COOKING ADVENTURE #84: Honey Mango Citrus Smoothie and Crockpot Balsamic Pork Roast
This week, I decided to kick it up a notch. I made a batch of cookies last week. I figured I could step it up and do not just one but TWO cooking adventures this week! Albeit one was more of a “cooking frolic” than the other (and NO, it’s not the one you think!) Never the less, I’ve discovered two incredible recipes that I intend to remember for the future. Plus, there was enough of each that I could eat/drink them for multiple meals. Score! Although, I will point out that this wonderful food (or any food for that matter) isn’t quite as enjoyable when you have a giant, stinging canker sore on the inside of your bottom lip…which I’m pretty sure was caused by the smoothie. Ulcers abound in my life, I swear…
My first recipe to tackle this week was the smoothie. I found myself sitting on the couch on one of my days off, working on book things and desperately needing some kind of sweet but fruity concoction. Being winter here in Maine, most have a tendency to ignore fruits and vegetables in favor of comfort food, a.k.a chocolate, endless mugs of tea and coffee, lasagnas, casseroles…etc. I’m not the kind of person that remembers to include the fruits and veggies as much in my diet at this time of the year. So, when browsing my Pinterest, I came across this amazing recipe for a Honey Mango Citrus Smoothie, I was ecstatic. That was, however, until I looked at the specifics of the ingredients list.
Any person would immediately assume that the “citrus” part of the list would be something that most everyone could find in a grocery store. Orange, lemon, grapefruit (I literally almost typed “pamplemousse.” A much more fun way to say it if you ask me), or tangerine. Any of these would make sense. But no. There among the other obvious ingredients is listed “1 large whole kumquat.”
If that’s not enough, it adds in parenthesis “or two small ones”. Let me reiterate: I live in Maine. MAINE. And as far as I’m aware, trying to find a kumquat in this state is just about as hard as it is to find a kumquat in a haystack (just as hard as finding a needle. Some say even harder.) Therefore, I decided that I would have to go with something a little more easy to locate. I happened to have a whole box of clementines already in my fridge and figured those wouldn’t be to different to use instead.
I pulled out my magic bullet food processor/amazing blender from the cupboard and hooked it up on the counter. Then, I started in on the fruit slicing. Not as easy as it might seem, especially when one of those items is a mango. Mango is not one of my favorite fruits to deal with. The last one I had to cut up was for a crab cake Cooking Adventure that I did back in 2012 in which a book told me to cut mango “fingers and cheeks”. Don’t ask. It doesn’t make any more sense to me now than it did then. Forgetting about my fruit autopsy lessons, I decided that I would just attack the mango with a peeler and then cut the pit out of the middle with the aid of a very sharp small knife.
First thing I learned: mango doesn’t peel easily. In fact, there were a number of times that the thing shot out of my grip like it was gliding on ice. I ended up giving up on peeling and going directly to cutting, a feat that was even more complicated than the peeling. This is because the mango pit is a huge oblong turd-esque thing that cannot be removed from said mango with any ease at all. I ended up basically hacking that mango to bits with my small VERY sharp knife and…you guessed it, nearly hacked myself several times in the process. Once the mango was finally taught a lesson, I put all of the cubed pieces into the Magic Bullet container and continued to the banana. Much easier to cut. Painfully easy. It made me wonder why the mango evolved into such a state of obnoxious pre-eating preparation. Adding the banana, I moved onto the clementines, peeled two, and added each little slice to the container.
Now, there was a problem. The container was completely full and I wasn’t done adding ingredients. I realized I’d have to blend up the fruit and then add the rest of the ingredients after. I did this, but discovered that it didn’t give me anymore volume in the container. I emptied half of it into another jar and then moved onto the remainder of the directions. 1/4 cup vanilla yogurt, 1/2 tsp vanilla (I added more by accident–it tasted great though!), 2 tbsp honey, 3/4 cup of milk. Then, I let everything blend away beneath the high-pitched whirring of the machine until I was rewarded with a frothy honey colored concoction that simply tasted divine… So divine in fact that days later, a large painful canker sore emerged on my inner gum and has been torturing me ever since. (I’m not saying the smoothie will give you a canker sore; I just happen to have rotten luck.)
Next up: a balsamic pot roast. Honestly, this one was much easier to deal with than the smoothie. I pulled the crockpot from my cabinet and set it up on the counter. I grabbed the packaged pork roast from the fridge and went to open it with a knife. I poked a hole in it at the time I realized all I needed to do was pull back a corner for “easy” entry. I pulled back the corner and the small triangular piece of plastic there tore off, leaving me with no way to get into the pork roast. I went back to the knife and finished ripping the package open. I placed the pork roast in the crockpot and moved onto the next part: seasoning it. I have little to no experience seasoning anything. This means that I basically just dumped and sprinkled salt, garlic powder, and red pepper all over it. But not a ton. I’ve used too many spices on certain things before and have always been regretful.
I moved onto the liquid ingredients: chicken stock and water. Yeah. My “chicken stock” is a little Tupperware container of yellow powder that has recrystallized into a solid mass. I basically broke it into little boulders (just like my brown sugar from last week’s adventure) and dropped them into the crockpot. Then, I added 1/3 cup of water. This small amount immediately worried me and so I added more water, not fully trusting the recipe’s instructions. The last time I failed to put enough water in a crockpot, my dinner burned to the bottom of the container. Not again. Little did I realize that I’d forgotten to take into account the rest of the ingredients going in…which included 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. Worcestershire (I cannot say this word!), and 1 tbsp. honey. Instead of buying balsamic vinegar, I’d bought balsamic vinaigrette. Oh well, same difference.
Once everything was together in the pot, I put the lid on and turned it on for four hours…because that’s what the directions say to do. Turns out that it really only needs three hours of cooking. I’m glad I checked because of my growling stomach, otherwise, I may have ended up with a tough, dry, nearly black roast. I made up some sour cream mashed potatoes as a side and paired them with my pot roast. Absolutely delicious…although very salty. I’m not sure I’d have added any at all, what with the chicken stock and the balsamic vinaigrette both having it. Next time, I’ll skimp on it.
Next week on Cooking Adventures, we’re celebrating the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour which my day job helps to organize every year here in Mid-coast Maine. My plan is to do something adventurous for a cake. Kayaking is my first thought… A kayak cake? Might be beyond my abilities. But if it is, it’ll be one hell of an adventure!