Lamb, Eggplant, and Tomatoes Ras el Hanout

A made up recipe that came out better than I expected.

Another evening, another dinner guest. This time of year, I have to invite people I can send home with zucchini.

Of course, I’m also growing eggplant, which I really like, and have a bunch of that to eat. After browsing Whole30 recipes for eggplant, I decided to try something completely different, something that used up garden vegetables and some of the ground lamb I had in my freezer from the half lamb I bought last year.

I also had a seasoning I’d whipped up for goat (which I also have in my freezer) that I knew would be great with the lamb. Called ras el hanout, I found the recipe on the Amazing Ribs website when I was looking for something interesting to season goat ribs. I made it exactly as written, including the culeb berries, which I tracked down online at Spice Jungle. The result is mind-bogglingly aromatic, reminding me of the middle eastern food I used to eat at my wasband’s Aunt Rose’s house or the Persian Room in Scottsdale.

So I made up this recipe. It’s Whole30 compliant, but what’s more important is that it’s delicious. And that’s what really matters, right?

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium to large eggplants or 4 medium Japanese eggplants.
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound ground lamb or goat. (I used lamb.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout
  • 1 medium onion, chopped.
  • 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Since this recipe is made up, the measurements aren’t precise and don’t need to be. Use more or less of any ingredient to suit your taste. I think it’s the combination of ingredients and

Instructions:

  1. Prep the eggplant:
    • Cut half the eggplants lengthwise and, using a paring knife, carve away about half the flesh, leaving the skin and a layer of flesh. Brush the flesh with olive oil, place on a baking sheet, and bake in a 350°F oven until flesh is cooked. Remove and set aside.
    • For the other half of the eggplants, pare away the skin and chop the flesh, as well as the flesh carved out of the other eggplant, into small pieces.
  2. Cook the lamb (or goat), onions, garlic, and ras el hanout together in a large skillet. You shouldn’t need to add any oil; the meat will be fatty enough. In fact, you can probably drain away some of the fat once the lamb is brown and the onions are just starting to get translucent.
  3. Add the chopped eggplant and tomatoes.
  4. Simmer until the eggplant is cooked.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste.
  6. Simmer another 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.
  7. Spoon the lamb, eggplant, and tomato mixture into the prepared eggplant skins. (You may have some leftover.)
  8. Return the stuffed eggplant skins to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until well heated.
  9. Remove from oven, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

I don’t have a picture. I’ll take one the next time I make this, which actually might be soon. I was thinking of trying it again with goat meat. I sure have enough eggplant and tomatoes in my garden.

You can skip the stuffed eggplant part — in other words, serve the dish on its own, with a salad, or with rice. The other day, I made scrambled eggs and topped them with reheated leftovers. Delicious!

If you make this, please come back and let me know how you liked it.

One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Tequila

An easy recipe with Whole30 in mind.

With the summer dragging on and lots of work to do around my house and property in preparation for my first glamping guests, I’m still making time to entertain, inviting friends up for dinner a few times a week. But rather than chain myself to the kitchen for hours preparing a complex meal, I’m keeping it simple. Yesterday, I looked up one of my favorite recipes, a one-pan dinner combining meat and vegetables that can be prepared and cooked in less than an hour: pork tenderloin with tequila.

Jose CuervoNow I know what you’re saying. Tequila is alcohol and alcohol is verboten in Whole30, which I started last week. And you’re right. But I can make a two-part argument for why I could include it in this recipe:

Still, if you feel strongly that alcohol should not be included in any Whole30 recipe despite these two points, just exclude it when you prepare this. Then let us know how it came out. I bet it’s still good.

Now here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup mustard. If you’re going Whole30 on this, check the label and make sure it doesn’t include sugar. Many do. I recommend Guldens, which does not.
  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin. Don’t get hung up on weight. Just buy a package of pork tenderloin. There are usually two in a pack. Use both of them.
  • 1/4 cup oil. The original recipe called for vegetable oil. I used light olive oil.
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved.

  • 1/4 cup chopped carrot. I’m not big on measuring so I just peeled and cut one carrot. Done.
  • 1/4 cup celery. Read what I said about the carrot above. One stalk.
  • 1/4 cup lime juice. Again, I’m not interested in measuring or putting away half a lime. I used the juice of one lime.
  • 1/4 cup tequila. I used Jose Cuervo. I still have a ton of it from Arizona. (People here don’t drink tequila like they do in Arizona.)
  • 1 tablespoon ground red chiles. I used chile powder and because I don’t like very spicy food, I used less than a full tablespoon.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves.
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves.
  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped. This should equal about four cups. In the past, I’ve made this with canned chopped tomatoes. If you decide to go this route, drain off some of that tomato juice. Otherwise, this will wind up as a soupy (although still tasty) mess.
  • 1 small onion, chopped. I used a medium one. I like onions.
  • 1 bay leaf. I just realized that I forgot this yesterday. Oops.
  • 1/4 cup snipped parsley. I didn’t have any so I didn’t use any.

