spring break and a recipe: slow-cooker sweet-and-sour pork

I wondered whether I would be able to withstand almost five days without checking my email, without sending and receiving texts, without Twitter. I had a bit of anxiety about missing out on things happening with my patients at work, not being available by phone if necessary. I worried that something would happen to my brother or my father and my mom wouldn’t be able to reach me.

Those were irrational thoughts, of course, and I knew that. But it took some convincing.

Even though I couldn’t be reached by email or cell, the world outside continued on without a hitch. Everyone fared well while we were gone; there were no emergency room visits or catastrophes, medical or otherwise. The house and our two cats were pampered by our friend, Deanna.

And the days of technological silence were bliss.

As it turned out, I needed the break. I needed this:

And this:

And I really needed this:

We disembarked in Port Canaveral early in the morning on Thursday. After one last breakfast on the ship, we were shuffled through Customs and finally in the car, headed home. I turned on my iPhone to find over 300 emails waiting for me. Strangely enough, I didn’t mind.

We’re settling into our end-of-spring-break routine. The kids are reminiscing about the cruise, wondering where the ship is now, at this exact moment – “Is it in the Bahamas now? Are they eating dinner or lunch?” The swimsuits have all been washed and put away, and the half-empty bottles of sunscreen have been put back in the bathroom cabinet.

And sadly, we’re having to convince our stomachs that no, we really don’t need an ice cream cone at 10am or a basket of french fries at 2pm simply because they’re free and available. Or that frosty glass of piña colada, just because the pool boy has been kind enough to bring a tray around to my lounge chair.

This was one of our first home-cooked dinners after the gluttony of dining on the Disney Dream. I wanted something relatively light, a dish that went easy on the butter and fat. I also wanted my slow cooker to do most of the work for me. Slow-cooked sweet and sour pork, served with jasmine rice and steamed broccoli, fit the bill.

And I’m already thinking of my next technology-silent vacation…

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours (low setting) or 4 hours (high)

Slow Cooker Sweet-and-Sour Pork

Most of the prep work for this dish can be done the night before, making this easy to assemble before you leave for work in the morning. Serve the sweet and sour pork over jasmine rice and with some steamed broccoli for a complete meal.


1 can (20-ounce) pineapple chunks, packed in juice
2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 large onion, sliced into thin wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca, crushed
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Drain pineapple chunks and reserve juice. Refrigerate pineapple chunks until ready to use.

In a slow cooker (at least 4 quart), combine carrot, onion, red bell pepper, and pork. In a medium bowl, stir together the reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, rice vinegar, tomato paste, tapioca, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, salt, and sesame oil. Pour over the vegetables and pork.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Stir in reserved pineapple chunks. Taste for seasoning, adding additional salt as needed.


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11 Responses to “spring break and a recipe: slow-cooker sweet-and-sour pork”

  1. 1
    Macaroni Mama — April 7, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

    I love your photos in this blog, plus a perfect meal.

  2. 2
    Paula — April 8, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    It’s funny isn’t it, how when we are in our own environment we actually think that we have some kind of control over what will occur and when we are away from it we have those irrational fears about *what if this or that happens* while we’re gone. I’m glad that you enjoyed your cruise and that all went well (both at home and away). The photographs are great and the kids certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves.
    Best wishes for a wonderful Easter for you and your family. The slow cooker pork looks great.

  3. 3
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — April 8, 2012 @ 9:54 am

    What a fabulous spring break you had! And this sweet and sour pork looks to-die-for! Yum!

  4. 4
    Noble Pig - Cathy — April 11, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    What a wonderful trip…we are headed to the keys in a few weeks and I can not wait!

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  8. 5
    Aristophanes — July 31, 2013 @ 12:00 pm

    I just got back from San Diego, so I know what you mean about needing a break. My whole problem was I did NOT want to come back – and I live in Florida! This sweet and sour pork looks and sounds yummy. Will be trying it soon.

  9. 6
    JudyD — July 1, 2014 @ 8:36 pm

    Just made for supper and it was delicious!! Will definitely save this recipe and make again.. It was the perfect blend of sweet and sour. I didn’t have low sodium soy sauce, so only used 1/2 tsp salt and it was perfect. Thank you for the recipe!

    • 6.1
      Merry-Jennifer — July 2, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

      I’m so glad you liked it! And thank you so much for sharing your modifications. I’m certain that will help someone else who’s in the same position.

  10. 7
    MoKyFellow — October 3, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    Merry-Jennifer, is it a requirement tha I take a Disney Cruise before I am allowed to try this yummy sounding dish? LOL

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