By Cristen Clark, Food & Swine
Thinking of all of the things you should be doing + just trying to enjoy life = anxiety and stress.
The fall season is the busiest for me as a mom and a farmer, too. Kids are back to school for a week or two, then we head to the fields to harvest corn and soybeans. There are long days in the tractor, days that machinery breaks down, and days someone has a total meltdown because there’s a Snickers candy bar in their sack lunch rather than a Kit Kat, but I’m not naming names. (See picture… and yes, he desperately needed that nap.)
Once harvest is over, I always feel the pressure of all of my loose ends building up. When we are in the field, I don’t have a ton of time to devote to my job as a blogger; that’s just the way it is. With whatever time I have left at the end of the day, I try to focus on my children. Even if I don’t exactly remember if they took a bath yesterday, or even what day it is, I still try. I have recipes to develop, presentations to create, field trips to attend, laundry that would rival a family of 12, dishes, dishes, and more dishes. Plus, I have the pressure of not wanting to miss one single moment. I guess that’s just what moms do.
We’ve tried to fit in many fun experiences since harvest came to a close. I want my kids to have the opportunities that their friends do, so we recently went to an apple orchard nearby to get the full-frontal-fall-experience. My kids picked apples, accidentally ate a worm (that was inside the apple, but my son still has no idea) and approached the corn pile like they’d never seen corn before in their entire life.
Despite our efforts to create memories through fun outings or activities, many memories I have tucked away safely from my youth are when we are gathered around the table, eating as a family. This classic take on stir fry is one of my favorite recipes I’ve adapted from my mom’s cookbook. I can still remember this dish, simmering away in her electric skillet. I always tried to steal my sister’s water chestnuts, because I loved their undeniable crunch.
As a busy mom, I like recipes that come together quickly. Sometimes in the morning, when the hustle is on, ie: “where’s your backpack?”or “brush your teeth!” etc., I don’t have the time nor the forethought to load my slow cooker. That’s where one skillet recipes come in handy. I also love recipes with tons of veggies because it gives me a chance to clear out my refrigerator so nothing goes to waste. This recipe is so versatile you can really put any veggies with it. Just make sure you have around 8-10 cups of pre-cooked veggies in the stir fry for best results. Don’t have broccoli? Add green beans. Don’t have bell pepper? Add sliced onion.
Pork loin is a lean, affordable cut of meat. When cooked correctly, it is tasty and versatile. I like to cook the vegetables first in this recipe, then the meat and sauce and then combining the two for only a final minute of cooking. The whole dish cooks in 12 minutes or less. If you have your meat and veggie prep out of the way, you’ll be eating my favorite family meal of all time, in no time at all. Most pork loin roasts that are sold in grocery stores are typically in the 2-2 ½ pound range, so I slice the remaining loin into ½ inch slices and make “Pork Breakfast Stacks,” quick cooking thin pork loin chops topped with an over easy egg and sautéed bell pepper strips. Any attempt to save precious time and create two meals from one is a win in our household.
Classic Pork Loin Stir Fry
By: Cristen Clark, foodandswine.com
For the pork:
1 ½ lbs. boneless pork loin, sliced then cut into thin strips
For the marinade/sauce:
5 TBSP brown sugar
5 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP rice wine vinegar, or regular vinegar
1 TBSP sesame oil
2 tsp freshly grated ginger, or ½ tsp ground ginger
1 bunch green onion, chopped, white parts only (reserve green ends for garnish)
1 large pinch red pepper flakes
1 ½ TBSP cornstarch
1 ½ TBSP water
For the vegetables:
1 TBSP vegetable oil
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into large coins
3 stalks celery, chopped into 1” pieces
½ cup water or chicken stock
2 bell peppers, assorted colors, cut into ½ inch strips
2 cups broccoli florets
1 – 8 oz container fresh white button mushrooms, sliced to ½ inch thickness
1 – 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained well and sliced
½ of an 8 oz can bamboo shoots, drained well
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
For the garnish and serving:
reserved chopped green onion tops
cooked rice (jasmine rice is our favorite)
1. Place strips of pork loin into a zip top bag.
2. To make marinade, in a small bowl combine brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, chopped onion and red pepper flakes. Whisk well to combine. In a separate small bowl or cup, combine water and cornstarch and stir until dissolved.
3. Add all marinade ingredients and whisk until combined. Pour 1/4 cup of marinade mixture in zip top bag with sliced pork. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Set aside remaining marinade.
4. In an extra large skillet over medium high to high heat, add carrots, celery and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots along with salt and pepper. Cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Sometimes I cover the vegetables briefly with a pot lid so the broccoli steams a bit.) Remove vegetables and place them into a mixing bowl, set aside.
5. Remove meat from marinade, place into skillet over medium high heat. Discard used marinade. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved marinade. Cook for 1 minute until sauce simmers and thickens a bit. Cook loin roast until pork is cooked through or lightly browned. (Find more information about pork cooking here.)
6. Add vegetables back to large skillet. Stir well.
7. Add reserved green onion tops, and sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish.
8. Serve over white rice. Makes 6-8 servings.
Cristen Clark is an Iowa farmer, wife and mother of two. She started the blog Food & Swine to share contest-winning recipes, stories of her growing family, and snapshots of daily life on an Iowa farm. She enjoys grain harvest, coaching softball, caring for newborn baby piglets, and baking pies. She prefers two eggs over-hard and two strips of bacon for breakfast every morning with her husband Mike and children Halle and Barrett.