Dinner Tonight

Since you all seem to be interested in what the crazy cat lady is cooking these days, here was tonight’s meal.

Made the usual garden salad that we are now addicted to and pretty much have every night just changing the dressing around, but usually just olive and vinegar with some seasonings (thanks for all the vinagrettes!), but half fresh spinach, half romaine, kalamata olives, a bit of diced red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, and some artichokes. The ingredients are all there and no need to explain, but one thing you really have got to do is drain the artichokes because brined artichokes are just laden with sodium, so I always soak them to get some of that out.

For dinner, the 1980’s were calling, and I made a pork roulade. Had a pork loin in the freezer that I found on sale a couple months ago, so I thawed it out and then butterflied it. The stuffing consisted of:

1 flash frozen bag of spinach (thaw it and mince it)
2 artichoke hearts (also minced, and remember to drain all the damned salt)
a couple ounces of feta cheese
1/2 minced vidalia
chiffonade some basil
a touch of salt and pepper

Mix that all together, then spread it evenly across the the butterflied loin, roll it up, and tie it with butcher’s string. I then used my dutch oven on the stove top, put a touch of olive oil in it, and got a good sear on all sides, and then cooked them for an hour at 350. I use my little Breville convection oven for everything, so I just lined the rack with aluminum foil, and then every fifteen minutes I was able to go in and use a spoon to ladle the juices over the top to keep it moist all the way around.

When it is done, take it out and let it sit for a few, then with your carving knife, and slice it into portions.

I couldn’t figure out what else to make, so we just had a little cottage cheese and pineapple as a side, which we eat a great deal, too. Good stuff.

Oh. Here is how to dice a red pepper. That isn’t exactly how I do it, because his way requires five knife strokes (cut off the top, cut off the bottom, slice down the middle, and then two carving motions). I just stand them upright on the cutting board ad make four downward slices and basically create a box around the innards. Same amount of waste, one less motion, both of which are important when you spent times doing hours of prep work.

Here is how to mince.

Here is how to chiffonade basil.

Here is how to butterfly and use the butcher’s strings on a pork loin.

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41 replies
  1. 1
    Shana says:

    Sounds yummy, as usual. Now that we’re kosher I don’t make pork loin, but every once in a while, like just now reading your post, I really miss it. I assume the levels were good too. How’s Steve?

  2. 2
    raven says:

    Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip – Heart Attack Scene

    “That’s what you get for eating all that pork”!

  3. 3
    John Cole says:

    @Shana: He’s perfect. Really.

    Although we have been easing him slowly into a diet so RonnieRoo does not come up here and kick my ass, and he has been bitching for food, so Shawn and I have instituted a regimen of corporal cuddling.

    We’ve also started feeding him when he is not paying attention, so that his bitching for food is never rewarded.

  4. 4
    raven says:

    @John Cole: Good deal, he’ll adjust.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John Cole:

    If you haven’t already, switch Steve to a grain-free food (we use Blue Buffalo Wilderness, but Wellness and Lotus are other good brands). It seems more expensive at first, but he’ll eat less of it.

    Charlotte bitches for cat treats, so I make her work for them with one of these so at least she gets a little exercise. Though Lily and Rosie will probably figure out pretty quickly that THERE’S FOOD IN THAT THING!

  6. 6
    Roxy says:

    My favorite dressing is one tablespoon balsamic vinegar and one tablespoon lemon or lime olive oil. Mix thoroughly, pour over your salad and then toss. Yummy.

  7. 7
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: A Kong for cats!

  8. 8
    RSR says:

    >>kalamata olives

    Yes, plz. Eff those black olives from a can.

    Also, I’ve found artichoke hearts in water, or frozen artichoke hearts (in nothing, really) are good for salads and dips.

  9. 9
    Mnemosyne says:


    They have ’em. But, again, I’m assuming Rosie would rip it to shreds almost instantly.

  10. 10
    raven says:

    @RSR: I’ve found cooking my own artichokes in my pressure cooker is da bomb.

  11. 11
    NotMax says:

    Kalamata olives are high in salt, so use of one or two as a garnish rather than many as an ingredient gently suggested.

    Dijon mustard as an emulsifier works gangbusters for oil-vinegar dressings (or egg yolk, but that’s no longer PC).

