About Chatty Kathy

Living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in BC, we have an abundance of fresh food to cook with, and believe me, I do! We have 5 daughters, 3 grand daughters, and lots of honorary daughters ...I love cooking for family and friends and they all keep me busy in the kitchen. Here is hoping that this blog will allow my entire family to access those recipes they ask for, and maybe even enjoy a few travel photos!

Perfect Pulled Pork

During the winter months we just can’t use our smoker ….. too cold, it’s buried under snow and nobody wants to be out there checking the temperature.  I have a perfectly acceptable and delicious slow cooker recipe for pulled pork, but I’ve been looking for one that roasts low and slow in the oven for those crispy bits around the outside.  I found this one on a website:  www.kevinandamanda.com

Pulled pork rice bowl

I know, I know …. pulled pork sammies are the way to go, but we have not been eating a lot of wheat products, so for the second night we had “pulled pork bowls” and you know what???  I liked it even better!

It’s rare that I don’t make any changes, but this was phenomenal just the way it was written, and we all devoured it.

1 4-5 pound pork shoulder (butt) roast

Dry Rub

1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar

Brine Solution

1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 cups cold water
3 tbsp dry rub mix
2 bay leaves

Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar and dry rub and stir well to combine.

Rinse the pork shoulder in cold water and place in a 2 gallon ziploc bag (or a container big enough so the shoulder is completely covered in brine solution). You can add more water if necessary to completely cover the pork.

And add two dried bay leaves.

And refrigerate for at least 12 hours. 24-36 hours is best. I usually do it about 24 hours. Make sure that however you keep it, either bag or container – that it is completely submerged.

At least 12 hours later…

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. (Yes, 225 degrees, that is not a typo :)) Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution and place in the roasting pan

Pat the skin dry with paper towels so you’ll get a nice, crisp crust.

Generously, generously, cover the WHOLE thing in your dry rub mix.And massage it into that skin real good. Be sure and get it up under any flaps you may come across.  Make sure the fat layer is on TOP.

Place uncovered in a 225 degree F oven on the middle rack.  This is totally adjustable.  The original recipe had the roast cooking for 13 hours, but I just didn’t have that much time.  I adjusted the temp to 250 for a 4 1/2 pound roast, and it took about 6 hours.

When shoulder has reached 200 degrees, turn off the oven and let the roast rest for about 2 hours before removing from the oven.  Keep the thermometer in the meat, so you can monitor the temperature. If the bottom of the pan is dry (or crusted with dried spices) cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the resting period. Mine still had a lot of moisture in the bottom, so I didn’t cover mine.

Pulled Pork 1

After a couple hours, when the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove the shoulder from the oven.

Remove the large sheet of crusted fat on the top. Using two large forks, begin pulling the meat apart. It will fall apart *very* easily and it should not take you long at all to pull apart this whole roast.  If you can stop yourself nibbling while you do this, it will feed quite a crowd!

Pulled Pork

Serve on buns with creamy cole slaw and prepare to be licking your fingers. My recipe for:

Jean’s creamy cole slaw 

2/3  cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tsp celery seed

1 tsp sugar

juice of 1/2 lemon

salt & pepper to taste

 

Blend well, and keep tasting – should have a nice balance of sweet and tangy.

 

Moist & Delicious Banana Bread

Everybody family has a favourite banana bread, but you may want to give this one a try!  So moist and delicious, and to seal the deal, it is super easy and quick.  If you are in a hurry, just make the recipe into muffins and they will be ready in 20 minutes.

 

  1. 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup white sugar
  3. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  4. 2 eggs,  lightly beaten
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 3 bananas, mashed (4 if they are small)
  7. 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  8. 1 tsp baking soda  
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 tsp cinnamon

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Add eggs, vanilla and crushed bananas.
  4. Combine well.
  5. Sift together flour, cinnamon, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture.
  6. Mix just until combined. Do not overmix.
  7. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan.
  8. Sprinkle raw sugar mixed with cinnamon over top.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Variations:  (add at the end)

chopped walnuts, or chocolate chips, or (even better) a few chocolate chips and a few Skor bits

Fresh Cranberry Lemon Drop Cookies

These buttery little morsels are a great combination of shortbread richness with the tart hint of cranberry and lemon.  When I had the first one I thought …. Hmmmm, okay, they are good but maybe not my favourite cookie  –  however, next thing I knew I was reaching for a second cookie and now I just can’t stop.

Cranberry Lemon cookies 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, diced finely

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1/3 cup powdered icing sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

In a medium size bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In a large bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar until moist and fragrant.  Add the butter to the lemon sugar and beat until light and fluffy, go for at least 3-5 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla, mixing until smooth and creamy.

Add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in the cranberries by hand.

Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Gently form the dough into small balls and bake for 13-15 minutes on parchment lined cookie sheets.  They spread out a little but not too much so you can put quite a few on each cookie sheet.

Cranberry Lemon 2

Diced fresh cranberries give these little lemon balls a pretty pop of colour.

Let cookies cool slightly before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix the powdered sugar and lemon juice together and drizzle over completely cooled cookies.  I used a pastry brush for this step to allow the whole top to get a shiny finish.  Watch your glaze mixture carefully, you just want it loose enough to brush or drizzle with either clumping or just running off the cookie.

