A Mexican jumping bean is an occurrence native to Mexico, where it is known as Frijoles saltarines. They are a seed pod through which the larva of a small moth has chewed. The bean "jumps" because when it gets in a hot place the larva snaps its body hoping to roll to a cooler place.
Don't worry, there are no jumping beans in this fajita recipe. Although that could be pretty exciting in a hot pan! However, I discovered while cooking this meal, that I have a lot in common with a jumping bean. I think it has something to do with control. When a jumping bean gets in a hot place, it has to jump and move to a cooler place. It's trying to control its temperature.
Hand me a tennis racket and tennis ball, and I'll run you around the court. I have control over a tennis ball. Hand me a chunk of boneless pork and stick me in a kitchen, and any sort of control I thought I had, goes right out the window. I get very jumpy (hence the bean reference) and tend to flail my arms around in frustration when I think I will ruin a meal. Especially after I spent money on a big chunk of pork. A chunk of pork that I have no idea how to cut or cook. Now, if you read the ingredients in this recipe, you'll see that it calls for some hot sauce, vinegar, 1/8" strips of pork....among other things. I mention these three, because they are the ones that stressed me out the most. Let's replay what happened as I read the instructions....
Add a dash of hot pepper sauce
Shoot! That could mean so many things to so many people. I texted Heather pronto!
Me: "How much is a dash of hot sauce!?"
Heather: "Just sprinkle some in. You can do it!"
After the encouragement, I got over that one hurdle. Now onto the next.
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
I walk to the refrigerator and discover..."Hmm, I only have apple cider vinegar. What the heck is the difference? I'll call Greg."
Ring Ring Ring....
Mandi: "Hi Greg, it's Mandi. I have a random question for you. I'm cooking a new meal and I only have apple cider vinegar and the recipe calls for regular vinegar. Can I use the apple cider vinegar?"
Greg: "Is it for a marinade?"
Me: "Yes, for pork."
Greg: "Yeah, you'll be ok using that."
Phew! Now, onto the meat.
Cut the pork in 1/8" strips across the grain
There sits the pork. There I stand, staring at it. And off my thoughts went...
"Oh great, where's the grain? This knife is awful. It barely cuts the meat! And what should the strips look like anyways? I need visuals. Why didn't this recipe come with pictures? Should it be taking me an hour to cut strips of pork? I need a better knife."
Needless to say, it did take me quite a while to make this meal, and yes, I was a bit flustered and bouncing around like a mexican jumping bean at times, but all for a very tasty end result! My pork strips were a tad on the tough side, but the yummy flavor helped overcome that. Thanks to Greg, the apple cider vinegar did just fine. And, I realized my "dash" of hot sauce could have been more like a dollop. I don't mind a little spice! My dad gave this meal a much higher rating than the pizza muffins a few posts back. He gave it a 4 out of 5, only because the pork was slightly tough. I can definitely fix that for next time!
So, back to my jumping bean analogy. I discovered that if beans are shaken too hard, they will sometimes stop moving for a short amount of time as a defense mechanism. Interesting! Now I realize why I've avoided the kitchen for so long. I've been shaken up by so many kitchen fiascos, that I just gave up. The kitchen has become to me what a hot place is to a jumping bean! Well, not anymore! I'll take on that chunk of pork again. Just let me at it!! Oh, but with a much sharper knife.