  12. 12
    raven says:

    @Mnemosyne: Cool, I didn’t realize he still had dogs.

  13. 13
    Shana says:

    @John Cole: Brilliant. I loved that.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:


    ‘Pressure cooker’ and ‘bomb’ in the same sentence.

    Mucho gutsy.


  15. 15
    raven says:

    @NotMax: Ooo, that is not good.

  16. 16
    Gex says:

    Love love love these posts, John.

  17. 17
    AliceBlue says:

    You’re in a good place John and I’m glad to hear it.

    How is Shawn’s job search coming along?

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @John Cole: My latest rescue, Mr. Finch loved that video and that’s was the first time he showed awareness of the computer screen. Even though he’s a dog, he has cat like behavior, i.e sleeping on the top cushion of the sofa or in my closet. He also climbs on the kitchen tables.

  19. 19
    muricafukyea says:

    So when are your hero’s Griftwald/Snowden going to denounce Putin’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty cat lady Cole?

  20. 20
    John Cole says:

    @NotMax: I get the ones out of a big bin from the local produce place, with the bits in, because I think the pitted ones taste like utter shit and pitting a 3-4 olives and cutting them up takes all of 3 seconds. But I use them sparingly, not only because of the sodium issue, but because they can really overwhelm things if you overdo it. Celery salt is the worst in that way. I wince every time I see it in a recipe because I know how just a little bit of celery salt can totally fucking nuke a meal from orbit.

  21. 21
    Comrade Mary says:

    My pepper slicing method is in between your two methods.

    1) Slide off top close enough to stem that it falls out on its own.

    2) Slice off the bottom as a thin slice so it will stand straight on the board.

    3) Slice down right next to one of the now-exposed, bitter white ribs to open the pepper.

    4) Rotate the pepper to slice down just BEFORE the next rib.

    5) Cut as needed for the rest of the pepper, avoiding or slicing off the rib as needed. Toss the now-exposed core.

    6) Dice skin side down.

    It’s not as fast as your method, but not as fiddly as his, plus it gets rid of all the ribs and maximizes all the edible pepper.

  22. 22
    Betsy says:

    Hey big guy, are you eating pastured meats? Because it would fit really well with your emphasis on health and nutrition. It’s a happy win-win-win-win solution: Better for you, better for the farmer, better for the land and environment, better for the animals.

    Yeah I’m preaching.

  23. 23
    JPL says:

    All of this slicing and dicing that’s going on and still no stories about blood and stitches. I’m impressed.

  24. 24
    Lyrebird says:

    @Comrade Mary: Hi, if you’re reading, would you post the link to the amazing remix w/the fun CGI video again? (of a David Bowie song)

    Another awesome Canadian I know needs to be exposed to it.

  25. 25
    jl says:

    I had no idea there was a 1980s type food, so I looked it up. The Cole version sounds better. No hamburger or tuna helper involved! Sounds like retro food fad win win to me.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:

    @Comrade Mary

    A trick which have found handy when dealing with peppers:

    Stand the pepper upright.

    Run knife in a circle around the stem, close to the outside edge of the pepper.

    Grab hold of the stem and push down to free the circle from the rest of the pepper, then pull up to remove the pith and most of the ribs and seeds. Rinse the inside to get any stray seeds.

    For green peppers, instead of tossing it, the pith (part hanging down the inside from the stem) can be sliced into rounds. Frying those and serving with scrambled eggs tastes kind’a, sort’a like bacon and eggs.

    @John Cole

    A little celery salt goes a lo-o-o-ong way.

    Others may disagree, but potato salad without the merest soupçon of celery salt incorporated into it tastes like potato-flavored library paste.

    Pretty much the only other items I drag out the celery salt for are when making certain soups or when preparing pickled red cabbage.

    Something else (also salty, but not anywhere near as much as one might think) which works well in salad dressings is a dollop of anchovy paste. (It comes in tubes, like toothpaste, and lasts in the fridge freakin’ forever.)

    Aside: These particular anchovy-stuffed olives are squarely in the “bet you can’t eat just one” arena, and something I treat myself to maybe thrice a year. I snap up several cans when see that brand on the shelves, hide them in the back of the pantry, and tote one as an offering to bring-your-own-snackage gatherings, too. :)

  27. 27
    Constance says:

    Your pork loin sounds great. Truly boring and bland pork loin has been my specialty for a couple of years. Your recipe could turn me into a potluck star.

