Honey Baked Pork

Tonight, I left Kait in charge of picking a recipe which was no mistake. She picked a good, but simple, recipe: Honey Baked Pork. You simply brown the pork chops on the stove top, melt honey and brown sugar in the microwave, and bake for 15 minutes on each side- using half the sauce to cover each side. Kait has also decided to expand the scope of our explorations and explore sides as well, calling our staple of boiled carrots and broccoli “boring”. Her response was to try stuffed mushrooms, but the grocery store didn’t have any plain ones left, just these store-prepared ones. People in the UK apparently don’t like to cook… But we paired this with a little bit of rice as well as a few slices of bread with balsamic and oil.

Honey Baked Pork
16 Jan 2018
Honey Baked Bork
16 Jan 2018

This turned out wonderfully. We were surprised that the sauce stayed thin instead of becoming more of a glaze considering how much sugar was in it. The prepared stuffed mushrooms were very good as well, and I wouldn’t mind them being a main on their own (although I would need a couple of them). They had a cream cheese, garlic, herbs, and bread crumbs as the stuffing, though I would opt for less cream cheese out of principle. Tonight, our carbs were fairly “common” to us. Plain rice and homemade sourdough bread are frequent parts of our weekly menu.

As if I didn’t already agree with Kait, that our sides could use some new variety and creativity, sitting down to this meal emphasized this point. The pork was creative and new, the mushrooms unique, the bread artisan, and the rice… well, bland with room for imaginative improvement.

Running my first scout meeting

Back in October, I joined scouts again to do something that was special and important to me, and not follow anyone else. Due to the age range I wanted to work with, I joined the Newnham 11th/9th Explorer unit. Back in December, I sat with a group of five explorers to plan out this term. Last week, we planned an Ice Skating trip for the last session of the season for the rink. This week, we kicked off our camping theme with nothing other than… Fire.

The objective tonight was a simple one that we did several times at home: build a fire to burn a string that is one meter off the ground.  Only rules are (i) nothing can touch/lean against the string and (ii) your structure must be on fire from the ground up. Simple enough, right? One older explorer was in charge of setting up and giving everyone the green light (and matches) to light their fires.

The night went fairly well, except for the kid who stepped on the nail from wood they broke down and the kid who got a piece of hot plastic on his ear… Who threw plastic into a fire anyway? The three groups fit one of each category that I expected to have…

First, you had the hard-core group, the group that wanted to build their own wooden fire starter and kindling by shaving a piece of wood. Their fire struggled to get started and in the end, I think they stole a burning log from the second group, the resourceful group. The second group quickly looked around, found cardboard and paper to use as kindling. Their fire got started quickly and burned through the strings quite easily. And then there was the third group, the ones who knew the objective was to burn the string and were only going to do just that. First, they tried to bring the fire to the string by building a platform out of pallets; they were stopped. So, they ultimately cut the string (claiming victory in the process), threw it into the pile of wood they had, and proceeded to light that on fire… They were the group who acted like kids.

After burning a sufficient amount of string, they cleaned up, went inside and played a few games before receiving their badges we owed them. I discussed plans for upcoming meetings with those responsible for the next few meetings and everyone was on their way… No one too hurt, no items too broken, and nothing left on fire or smoldering.

Ultimately, it was a good night. They had fun, they worked on something productive, and we dealt with what hiccups did arise (as unfortunate as it was).  Hopefully, if they ever are in a situation where they need to build a fire, they can.

New year, same bread

I saw a lot of good comics about new years, specifically this “new year, new me” comic that I thought was really funny. Anyway, I somehow missed making bread last weekend (I just kinda forgot? not really sure how it happened), so here is my first bread of 2018!

Sourdough bread
14 Jan 2018
Sourdough bread
14 Jan 2018

Boy am I glad to have this stuff back in my life again… I’ve really missed it over the last two weeks… I even had to get a store white bread because Kait wanted it with our stew… (neverrr againn… no more bland bread)

Honey and Garlic Chicken

The next stop along our adventure of food brings us to a honey and garlic chicken, or at least a variant of the recipe. The problem with this meal became the fact that we had an idea of what we wanted, just without any clue of how to go about it: a (different) sticky sauce we could put over corn floured breaded baked chicken, like in the firecracker chicken post.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this, but it was no fault other than my own. I admit to misreading the recipe, and since we wanted to bake the chicken, it just was a poor decision from the beginning. The recipe called for the sauce to be fried in the pan as well, where as we wanted to bake it. 

The chicken was very an edible meal. My mistake was adding too much garlic powder instead of pan searing the garlic with the chicken. Lesson learned. I will retry this recipe when I’m actually willing to sear it all in pans instead of baking it.

My redeeming addition to the meal was a variation of my mother’s asparagus. I added a medallion-ed courgette and a diced onion to the asparagus, lightly coated them in olive oil, and sprinkled with garlic powder and salt. This turned out much better than I anticipated and was my favorite part of the meal.

Honey Garlic Chicken recipe:

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves garlic , crushed
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water (or chicken broth)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

 

Firecracker Chicken

As 2018 rolls in, Kait and I have decided to make more new food. Last year we tried various pies, stews, pulled pork, pizzas, etc. that all went undocumented, un-photographed and forgotten (much like my childhood)… This year we want to try documenting it all!

This recipe was motivated by a sandwich from a chain-cafe here in the UK, a firecracker chicken “toastie” (flatbread sandwich).  The ingredients list wasn’t very helpful as it lists “55% firecracker chicken mix” as the main ingredient. So we’ve looked up a recipe and decided to give it a try.

This turned out really well. The sauce is really thick, due to a cup of sugar that caramelizes in the oven. The corn flowered breading on the chicken fried well, and waiting to let the oil and pan heat up to its full heat really helped the frying process. The extra red pepper flakes give it an extra kick without being overbearing. Next time, we’ll probably use less buffalo sauce and make up the difference with hot sauce.

Recipe, and our augmentations below:

  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon crushed red peppers