The population of the RV park drops from over 900 snowbirds during the winter to around 50 for the summer. During April is when they start heading north.
Because of the lower guest count, the weekly lunch and breakfast is stopped. They have previously held a Wednesday evening pot-luck wherein the park would provide grilled hamburgers for the summer residents, of which about 20-25 would show up. The manager asked me to stay for the summer (more on that in a future post) but, since there is no cooking to be done, she asked that I help out on park maintenance (Mon-Fri, 4 hours a day). I countered with an offer to cook on Wednesdays, instead of having the pot-luck and then help on maintenance four days a week. She and the activity director thought that was a good idea.
For the first summer dinner, I made stuffed pork loin, mashed sweet potatoes and kale. It was quite a hit as 72 people came. The park charges $5.00 per meal, but that includes salad, main, dessert and a glass of wine or can of beer. It’s also supposed to include the place settings because they use styro plates and plastic cutlery (but surprisingly not sporks!). And, get this- the styro plates are those three compartment jobs. I tried to show them that some cheap plates would save money in the long run, not to say lending less of a high-school cafeteria feel to the meals, but no-go. Anyway, my food cost actually came in under that amount, so they made a small profit.
It’s nice to cook at least once a week, anyway. They have told me I can ‘experiment’ on the menus but I don’t think their idea of experimenting and mine are quite the same. I’m having to battle to do Frogmore Stew one week, and that’s not exactly and ‘out there’ menu item. I guess anything that doesn’t include a slab of meat, a potato and a veg is outside the box.
Stuffed Pork Loin:
Dice some apples and onions. Into the pan they go on medium heat with some olive oil, raisins, dried apples, garlic, and s&p.
Cook until softened. Add some cider and let it simmer until the cider is absorbed.
Cut open the loin and stuff with this mixture, but not so much that is squirts out the ends. Tie with kitchen strings.
Toss in the oven until done.
While the meat is resting, add some cider to the pan droppings and let it reduce until the right viscosity. That’s your sauce.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
Really? You need a recipe for this? OK- peel and chop some potatoes into large cubes (I use 1 potato for 2 guests). Boil until soft. Use a ricer or food mill to mash. Add enough cream (or milk) and butter to cause health concerns. Some salt and some white pepper. Maybe a little fresh grated nutmeg. Try not to eat it before the guests arrive.
Cook some bacon. Chop and reserve.
Use some the the bacon fat to soften up some diced apples and onions. Garlic wouldn’t hurt. Reserve.
Strip any larger stems from the kale and the tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Cook them with the rest of the bacon fat. (You see where this is going, right? Straight to the hospital, baby!) When they are softened, add the other stuff. Throw in a splash of apple cider vinegar. Done when it’s to the softness you prefer (I hate soft veg.).
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