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Enjoying Hibernation with Tasty Leftovers (with Mexican Pork Salad Recipe)

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As much as I love to thrive right along with my plants while working long days outdoors during the growing season, I also thoroughly enjoy cozying inside in a human sort of hibernation during the cold of winter. Subzero windchill temperatures outside might very well find me pouring over seed catalogues and revising the plans for my garden beds for the umpteenth time. Occasionally I glance up to catch sight of one of our cardinals grabbing a snack from the milkweed. I could also be arting away, making MOOD (Manifesting Our Own Destiny) bowls or creating new dolls inspired by a fun cruise of the internet or hours lost in Pinterest.

Regardless of my activities, there is still a need to nourish our tummies after feeding my soul. I find that as much as I love cooking and creating in the kitchen, often I need to be able to work something up quickly since time has evaporated into thin air as I worked away at other things. Whether it’s the earnest hours upon hours in the garden or the time warp of arting, it seems that I turn around twice and it’s time for dinner.

My go-to habit is to treat leftovers as a primary food group. I cook for leftovers, on purpose. I actually practice this year ‘round. I’ll cook with a mind toward what might come from the leftovers. Often they will morph into a completely different meal with no obvious similarity to the original. Sometimes they become a small taste of what came before on the same plate with other orphaned leftovers creating a sort of trip around the world at our house.

Slow Cooker Pork Roast and Leftover Ideas

One of my favorite things to make is a pork roast in the slow cooker. I buy the two-foot-long version of pork loin at Costco and cut it into 3 pieces when I get home. I normally use one piece during the week of purchase and freeze the other two for later use. Early in the day of original cooking, I sear the meat then put it in the slow cooker fat side up and slather it with chopped garlic. Turn it on low and let the pot do its work. During winter, I get the added benefit of smelling that garlic simmer all day long — yum!

I could easily throw some kraut and sliced apples into the crockpot for a delicious warming-to-the-bone meal ready to eat out of the pot at day’s end, but I prefer to go with the simple pork roast because then I have at least two more night’s meals that can vary to Mexican, German, or Indian. It takes little extra time to dress them up with such ethnic diversity.

Want a German-leaning flavor? Reheat the pork, panfry some potatoes, dish up some homemade kraut, add a bowl of applesauce and you’re good to go. Prefer an Indian-like meal? Reheat the pork, add curry, turmeric, coconut milk, some sautéed onions and peppers, and pour over a bed of rice. Add a sprinkle of raisins and coconut on top and enjoy. Feel like a taco salad? Here’s my recipe.

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Mexican-Style Pork Salad

(recipe given for 2 adults)

Ingredients:

• organic salad greens
• leftover pork, shredded (not too finely)
• salsa (both for garnish and for moistening the pork while reheating)
• 1 15-oz can of organic kidney or black beans, drained of all liquid
• 1 Tbsp (or more) frozen cilantro (Fresh works too, but this was written in winter and I used my own stores from the garden.)
• 1 Tbsp (or more) frozen chopped, roasted red peppers (As above with the cilantro, these were from my own stores.)
• 1 Tbsp (or more) chopped garlic
• 1 Tsp granulated onion (Onions don’t like me, so I have to go this route. If I were more normal, I’d use green onions here and mix in the chopped white parts with the pork, the green with the salad greens.)
• 1/8 cup (or more, to taste) lime juice

Optional garnishes: sliced avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese (I don’t do dairy so it’s easy for me to leave that off — if family members vary in their likes this is also a variable meal that you can alter to please each person).

Directions:

1. Shred pork from leftover roast.

2. Warm in frying pan, coated lightly with olive oil.

3. Add garlic and onion.

4. After a minute or two, add cilantro, red pepper, lime juice, beans, and about 1/4 cup of salsa. Continue cooking until meat is heated through and condiments are warmed.

5. Line your plates with the salad greens. I didn’t put an amount in the ingredients above since each of us has different preferences here. I love my leafy greens but my husband prefers half the amount that I enjoy.

6. Place the meat mixture in the center and top with your preferred toppings.

You can serve as is, with tortilla chips as accent, or with tortillas if some like their meal fajita-style. If preferring the latter route, use less greens and have them in a separate pile. You can also incorporate leftover rice and heat up some refried beans to round out this meal.

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Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


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