Pretzel Bark

 

You might want to call this pretzel crack, because it is totally addictive!!  We make it for a Christmas treat to share with family and friends, but I’d advise you to make enough to keep for yourself too …

Pretzel bark

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 8 ounces (half of a 1-pound bag) mini pretzels, broken into smaller pieces, more or less to cover the pan
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (one 12-ounce bag) semisweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 11X17-inch rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Cover the bottom of the pan in a layer of broken mini pretzels. Set aside.
  2. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and brown sugar. When the mixture starts to gently simmer and bubble, let it cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Immediately pour the hot caramel mixture over the pretzels in a back and forth motion to cover most of the pretzels (a few empty/dry spots are ok as the caramel will fuse together during baking).
  3. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the pan on a cooling rack. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top of the hot caramel and pretzels. Let the chocolate chips sit for 2-3 minutes until they melt. Use an offset spatula or rubber spatula to gently spread the melted chocolate over the toffee. Lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Let the toffee cool completely at room temperature then refrigerate if needed to help the chocolate set up. Break the toffee into pieces and try not to eat the whole batch.

(I found this recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

Orange Gingerbread Cookies

The first time I tasted these orange ginger cookies, I knew we needed the recipe!  Thanks Courtney for supplying that courtesy of Nana Patti Collins ….. just wait until you try these.

Orange Ginger 1

Preheat oven to 365 F.

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tsp orange peel
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cloves

Cream butter & sugar until light and fluffy, add egg, orange peel & corn syrup.

Sift dry ingredients together and add gradually to creamed mixture.

Orange Ginger 2

Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Orange Ginger 3

Roll between sheets of parchment paper (to 1/4″ thickness”) and cut.  (or form into a log and chill to slice and bake) These cookies do spread out quite a bit so leave lots of room between each one.

Bake at 365 for 9 minutes.

Beer Batter Fish & Chips

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It took me long enough to perfect my batter recipe.   Finally discovered the secret (well, for me anyway) and it was to add some rice flour to the batter.  This created a lighter batter that was bursting with flavour, and had a very satisfying crunch when you bite into it.  This may be a treat that we only indulge in once in a long while, but when we do we want it to be totally satisfying.

Another hint …… make sure you fry your potatoes twice to get a nice crunch on them.  Once you have slivered them, fry initially at 325 degrees, just until soft – barely cooked through.  Remove from the fry oil and allow to cool, on a drain rack.

Fries

Something so satisfying about home fries, fresh out of the deep fry and crispy.  Make sure to season with salt & pepper as soon as they are tumbled onto the draining paper.

My trick is to do the first fry, and while the fish is frying they cool down – then the oil will already be at your higher temperature and they can pop into the fryer for the final few minutes, which makes them golden brown and crunchy.  Keep your fish warm in a 225 F oven while the second fry takes place.

 

BEER BATTER

INGREDIENTS

Serves 4

Beer battered cod fillets:

  • 4  thick cod fillets
  • 1 cup all purpose white flour
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup soda water
  • 3/4 cup lager (or your favourite beer)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. In a large bowl, mix both flours, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Add soda water & beer. (if not a fan of beer (?) just use all soda water)
  3. Mix together only until the batter binds together and is smooth. Be careful not to over-mix. (you may need to add a bit more liquid)
  4. Cover your fish with salt & pepper, as well as a dusting of plain flour, then drop into the batter and coat completely.
  5. Pre-heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 F.
  6. Once fish is coated with batter, gently place into the deep fryer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and crispy.
  7. Remove from fat and drain.

Tart and Tangy Thai Pork Noodles

This makes for a quick and easy dinner, using one skillet (or wok), and just involves a bit of chopping.  As always, please please, taste your marinade before adding cornstarch.  If you don’t smack your lips and say yum yum, try adjusting.  Maybe you like it spicier?  – add chile flakes.  Maybe you like it more tart?  – add lime.  Any dish that has Thai in the title should be well balanced, with salty, sweet, spicy & sour in perfect harmony. Once you get that perfect balance add the corn starch.

Pork noodles

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb boneless pork loin,  cut into strips
  • tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • tablespoons soya sauce (reduced sodium)
  •  4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
  •  broccoli florets
  • carrot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • bamboo shoots (optional)
  • water chestnuts (optional)

Realistically – – – all the vegetables are optional, use whatever you like, just make sure you have a good assortment of color and crunch.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, cornstarch, sesame oil and red pepper flakes.  Remove enough just to cover pork and place in bowl.
  2. Add pork, marinate while preparing pasta and vegetables or up to overnight.
  3. Cook (or soak) rice noodles according to package directions, drain.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute garlic & ginger for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add vegetables and saute until crisp-tender (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.
  7. Add remaining oil and pork mixture to skillet. Cook until pork is nicely browned.
  8. Remove pork, keep warm and stir in remaining marinade to skillet.  Cook until bubbly so the cornstarch is cooked through and thickens.
  9. Return pork & vegetables to skillet, add rice noodles, heat through and serve.

Garnishes:  sliced green onions, toasted and chopped peanuts and roughly chopped cilantro.

This dish works equally well if you want to make it a vegetarian dish, or decide to change up the protein, try:

  • sliced chicken thighs
  • prawns
  • seafood

We like rice noodles, but you could easily use any type of pasta you have on hand like chinese egg noodles or spaghetti noodles.