked, etc and if it has a fault the internal engineer will log what has broken and tell the real life engineer which parts to bring. It’s good for saving time as far as the engineering diagnostic goes, but what happens if the internal engineer is the part that breaks? He didn’t cover that in the talk. It’s an interesting idea though and one that I’m sure will be improved over the next 5-10 years.

Also in the kitchen was an induction hob. Now this is something that did impress me and I’ve already told my husband that I want to have one when we buy a house (we rent right now)! The hob never gets hot. How does that work? You need to have special induction cookware to use on it but basically there is an electrical reaction between the hob and the base of the pan, so the pan will heat up (because the base of the pan produces the heat electrically) but the hob itself stays perfectly cold. Why is this so good? It means the surface won’t be something to worry about kids putting their hands on and burning them (or even big kids doing the same because I know I’ve done that once before!), if something spills out of the pan, or boils over, there’s no hassle cleaning the hob because it’s cold and will just wipe off no problem. There aren’t any raised dials, everything is touch pad, so again that’s ease of cleaning. Obviously if you’re cooking something on there for a long time then the area of hob under the pan will start to get warm due to basic heat dispersion.

On the same principal, induction, they talked about wipower – wireless power. This would mean no more cables for laptops, you would be completely wireless and able to have a charge in your battery wherever you wanted to be in the house. No more cables to TVs – have it freestanding in the middle of a room if you wanted. Vacuum the whole house without needing to move the plug, and mow the front and back garden without any power cables at all. This impressed me a lot. It’s not at the mowing the lawn stage yet, but is available in the form of wipower pads/areas where you can just place things ontop (mobile phone placed down on your desk, etc) and they will essentially be “plugged in”, only without any wires.

Next was a waterless, soapless dishwasher. This was impressive but I wouldn’t want one personally. It cleans the dishes/plates/etc through sonic waves and all the dirt and grime from them can then be used on a compost heap. There was also talk of a clothes “freshner” product along the same lines – if you’ve worn something for a day, it’s not dirty but you don’t think it’s clean enough to wear again, pass it through the freshner and sonic waves will “blast” it clean/fresh so you can wear it for another day without needing to wash it.

Something that I liked a lot, but had seen on TV shows before, was privacy glass. It’s basically glass that you can “turn off”; it will become opaque when you click a button. This impressed me and again is something I’ve told my husband we should get when we have our own house. The benefits are quite numerous and include not only things like privacy and not needing curtains, but also shading and heating benefits, UV filtering and versatility. I’m not sure if curtains will actually go out of fashion – there’s something luxurious about them, especially in winter, that makes you feel quite snug. But I think being able to turn glass off, especially in the summer and in hotter climates, would be a great addition to a house.

There were a few things revolving around the bathroom that didn’t really impress me at all, so I won’t mention those here, and a light for the bedroom to help you sleep that was equally unimpressive.

3D TV was the final item on the stage. Sky 3D launched earlier this month so they talked about all that was involved with that. I hadn’t had a look at a 3D TV before so I gave it a go while I was there. The idea is impressive but I have to say I haven’t been impressed with 3D in general lately. To me, 3D means watching something and having things pop out of the screen at you, but the past several years 3D has turned into having thing projected back from the screen instead. Which just doesn’t seem worth it. The Sky logo comes out of the screen at you in the 3D demo and that was great, with the water droplets floating around right in front of your face! But then the rest of the demonstration it was from shows and movies and they all do the pushing-things-backwards tactic, which doesn’t impress me at all. So I’m going to skip 3D TVs and stick with our HD TV until hologram TV comes out, which is sure to be the next TV step!