There’s nothing like going away. And little as wonderful as returning home.
If you haven’t made a restaurant reservation yet for Valentine’s Day, you’re probably too late except for the 3:30 or 10:30 pm slots.
What you’re definitely in time for is a trip to the grocery store, a little cooking action, an attractively-set table, and a relaxed dinner with no one asking
My favorite year-round company meals often include a big, thick pork chop. If you’ve eaten at my house, you’ve probably had one. I’m talking 1 1/2 – 2-inches thick, bone-in, please. Cold months I’ll brown them to a crisp, throw them in the oven to finish off slowly with a sprinkle of warming rosemary, and serve them nestled down into a buttery root vegetable mash of some sort with lemony green beans or spicy sautéed spinach and a creamy mushroom sauce. Insert Pinot Noir. Continue reading
On a night when the world reeled from the Paris attacks — and from the unending hate and carnage we seem to constantly face (Do we humans desire to end our world?) — I had planned some sort of a pork chop dinner. That said, you’ll imagine I had a couple of great big, thick babies unthawed (1 1/2 -2-inches thick) and a few vegetables basking on the counter waiting to see what I’d do with them. I kept one eye on the tv and another on the sauté pans. I began without a perfectly clear idea, but it quickly came into focus: tender, rosemary for remembrance-scented pork snuggled up to garlicky spinach and cozy mashed sweet potatoes, to which I added a regular Idaho potato. A lusty French-style white wine-mushroom sauce tied the whole thing together. Why not? Love was the key, the answer here. Wasn’t it?
Quote of the Day: Love
THE LOVE FOR equals is a human thing—of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles.
The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing—the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world.
The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing—to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints.
And then there is the love for the enemy—love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.
-Originally published in The Magnificent Defeat by Frederick Buechner
And I can’t help but think of the hundred of thousands of Syrians already killed in this horrific time. No one has changed their Facebook page to mourn them. Last count was 250,000, I thought–but as I researched it that number might be just a little too high. Here’s what I found.
Our rainy Colorado summer continues. Each day, not all day long, but typically in the afternoon or evening, we’re nearly overwhelmed by lightning storms and great, heavy rains we are unaccustomed to. Most years, a desperately needed now and then drizzle qualifies as a Colorado summer rain. Instead of that sweet pitty-pat every couple of weeks, there are regular and torrential downpours creating gullies and near-ditches where none have gone before. Streets are closed due to flooding; cars are stuck in rising water. Potted plants float and are emptied repeatedly and still rot. My two precious pots of rosemary (brought in over the winter and taken outdoors in the late spring) don’t know how to act; one has nearly expired.
While Rosie, our labradoodle puppy, has no trouble with the rumbling, grumbling, crashing, thunder or the moaning or beating rain, Tucker is a wreck–a new behavior for him. I can barely console him and often find 75 pounds of golden retriever in my lap. I know; he needs a thunder blanket. Sometimes I’ll “kennel” them together. We don’t use a real kennel but have our mudroom baby-gated and that seems to comfort him. Poor puppy.
One of the gorgeous things about near-mountain life (we live in the Front Range of the Rocky mountains up on the mesa on the west side of Colorado Springs), is the plethora of rainbows. We have many each year even with just a little rain; this year, we have bookoo displays weekly. The above beauty –they’re so hard to photograph– was snapped just off Highway 24 up near Cascade by my husband Dave while I was a church board meeting. Faithful Christian folk call rainbows, “God’s promise.” (Think Noah.) I can never help but think it. Right after I think about the pot of gold, that is. (Think Fred Astaire in “Finnian’s Rainbow.”) Continue reading
A dear friend of mine named Joyce once wrote a card — one of many she’s sent over the years — and mentioned she was still making my pork chop with potatoes and apples supper. I vaguely remembered that meal, but it was one of those quick meals I never bothered to write down. These days I keep a cooking journal and so have records of meals or at least titles and approximate amounts. (Well, I’m supposed to anyway. Since the kitchen remodel I’m still finding things. Do you know where the lids are for my small Pyrex dishes? Or my good silver??)
Late Friday afternoon found me cooking up two big pots of Pumpkin-Chicken Chili *-– one for us to share with neighbors and one for me to have in the DACOR kitchen at Shouse Appliance on Saturday. I needed to make a vat of pinto beans laced with bacon, so those were bubbling away on another burner. Enter Dave sniffing around for dinner.
(Apple-Cheddar Salad recipe here.)
Since I didn’t want him to overdose on chili, I got out my big sauté pan — it’s about 5 quarts — and threw in a few quickly sliced potatoes, onions, and apples. On the counter was a yellow (summer) squash that had seen better days. I sliced it and threw that in, too. After those goodies were about half-way tender, I shoved them to the side of the pan and added some oiled and seasoned pork chops. Lid on and dinner was done by the time I set the table and Dave opened a bottle of Pinot Noir.