  28. 28
    StringOnAStick says:

    I have to second the Blue Buffalo rec. Our very-similar-to-Steve kitty was getting too fluffy and having trouble jumping up to her usual places. Since we’d switched to grain-free/paleo a year earlier it finally got through my thick head that it would be a super good option for obligate carnivores like cats. Standard cat food is chock full of grains, and cats are somewhat prone to diabetes. She eats less of it because she is satisfied sooner, and she immediately went down to a good weight for a 12 year old cat.

    Grain-free is the only way to go for kitties, especially ones who are creeping up in the tubby department. She begs/whines less now too, I think because she has less hunger and greater food satisfaction. It costs a bit more, but as was noted by another commenter, they eat less of it. She’s much more active too, it was like she dropped 3 years and insists on at least one good stringonastick session a day.

  29. 29
    StringOnAStick says:

    Also, if you are using artichoke hearts canned in oil, wash that crap off under hot water since it is usually canola oil. Canola oil is evil, period; screw what looks like a good omega 3 to 6 profile, just take a look at how it is processed for human consumption. Why willingly eat anything that has to be processed with petroleum products (hexane in this case)?

  30. 30
    Mike in NC says:

    We had lunch at a Polish restaurant today where they had pickle soup and stuffed cabbage rolls. They were a lot better than I expected, especially the soup (with carrots, cabbage, and potatoes included).

  31. 31
  32. 32
    p.a. says:

    Try sherry vinegar if you see it. A local bargain store has fig vinegar that I stock up on; it is great as a base for raspberry vinaigrette. Would fruit vinaigrettes affect blood sugars much? To save $$$ use frozen raspberries not fresh. And add blueberries and blackberries too.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:

    Sumthin’ I make when company’s comin’ –

    Roast Pork with Prune Stuffing

    9 lb. pork shoulder (weight with bone in)
    1 lb. raw prunes, soaked in hot (not boiling) water
    2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
    1 tsp. ground ginger
    1/4 c, chopped parsley

    Remove bone and most of the fat from pork shoulder. Butterfly the pork shoulder. (Butcher can do all this for you)

    Spread out the butterflied meat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Stuffing: Drain the prunes well and chop them fine. Add garlic, rosemary, ginger, parsley and work that mix into a paste.

    Spread that paste over the inside of the shoulder, then roll it into a long roll and tie in several places with butcher’s string.

    Place on rack in roasting pan. Cook at 350 degrees for 2½ hours, basting occasionally. Tent loosely with foil if top is browning too quickly, and remove the tent for last 10-15 minutes.

  34. 34
    Lizzy L says:

    John, I have a question about your Breville oven. I’m thinking about buying one of the Breville Smart Ovens. It seems from Amazon that only the large one, the BOV800XL is a convection oven. Is the BOV800XL the one you have? It sounds like a great little machine — does it have any downsides that you want to mention?

  35. 35
    Lyrebird says:

    @Comrade Mary: Thank you thank you! It was the Murphy one that you’d posted earlier (last month).

    Maybe the graphics would strike some as overly clever. I think they end up fitting the remix so well that it just works. Thank you again!

  36. 36
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Lyrebird: Yay! I love James Murphy so much. It’s not just his classic work, but the fact that he is now channeling Eno as an Ewok.

  37. 37
    Suzanne says:

    Costco has a grain-free kibble line for both dogs and cats. They have three versions for dogs (beef, turkey, and salmon) and one for cats (tuna, I think). Affordable and my animals love it. Just FYI for all y’all who both love your animals and want to support a good company.

  38. 38
    joel hanes says:


    boring and bland pork loin

    Mix a good hot/sweet mango chutney into a pineapple/sesame teriyaki sauce. Initially roast the salted/ peppered or dry-rubbed loin very very hot to almost char the outside; then paint very liberally with the sauce, and complete roasting low and slow. Dump more chutney over the hot meat while it rests after cooking. Drizzle lightly with pan drippings after slicing.

  39. 39
    John Cole says:

    @Lizzy L: I sent you a long email.

  40. 40
    Original Lee says:

    Yay! The missing element for BJ dominance: Cooking show! John, you are awesome.

  41. 41

    I,also,would appreciate info about the breville ovens. Thanks.

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