Cheapskate cuisine

I’m a skinflint at heart: a cheeseparer (in every sense!), a cheapskate, a tightwad. I like coming in under budget – in everything. It’s one reason I like places like Trader Joe’s where you can get relatively high quality, high-end foodstuffs for relatively low prices. It’s why I also like ramen noodles (but I throw away the flavor packet – it’s all salt, yeast and MSG anyway) and vegetables and making my own bread and my own beer.

It’s now fashionable, too, with the trendy jump-on-the-bandwagon adoration of Fergus Henderson and his most likely very wonderful restaurant St. John’s in London. One day maybe I’ll get to go there… I like his book that’s just been reissued, ‘The Whole Beast.’ Anyway, I have been getting into this even a little more than before since I was laid off and I came up with a truly delicious and low cost meal the other day.

The menu

Slow roasted pork rubbed with rosemary and sage served with an apricot and mustard sauce

Blue Lake beans fried with chopped almonds

Fried rice with red onions, peas and sweetcorn

Here’s a picture of the whole meal.

Photo of Slow roasted pork with apricot sauce, green beans and rice copyright 2004 Owen Linderholm

Slow roasted pork with apricot-mustard sauce

I bought a pork roast, pre-marinated from Trader Joe’s ($2.79 per pound) and carefully washed the marinade off and dried the meat and then rubbed in a mixture of a teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of ground black pepper, a teaspoon of dried rosemary crushed into small pieces, a teaspoon of dried sage, half a teaspoon of ground fennel seeds. Then I put the oven on at 300 degrees and sprinkled a little olive oil and lemon juice on the rubbed meat and put it in the oven in a roasting pan. I left it to cook for three hours and that turned out to be about perfect.

Near the end I halved and pitted eight apricots and put them to stew gently on a low to medium heat in a saucepan on the stove. When they were soft, runny and falling apart I added a heaped tablespoon of dijon mustard and about half that of honey and stirred them both into the hot apricots, mushing the apricots up a little as I stirred. I then set the sauce aside to cool.

I took out about five cups of old basmati rice from the previous day and got out a large red onion and about a cup and a half of frozen peas and a cup and a half of frozen sweet corn. I chopped the onion up coarsely into pieces about a quarter inch on a side and set it to saute in a large skillet with a mixture of two tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Once the onions were soft and translucent I added the peas and corn, stirring constantly and waited until they were hot. Then I added the rice and a teaspoon of salt and stirred continuously until all the rice was hot, too.

Finally I broke the ends off about a pound of blue lake beans and chopped very coarsely (into about thirds) a cup of almonds. I heated a tablespoon of olive oil to very hot in a skillet and added the almonds. When they started to brown I added the beans and cooked until they were hot and dark green but still had some snap to them. I serve as shown in the picture. It was really very, very good.

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