*If you ate this chili in the Dacor kitchen, it differs from the recipe in three ways: I used beer instead of wine and added cooked Italian sausage as well as the bacon in the beans.
Above: I had the pups all “dressed” for Halloween and a big bowl of candy. We had two trick-or-treaters. The name Rosie seems to be sticking, despite my love for “Mara,” and all the other wonderful suggestions we’ve received. I think it’s because I like to sing this old song to her. This morning I found her asleep on my feet while I was checking email. She’s doing wonderfully well, though we’re still working hard on house training. Puppies.
Happy Fall cooking…
Below: Rosie practicing “Come” with Dave in the front yard.
ONE-PAN PORK CHOPS WITH POTATOES, ONIONS, SQUASH, AND APPLES
SERVES 2 — Easily doubled
There is enough of the potato mixture to serve another day with eggs or you might be able to stretch it to serve four if you can fit four chops in your pan and serve a green vegetable or salad as a side. The wine or water makes just a little sauce to keep it all moist.
To a large, deep skillet or sauté pan heated over medium-high flame, add 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil along with 3 sliced potatoes, 1 large sliced onion, 1 sliced yellow (summer) squash, and 1 cored and sliced apple. Season generously with seasoned or kosher salt, pepper, and a good pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ten minutes or so until all are at least half-way tender. Push the potato mixture to the sides of the pan to make room for the chops.
Add 2 thick bone-in pork chops you’ve brushed with oil and seasoned well with salt, pepper, and a good pinch of dried thyme. Cook until the chops are well- browned on one side and turn over to brown the other side. Stir the vegetables and apples, pour in 1/4 cup white wine*, then cover and reduce heat until everything is tender. Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chops for doneness. They should read 145 degrees. Let dinner rest in pan five minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with the grated zest of one lemon.
*Can sub water or chicken broth for wine. For a more smoothly silky sauce, dab in a tablespoon of butter as well.
Sing a new song; cook some pork chops,
If its August. If it’s Colorado. I’m eating peaches. Any day. Every day. For at least two weeks. By themselves. On Greek Yogurt with Colorado honey and slivered toasted almonds. Or granola. On top of vanilla frozen yogurt. In a salsa on pork chops. Etcetera.
Here are a few of the yummy things I’ve done. Of course the best? Above. Fuzzy naked.
Preheat clean grill to medium-high heat. Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Brush each half with a little bit of canola oil and place cut-side down on grill. Let cook about 3 or 4 minutes and turn over when grill marks are well-established, but not blackened. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes until tops of cut-side are somewhat visibly drying. Remove and cool briefly. Enjoy as is or try another good idea…
2-6 t very finely minced jalapeno (to your taste–start with 2t and more if you’d like)
1/3 c finely minced onion
2 large peaches (Colorado preferred), cut in half and grilled*, peeled after grilling, and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 ea medium red sweet pepper and green sweet pepper, diced
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Dash of kosher salt and a couple of grates of fresh ground pepper
In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients gently but thoroughly. Taste and correct seasoning if necessary. (Add more jalapeno, etc) Serve on with grilled pork chops, shrimp or salmon or on seafood or fish tacos. (recipe copyright Alyce Morgan 2010)
Wine? If you make the bbq pork chops or salmon, try a little inexpensive Beaujolais. Other reds or bigger wines will overwhelm this meal, though a nice Lodi (California) Zinfandel would drink! It’s summer and something lighter and refreshing will turn on these peaches. If you make the shrimp or fish tacos, a cold Spanish Albarino (lovely white) or even an Oregon Pinot Gris could do the trick.
(If you’d like to make the green bean salad, here’s the blogpost for it, though I dressed it differently here. Rather than a mustard vinaigrette, I mixed a bit of top-quality light Ranch with some roasted salsa for a dressing.)
Lovely frozen yogurt from David Levovitz’ book THE PERFECT SCOOP. (Click for the recipe.) Just slice those lovely lady peaches and slither them on top of this silky iced lushness.
Or try PEACH AMARETTO BREAD PUDDING if nothing else sounds good:
- 2 large hard rolls, cut into ½” slices and buttered
- 2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced into 1/3” pieces
- 3 extra large eggs
- 1 ½ -1 ¾ cups milk
- 1/8 c Amaretto liqueur
- 1 t cinnamon (Vietnamese is good)
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 2 qt round casserole and set aside.
- In medium bowl, beat eggs and add remaining ingredients. Beat well.
- Layer bread and peaches in casserole dish and pour egg mixture over all, stirring just a bit to make sure all ingredients are wet. If some bread/peaches are sticking out on top, it’s fine.
- Bake 60-70 min. until edges are crispy, but bread is still tender. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Can also be served at room temperature or cold.
While you do all that, I’m on the road again with a fishing pole in the trunk….
We’ll be back next week…all of us.
In the meantime, keep cooking…
Sing a new song, Alyce