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Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
South Shore News

Cooking at home has its definite advantages


Published:   |   Updated: June 12, 2014 at 01:48 PM

As a food columnist, there are three questions I get asked most often.

The first is, “Do you eat out every night?”

To that, I explain, “No, I’m a food writer. I mostly cook at home.”

I do this because I love food, enjoy writing about it and like to share my passion with others. Like most of us, I can’t afford afford to dine out all the time, but that’s not a problem for me. The kitchen is my favorite place in the house.

For the past half-dozen years or so, we’ve scaled way back. We eat out occasionally but have come to appreciate the ritual of eating at home together. And since dinner is the most expensive meal to order at a restaurant, we usually choose to go out for breakfast or lunch.

As is the case with many home cooks, I think knowing what to make is often half the battle.

So I make it a point of keeping ingredients on hand for a few go-to meals for those nights when I don’t feel as motivated to make something special. These include BLTs, pancakes or salad with a protein. I can have these foods on the table in less than 20 minutes, which is a boon for extra-busy nights.

The second thing I’m often asked is, “What’s your favorite restaurant?” That’s understandable, but it’s also basically unanswerable. Because my response depends on whether I’m in the mood for something simple or something sublime, sushi or hamburger, a quick bite or lots of ambience.

In a perfect world, I wish I could be certain that the food I’m about to order is worth the muss and fuss, to say nothing of the expense.

There’s nothing worse than spending your hard-earned cash, only to think, “I could have made that better at home...for a quarter of the cost.”

So except for those rare occasions when I crave a different dining experience, we head to our favorite tried-and-true places. Sound familiar?

The third thing I’m often asked is, “How hard is it to be a food columnist and keep your BMI out of the stratosphere?” (Well, something to that effect...)

It’s hard. Really, really hard.

Here’s a healthy dish that’s quick to make at home in under 30 minutes. It also won’t break your budget.

Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel.

Moo Shoo Pork

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce, plus more for serving

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 3/4-pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into thin strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 ounces portabella mushrooms, sliced

1 14-ounce bag coleslaw mix

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

12 bibb lettuce leaves

Whisk the hoisin sauce, vinegar, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the pork and marinate 10 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Using tongs, remove the pork from the marinade, add it to the skillet and stir-fry until browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water to the skillet, then pour the pan juices over the pork on the plate.

Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. When hot, add the mushrooms and stir-fry until slightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the coleslaw mix and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the pork and half the scallions. Stir-fry 2 more minutes. Season with salt and sprinkle with the remaining scallions. Serve the stir-fry with more hoisin sauce in the lettuce leaves.

Source: Adapted from “Great EASY Meals: 250 Fun & Fast Recipes” by Food Network Magazine.

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