Down to basics – roasted pork chops with pan sauce

October 25, 2012 § 9 Comments

Two weekends ago Joel was out of town camping.  He went with my good friend Kaitlin’s husband, which meant Kait and I were both home alone.  Not for long!  Quickly it turned into a weekend of yoga workshops, coffee time, and a hot tub with wine.  Talk about awesome.  And continuing the awesomeness, my parents invited us both over for dinner.  My mother had purchased four pork chops, but there were just two of them, so the addition of two more was, in her words, quite perfect.

There were also figs.  Clearly, you don’t say no when there are pork chops and figs involved (which has been rather an obsession for me this fall – I think I’ve made it 3 times myself).

My mother had a plan.  Obviously.  After all, she had bought the pork chops and figs and is well-versed in the art of getting dinner on the table.  But, I am one of those people who, if I am not doing the cooking, hovers obnoxiously in the kitchen observing and asking questions.  And, at a certain point I, truly obnoxiously, butted in because it became apparent that my mom had never made seared pork chops, finished in the oven, and followed by a pan sauce.  And then I learned that Kaitlin never had either.

Which leads me to the question, have you???  It’s so easy, when you are familiar with something, to forget that that doesn’t necessarily make it common knowledge, to forget that other people may not know that particular information.

Of course, even if you are intimately familiar with pan roasted pork chops with pan sauce, well, too late, because I have already fashioned a blog post about it at my mother’s and Kait’s request, and who knows, you may still learn something!  Or you may discover you have some good tips to offer me (I hope)! « Read the rest of this entry »

“Em’s Buns

September 26, 2011 § 6 Comments

…They’re cheeky! (TM)”  That’s the name and slogan of my imaginary company. In my mind I even have caps and aprons with this printed on them, along with a little line drawing of a rotund bun speckled with sesame seeds. You see, when I threaten to drop out of my PhD program, (which happens at least once a week, if not more. The threats increase with the approach of each deadline and then subside after successfully achieving said deadline.  It’s kind of one of my ways of pretending like I’m rebellious, and of asserting my sense of autonomy – and the word on the street is almost every PhD student under the sun does something similar, well except for the part to follow) my plan for what I will do next is to start a bicycle-pulled food stand from which I will sell little stuffed buns as an afternoon snack from 2:30-5pm.  And, it’s my idea, so don’t steal it!! 🙂

The idea for afternoon buns was inspired by the buns they have at the St. John Hotel. I’ve never had their afternoon buns, but I read their description of them as “warm little buttock-like buns” and I thought it was the most hilarious and ingenious thing ever. Basically everything Fergus Henderson does is genius.

A little stuffed bun is exactly what I want as a snack in the afternoon every day. So, I decided I absolutely had start working on making them.

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Curried tuna salad sandwich

February 7, 2011 § 9 Comments

I packed the saddest lunch with me to work last Friday. Well, maybe not the saddest, given that I’ve packed some pretty sad lunches with me in my time. Like the day in college where all I managed to scrounge together was a couple of Tablespoons of peanut butter in a Tupper ware. Or the day of cold leftover rice and a can of tuna mixed with mustard. These are the strange, pathetic things that happen when the refrigerator is virtually empty and I’m going somewhere for the weekend, so I put a moratorium on grocery shopping. Such was the case on Friday when my lunch consisted of a tiny limp dressing-less salad – saved from being entirely irrelevant only by the presence of a few chunks of avocado – and a piece of sprouted grain bread.

I think I was hungrier after I finished eating it than when I began. Then I decided to walk the 5 miles to a meeting I had to go to. It was sunny out for the first time in days and this had convinced me that walking was the best way to get from any given point A to any desired point B, which I think would have actually been true, except that the sun had not taken it upon itself to bother with melting the thick coating of ice on the sidewalks, so I wound up walk-skate-slip-sliding the 5 miles. By the time I reached my destination my stomach was growling loudly and angrily, and for whatever reason, the only thing I could think about was meat Stromboli. I probably would have eaten a stick at that point, but what I really really wanted was a Stromboli absolutely packed with lots and lots of meat. Feeling borderline deranged I rushed into a Whole Foods next door to where I was going, and when I beelined to the deli/cafe section, miraculously, they were serving Italian meatball Stromboli! Saved!  My guardian food angel must have taken pity on me.

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When life gives you bruised, mushy apples…

February 23, 2010 § 2 Comments

It is not apple season in these parts.  During the crystalline fall days in New England, when the sky is the blue of the eponymous Crayola crayon (sorry, I just really wanted to use the word eponymous) and the leaves are so colorful it seems like they’re just showing off, then there is quite possibly no better place in the world to get apples.  At that time of year I gorge myself on dozens of varieties from farmer’s market stalls and local orchards.  I just can’t get enough.  I have kind of a thing for apples.  Especially cut into exactly four pieces.  Don’t ask.  One of the best days of my life was when I visited a variety grove for one of my agriculture classes – hundreds of obscure varieties of apples, and we were allowed to taste as many as we liked.  I almost missed the bus back home, I wandered so deeply into the expanse of the orchard.

Anyway, this is all getting back to the fact that, right now it is not apple season, unless you are in the southern hemisphere.  I generally feel guilty about buying apples shipped from New Zealand, so I try to do the seasonal thing, but sometimes I succumb to the desire for an apple (I identify with Eve in the garden of Eden, but more for wanting to eat the fruit, less for wanting the knowledge) and I buy some local storage apples, that have been waiting out the winter in dark crates.  They’re almost always bruised and kind of mealy.  The ones I just got certainly were.  But even if your apples are mealy, all is not lost.  It makes for a perfect excuse to make applesauce! « Read the rest of this entry »

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apples

December 8, 2009 § 1 Comment

The universe seems to have some sort of rule that I am not allowed to be productive for two days in a row.  Yesterday was fabulous!  I was completely focused and plowed through my work, which never happens on a Monday.  Today…oi!  It’s nearing lunch time and I have yet to accomplish anything beyond standing up to stretch every 5 minutes and then sitting down in front of my computer and finding myself checking the weather online for the 976th time (it’s cold and sunny, by the way).  Somehow I think it may not have been in my best interest to decide to work from a café instead of my office today (Beyonce serenading me is somehow not helping with the process of curriculum editing, who’d’ve known?!).  So, in the hope of doing something at least very slightly productive, I have decided to stop trying altogether and instead think about butternut squash.

Why butternut squash?  Well, a) because I’ve been cooking a lot of it and b) because it is such a low maintenance vegetable I feel like I might be able to muster enough concentration to deal with the thought of one right now.  Butternut is one of those great vegetables to stock up on because if you keep them somewhere cool and dry, they’ll keep for a good long time without any extra attention and you can pull one out whenever you’re looking for something to cook.  My friends Griff and Liz bought a bunch of squash in bulk last year in the fall and stashed them all over their apartment – we kept discovering them peeking out from under the couches, behind the doors, on bookshelves (everywhere except the pantry!).  The squash lasted them right through until early summer, not once complaining of neglect. « Read the rest of this entry »

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