Yesterday, I also added some chopped up banana peppers from my garden, mostly because I’m trying very hard to use them up. I would have added some chopped zucchini, too, if I’d remembered to.

Instructions:

It can’t get any easier than this:

  1. Spread the mustard over the pork tenderloin.
  2. Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet until hot.
  3. Cook the tenderloin over medium heat in the oil until browned.
  4. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the parsley. (I mixed them all together in a bowl in advance and just poured them in.)
  5. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat to simmer and cover.
  6. Cook until pork is done, about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaf.
  8. Cut meat into 1-inch slices against the grain and arrange with vegetables on a serving plate with a generous lip. (I used a glass pie plate.)
  9. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Tequila Pork
Of course, I forgot to take a photo before dinner yesterday. But don’t the leftovers look pretty good?

I prepared all this right in front of my dinner guest. We’d been working on one of my garage projects and came upstairs when we were done. My stove sits on a kitchen island with food prep counter space, a breakfast bar, and seating. While my guest chatted with me, I cooked. It was all very easy and social. (I should mention that I planned my kitchen with the stove in the island instead of the sink just so I could stay social while preparing food. There’s nothing ruder than turning your back on a guest for extended periods of time.)

The result was delicious.

I had a bunch left over and will likely have it for dinner tonight. But I’m also going to heat up some of those vegetables and enjoy them with my scrambled eggs this morning. Yum.

About Helicopter Fuel Consumption

It’s only part of the cost of operations.

Among the stats recorded for this blog are the search phrases people use to find content here. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found search phrases related to “helicopter mileage” or “helicopter miles per gallon” or “helicopter fuel burn.” It seems that a lot of people are really interested in learning how much fuel a helicopter burns.

It’s not just the blog, either. I get related questions every time I do a rides gig. I’d say that 1 out of every 10 adult passengers wants to know how many miles per gallon my helicopter gets or gallons per hour my helicopter burns.

Of course, a helicopter’s fuel burn varies based on its make and model — just like an SUV will burn more fuel than a compact car. Bigger engines burn more fuel.

Fuel burn also varies based on conditions, again just like a car. If I cruise alone on a cool day near sea level, the helicopter will be operating efficiently with a light weight to carry and burn less fuel than if I operate near maximum gross weight on a hot day. This is similar to a car’s “highway” and “city” MPG ratings.

Ready for my answer to the question?

My helicopter burns roughly 15 to 17 gallons per hour, depending on conditions.

Helicopters generally take one of two different kinds of fuel. Some helicopters with piston engines, including mine, burn AvGas, which is also known as 100LL, a high-octane, leaded fuel similar to what you might put in a car. (I actually “dispose of” spoiled AvGas in my lawnmower and ATV once in a while. My understanding is that the lead will damage a car’s catalytic converter so I’d never put AvGas in my Jeep or Honda.) Other helicopters with turbine engines, like a JetRanger, burn JetA, which is the same stuff they put in jet airplanes. (It’s also remarkably similar to diesel, although I’ve never put JetA in my truck.)

Aviation fuel prices vary the same way auto fuel prices vary. AvGas and JetA seldom cost the same. These days, my local airport sells AvGas for $5.14/gallon and JetA for $4.04/gallon. The least I’ve ever paid for AvGas was $2.43/gallon way back when I first started flying. The most was around $9/gallon when I needed to refuel at an airport with a fancy FBO that normally caters to business jets. Ouch.

R44 Gauges
I have two tanks that supply the engine with fuel from a single feed (so there’s no need to switch tanks in flight) for a total of 46.5 gallons of usable fuel. (The Master switch is on but the engine is not running in this photo.)

My helicopter can hold about 46 gallons of fuel. I can fly for 2-1/2 to 3 hours on that, depending on conditions. If you figure I average about 100 knots when cruising — that’s 115 miles per hour or 185 kilometers per hour — I can cover about 300 miles on a full tank. Of course, that also depends on wind conditions; I’ll fly fewer miles with a headwind than with a tailwind or no wind.

One more thing. The reason most people seem interested in learning about fuel consumption is because they’re trying to figure out what it costs to fly a helicopter. (At rides gigs, they’re usually trying to figure out my profit.) What they fail to understand is that fuel is only a small part of what it costs to fly. I’ve blogged about this extensively here. Fuel currently accounts for less than a third of my operating costs.

So you can imagine how annoyed I get when people offer to just “pay for fuel” if I fly them somewhere. As if I’m interested in picking up two thirds of the cost of giving them a ride and throwing in my time for free, while forgoing any possibility of a “profit” to help cover the cost of operating my business.

(And what about the $14,000 I need to spend later this year to install a radio altimeter that I’ll never need?)

Anyway, I’m hoping that this post comes up in those searches now. It answers the question succinctly in a way that most people can’t fail to understand.