Sweet-and-Sour Pork

Sweet-and-Sour Pork

A Recipe from Southern Living 1981 Annual Recipes (1981)

About the Recipe

I love Chinese food. My husband also loves Chinese food. Over the years we’ve both made our own copycat recipes for various things – stir fry, fried rice, egg drop soup. Absolutely nothing that we tried before tasted like it does fresh out of the cardboard box. Until now.

I’ll admit from the get-go that this is a little bit more tricky than the usual recipes that I highlight, but it’s well worth the effort. It tastes just like fresh from the hole-in-the-wall sweet and sour pork. Yum!

This is definitely a recipe that you can play with a little bit. I used red and yellow peppers, because that’s what I had in the house. I also added some mushrooms and onions to give us a little bit more from a nutrients perspective. Other great veggie additions would include snow peas, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, carrots, the list goes on! I plan on trying it again cutting down the sugar and using pineapple and pineapple juice. We even discussed using some mango when it comes in season again.

About the Book

Usually I put the breaks on when I see a book from the 1980’s. The ’80’s were a strange time in culinary history – lots of low-sugar / low-fat / low-taste things going on. But this one looked interesting, and it came from my cousin so I thought I’d give it at least one try.

The book is divided into months with appropriate recipes in each month. Obviously I decided to do one of the February recipes, and I have to say that it tasted even better as the Nor’easter whipped snow around our house. We also get some Mardi Gras / New Orleans inspired dishes (okra and “French Quarter” green beans), though I’m positive that my NOLA friends would giggle at the ingredients. And of course, plenty of chocolate desserts for Valentine’s Day.

I think I’ll pull this out again come March…

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

2 T peanut oil
1 1/4 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 t garlic salt
1/8 t pepper
1 3/4 cups water
2 medium-size green peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:

Pour oil around top of preheated wok, coating sides; allow to heat at medium high for 2 minutes. Add pork, and stir-fry about 5-6 minutes. Add garlic salt, pepper, and water. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer about 25 minutes or until pork is very tender.

Add green pepper; cook, uncovered about 4 minutes. Stir in raisins, sugar, and vinegar. Dissolve cornstarch in soy sauce, and add to pork mixture. Cook stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Note: I used yellow and red peppers, and added onions and mushrooms. There’s plenty of sauce, so feel free to load this up with veggies!

Pork Chop and Potato Hot Pot

Pork Chop and Potato Hot Pot

A Recipe from Elephant Stew (1980)

About the Recipe

Oh my, where to start with this one… Usually when there’s a marked down corner in a cookbook it means one of two things:

  1. I have tried a recipe on this page and it is very good. I need to save this page for later.
  2. I have not tried this recipe yet, but it seems like something I want to make.

I don’t know which one this was, but whew boy! This recipe needs some help. It’s a good method of cooking pork chops, but it’s super super super bland. A few recommended swaps from me:

  • Marinate the pork chops ahead of browning them. Your favorite barbecue sauce would work well, or even just a good pork rub with some olive oil.
  • Season the potatoes and onions. You don’t need much, some salt and pepper will do.
  • Ditch the canned soup for some sliced sharp cheddar cheese. If you’re attached to the creamy, processed feel that the soup brings, go for some American cheese slices or Velveeta.

About the Book

Usually when a recipe is such an uninspired dud as this one is, I ditch the book. It goes on my shelf or I give it to a friend who may get better use. But this book is just too adorable to give up on. My version is published in 1980, but I believe there are other years available. It’s a fundraiser book (which does mean that there are bound to be a few winners in here) for the Association for the Study of Childhood Cancer, and many of the recipes come from the Junior Women’s Club of Virginia.

The book is filled with illustrations from children and cute little tips at the bottom of the recipe pages. Check out the hot dog tip above to get a feel for those little gems. I’ll post some more when I cook out of this again. In the meantime, enjoy a few more pages from this delightful book.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

4 pork chops
1t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 med. onion, sliced
4 med. potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup, undiluted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350*. Trim extra fat from chops. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper and brown well on both sides; drain on paper towels. Place chops in shallow 2-qt. casserole. Arrange onion and potato slices on top. Spoon soup over all. Bake, covered, for 1 hour or until meat and potato are tender. Serves 4.

