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 »

Mushroom and chevre frittata and scenes from a Saturday

April 15, 2012 § 16 Comments

Yesterday we traveled up along Massachusetts’ North Shore brimming with purpose.  Brimming also with coffee because that is a central element of a Saturday morning in this household.  We were on our way to visit Turkey Shore Distillery, to learn more about the distilling process and to pick the owner’s brain of everything he knows.

But first came a requisite stop along the beach for a walk and a picnic.  We wiggled our toes in the sand, waded brashly into the water (followed by an expeditious exit back onto the shore), and enthusiastically dug holes.  Well, some of us dug holes.  Some of us stayed on the sidelines and cheered.

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Baked eggs and yogurt biscuits

February 24, 2012 § 25 Comments

The other day as I sat staring down at my long scratchy to-do list, I suddenly saw it transform before my eyes, distinctly and unmistakeably, into a lamprey, writhing on the page and viciously sucking all the life out of my day.  Gruesome.  And, I knew at once that the image was completely accurate.  I’ve been living off of my to-do list lately.  Actually, it is more like I have been possessed by my to-do list, a drone under its command.

The list consists of winding pages of the endless tasks that ought to be taken care of in between the meetings and duties that create rows of blocks in my calendar, like the bricks of a parapet.  The fact of the matter is, there are things that must get done, and better to list them out than try to keep them sorted and ordered in my poor, addled brain.  But, lately I’ve let the list get to me.  The magnitude of it, and my brain-numbed reliance on it, have left me feeling empty.  It takes over my mind even during the moments I’m trying to let go and recharge.  And that’s where the trouble comes from.

When I wake up, I feel that brief wondrous moment of expansiveness that the morning brings.  Here is the day!  It is filled with possibility!  For two seconds.  Then the list comes thundering down on my head.  It shutters and boards up anything that looks remotely like possibility and replaces them with a sense of floundering and stress.  Feelings that don’t get you anywhere.

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Tuna noodle casserole – redux

June 17, 2011 § 4 Comments

Photo credit: Sarah Shatz

I have some other recipes to share with you that I’ve been concocting with my mother while I’m here in the great North Woods.  But, I forgot my camera cord and can’t download any pictures.  Oops.

Also, this trip is turning out to be a busy one.  Without much time for musings and ramblings about food.  Nope.  We’re running around looking at flowers, checking on dresses, practicing hairstyles (or, more accurately, having hairstyles practiced upon us).  You see, we’re planning a wedding.

And, in answer to your question (in case you are a careful reader and just put two and two together, and found yourself saying, “heyyy, wait a sec…”), yes, Joel and I are already married.  But, we still haven’t had our wedding!  So, we’re gearing up to say our vows in the eyes of our friends and communities and to have a wonderful celebration, come October.

But, I didn’t want to send you all into the weekend without something delicious to think about.  Luckily, I have a recipe I created a while back that I just haven’t found the perfect opportunity for sharing yet.  But, I think this may be it.  So, in honor of being home in Minnesota (I haven’t lived here in years, but let me say, Minnesota is definitely still home!) I’m going to share with you a staple of the Midwest – and Lutheran church basements in particular – a casserole.  Or as it is more properly called, a hotdish. « Read the rest of this entry »

Mushroom-falafel!

June 1, 2011 § 41 Comments

Mushroom-falafel!  (Yes, the exclamation point is necessary there.)  It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, I’ll admit.  But, what was I supposed to call it?  Mushlafel?  Falafshroom? See? Those are even worse sounding.  But, like the kid with the weird name who is so awesome that by the end of the year all the other kids also want to be named Kermit too, this mushroom-falafel is so fabulous it straight-up owns its name.

I’m a little embarrassed that I get as excited as I do when I make something really good.  But, I do.  I get quite delighted with myself, in fact, and can’t wait to share how delicious said really good thing is.  This dish definitely falls into that category.

It started with a falafel craving.

One of the most unfortunate things about having discovered an intolerance to a sprouting inhibitor enzyme (besides not being able to eat almonds, but I’ll save that complaint for another day) is that I no longer eat falafel because of the chickpeas.  It’s a huge loss because I used to practically live off of falafel.  I was obsessed with the stuff.

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Lasagne with asparagus and mushrooms

May 6, 2011 § 9 Comments

For some reason I want to tell you all “quick, quick, make this lasagne!”  I have an odd sort of urgency about it, and I have no idea why.  Maybe it’s that I think the asparagus is going to go scurrying off into hiding before too long, or that soon it will be too hot to even consider baking something 45 minutes, let alone having that something include a creamy sauce.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s delicious and we should all hurry up and make it so we can eat it (or eat it again, if you’re me).

Not that lasagne is something you can really hurry.  Its architectural layers require some care and engineering to assemble if you want it to come out with beautiful, colored striations, which you do because then it looks a bit like a cool white, green, and brown sandstone cliff.  And, it takes some time to bake, no way around that.  But, all the more reason to get right to it, and not wait around hemming and hawing about whether lasagne should be on the weekend agenda!

I love lasagne.  It feels so pleasantly familial to eat it.  Yet, I don’t make it very often, and I’m not sure why.  Wait, scratch that.  I do know why.  It’s because much of the time there are just the two of us here at dinner, and lasagne is the food of the large crowd.  The family reunion potluck, the ski-team dinner, the 13 kids are coming for a sleep over what on earth am I going to make, occasions.  Often it doesn’t seem quite worth it for two.  And though it makes splendid leftovers – I always think lasagne tastes even better the second day – well, if you make a really big one, it can take a little uncomfortably long to work your way through it.

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Mushroom, spinach, and cheese roulade

December 4, 2010 § 7 Comments

I had the sudden realization during a conversation the other day that I have a tendency to go through, shall we say, unique obsessive phases.  I was telling someone that I was really obsessed with igneous rocks – well, actually just obsidian and pumice – for about a year in middle school, and they gave me a look that clearly said, “I think that either you are from some planet that is separated from Earth by at least one asteroid belt, or else you probably grew up under one of those igneous rocks that you were obsessed with.”  It had never really occurred to me before that this kind of obsession may not be entirely normal, and then I started thinking about some of my other obsessions.  Scarab beetles, for a while.  I was also fixated on Aquaporins (that would be the protein channels that allow water to travel through cell walls) and prions (the misfolded proteins that cause mad cow disease) at various points in time.  And the concept of zero.  And bloodroot flowers.  And the “cerulean” Crayola crayon.  And, well, you get the idea.

I also go through obsessive food phases (surprising no one).  Like ricotta, or lemon zest, or chorizo, or mini turnovers.  The phase I am currently in is Ottolenghi.  That would be Yotam Ottolenghi and his eponymous cafes in London.  One of my younger brothers is currently in London for grad school, which means that in theory he could get take out from Ottolenghi any time he wished.  Ah, how unfair the world is.  My obsession with Ottolenghi is by no means unique, however.  He’s a bit of a buzzword in the food world, particularly because he has a new cookbook of vegetarian recipes out this year, and ever growing swaths of people are being extolling how fresh, curious, vibrant, and downright stunning his recipes are.  He is the cure for food doldrums.

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