Oh, this man.
David is in Australia again and I am my usual basket case. If you've been reading for a few months, you already know what happened the last time David went to Australia without us.
Well, he's gone again for the week and I'm back to checking the rooms to make sure the ironing board in the closet that looks like it could be a serial killer is actually an ironing board. (This kind of thoroughness takes time and energy) I also have to check the door to make sure it's locked 30 times before I go to bed (kid you not) and I'm pretty busy fantasizing that every little noise in the night is actually a ghost, and that any minute the bed will shoot straight up to the ceiling and whirl around and around, and the cupboard doors will start opening and shutting by themselves.
I've also been watching the cats a lot lately because I hear that if they act squirrely it's because there is something poltergeisty in the house. They are my barometer. If they look calm, I'm calm. If they chase a piece of fuzz across the floor, I'm calling 911.
So, this post will be short because all this looking out for things that could hurt us is exhausting. I am much too busy worrying that the airline mechanics haven't had a proper nights sleep and they will screw up the mechanical inspection of my husband's plane. I check CNN on my phone all day to make sure there haven't been any plane crashes. Even as I write this I feel that even joking about it could send a negative vibe into the air and change the course of the future, so let's stop talking about plane crashes now, okay?...The plane will be fine.
Good plane. High flying plane. Plane of sturdy, well-maintained parts and excellent staying-in-the-air power. Breathe, Kim. Breathe
But there's more...Once this trip, I even had this elaborate fantasy trying to imagine how the girls and I would ever be able to live without David should he survive a plane crash, but come out of it with amnesia and not recognize us and by the end of the fantasy, after we had worked through our deep sadness, I had figured out like 20 different ways I would work selflessly, toiling like Mother Theresa to help him remember our faces and reclaim his life. Seriously, this all played out in my head.
See? Busy, busy.
So, I'm going to leave you the meal David requested for his last meal before he left for Australia. And even now, I hate calling it the "last meal" because well, bad vibes and all (and that made me remember that I haven't even had time to write you my theories about terrorist attacks and what could definitely happen with that), so I'm calling it, "The Get-Your-Butt-Home-in-One-Piece Thai Pork Lettuce Cups". That covers it all, doesn't it?
Now, these are from the most recent issue of "Cook's Illustrated" and I love them and so, I'm giving you their complete recipe here because they, too, are obsessive compulsive and since I did not try this recipe with 24 different cuts of pork, who am I to challenge Christopher Kimball on his own brand of crazy? Although his sounds ways more fun than mine.
I will concede that I made a few changes only because I made this on the fly and we live in Harlem and finding a head of bibb lettuce in Harlem is impossible. I used a beautiful leafy red lettuce and did the best I could. It all went down the same.
Leftovers & Next Day Lunch
Also, I suggest grinding up extra pork loin and keeping it uncooked for the next day and making extra rice. That way you can make pork fried rice for lunch. Splash a little fish sauce on the pork and mix a little shredded ginger in there with your hands. Throw some chopped onions and garlic in the wok when the oil is glistening hot. Add the pork breaking it into little pieces as you go. Get it nearly cooked through and add leftover cooked rice. Mix it all in together and scramble an egg scrambled in there. Salt, pepper, a handful of cilantro. Awesome Chinese lunch.
Another thing, about Cook's Illustrated - I suggest not buying the magazine and buying the online subscription. It is hard to remember which magazine in your den has the perfect pot roast recipe and holding onto old magazines is a space-swallower. But their website is great. It's $30-ish a year but you can search for recipes, product reviews and cooking methods as you need them. It's really a terrific site.
Here's the recipe. David loved these so much, he took what was left with him on the plane. Enjoy!
Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps (Or "The Get-Your-Butt-Home-in-One-Piece Thai Pork Lettuce Cups"
Serve 6 as an appetizer or 4 as a main course. Published September 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
From Cook's Illustrated: We prefer natural pork in this recipe. If using enhanced pork, skip the marinating in step 2 and reduce the amount of fish sauce to 2 tablespoons, adding it all in step 5. Don’t skip the toasted rice; it’s integral to the texture and flavor of the dish. Any style of white rice can be used. Toasted rice powder (kao kua) can also be found in many Asian markets. This dish can be served with sticky rice and steamed vegetables as an entrée. To save time, prepare the other ingredients while the pork is in the freezer.
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound), trimmed of silver skin and fat, cut into 1-inch chunks (see note)
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon white rice (see note)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 medium shallots , peeled and sliced into thin rings (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons juice from 2 limes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 head Bibb lettuce , washed and dried, leaves separated and left whole
1. Place pork chunks on large plate in single layer. Freeze meat until firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Place half of meat in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, 5 to six 1-second pulses. Transfer ground meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining chunks. Stir 1 tablespoon fish sauce into ground meat and marinate, refrigerated, 15 minutes.
3. Heat rice in small skillet over medium-high heat; cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
4. Bring broth to simmer in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until about half of pork is no longer pink, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon rice powder over pork; continue to cook, stirring constantly, until remaining pork is no longer pink, 1 to 1½ minutes longer. Transfer pork to large bowl; let cool 10 minutes.
5. Add remaining 1½ tablespoons fish sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons rice powder, shallots, lime juice, sugar, red pepper flakes, mint, and cilantro to pork; toss to combine. Serve with lettuce leaves.
(Photo: I didn't take this picture and have no idea who did, otherwise I would've credited it. My wraps were horsed down before I could snap a picture. Sorry, total slacker this week.)