 

Pork Chops, South Seas

Pork Chops, South Seas

A Recipe from Simple Hawaiian Cookery (1964)

About the Recipe

Pork chops are one of my husband’s favorite things to eat, and in truth this is the first time I’ve ever cooked them. This recipe, with its simple execution and easy to find ingredients felt like a good place to start. And actually – it was!

The slow cooking on the pork chops almost stews them so they come out super juicy. The fruit slow cooks into the chops themselves, bringing out a simple sweetness that’s so complimentary to the pork. Definitely a winner here.

One adjustment from me: I substituted half the water out for juice from the can of pineapples.

To make the gravy (just in case!) add about a teaspoon of flour plus a little more as needed and stir it in to thicken.

About the Book

I saw this book in a store and thought – how freaking cute! It’s part of a large (very large) set of cookbooks put out by publisher Peter Pauper in the ’60s. All of the books are this cute, with great illustrations and even better recipes. If you see a Peter Pauper book, snap it up! It’s a great addition to the shelf.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

4 loin pork chops
salt and pepper
Flour
4 slices canned pineapple
4 pitted prunes
4 carrots
1/3 cup water

Directions:

Wipe chops and season with salt and pepper. Dust with flour, and place in pan. Upon each chop place a ring of pineapple with a pitted prune in the center. Between chops, place whole carrots, and add water.

Cover. Cook slowly for 1 1/2 hours. Remove to hot platter. Make a gravy from mixture in pan. Pour over chops. Garnish with parsley. Serves 4.

 

Cranberry Whirl Ham Dinner

Cranberry Whirl Ham Dinner

A Recipe from Pillsbury’s 7th Grand National Cookbook (1956)

About the Recipe

At first glance, this is a very complicated recipe. But then, if you start getting into the 1950’s of it all, it’s not so bad. And let me tell you, I quarantine cooking / 1950’s post war’d the heck out of this thing! I used canned everything and it was freakin’ delicious. 10/10 will make again.

This recipe is like Christmas dinner in a casserole. To Mrs. Frank J. Neeley of New York, NY – you are a mad casserole genius. The biscuit came out perfectly flaky and tender, and with all of the juices and flavors bubbling up around it as it baked, they absorbed some of that flavor. Sheer perfection.

If you’re looking for a yummy, tender biscuit this might just be the one to try. It’s going in the “experiment with me” bank for sure.

For more recipes in the Pillsbury Challenge, click here!

About the book

This was the other Pillsbury book from the wonderful Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks in the East Village, Manhattan. There’s absolutely nothing that can replace a good, independent book seller and cookbook enthusiast. The more I speak to these fantastic humans, the more my passion for cooking out of the old books grows.

One note of interest on this one – Pillsbury starts going through a bit of an identity crisis with what to call the contest itself. This is the first year that they’ve shortened it to “Grand National.”

About the glassware

This 2.5 quart Pyrex Butterfly Gold casserole dish came to me from a friend as part of a set. The dishes belonged to their grandmother and you can feel all of the love that’s been baked into them over the years.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 No. 2 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks or tidbits
3 c (2 lb.) cubed cooked ham
2 c sliced cooked sweet potato (canned or 4 medium potatoes)
1/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
2 T butter

Cranberry Whirl Biscuits:
3/4 c fresh cranberries, ground or chopped fine
3 T sugar
1 T + 1 1/2 c flour, divided
3 t double-acting baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/3 c Crisco
1 beaten egg
1/3 c milk

Directions:

Drain the pineapple, reserving juice. Measure 1 cup pineapple; add ham. Prepare the sweet potatoes if not canned. Alternate layers of the ham-pineapple mixture and sweet potato in greased 2-quart casserole, starting with the ham mixture.

Combine brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of the reserved pineapple juice and butter. Cook until thick, stirring constantly. Pour over mixture in casserole.

Bake in moderately hot oven (400*F) 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Cranberry Whirl Biscuits.

Cranberry Whirl Biscuits:
Combine cranberries, sugar, and 1 T of the flour. Set aside.

Sift together remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in Crisco thoroughly until particles are fine. Add egg and milk. Stir until dough clings together in a ball. Knead lightly 10 strokes on floured pastry cloth or board.

Roll out to a 12″-square. Spread with the cranberry mixture. Roll as for jelly roll. Cut into 1 1/4″ slices; arrange cut side down on hot mixture in casserole. Bake 25-30 minutes at 400*F until biscuits are golden brown.