In which I want to know “Who wants to know?”
The recipe opens with the line “Son Jimmy’s favorite pork dish.” It’s things like this that prick my imagination. Who was Jimmy?
He probably wasn’t Jimmy Ray.
I can’t quite imagine Jimmy Ray eating a pork chop topped with apples, maraschino cherries, and brown sugar. But I have a feeling that the Jimmy that these pork chops were named after was a Groovy Teen. How could he not be?
I originally made this recipe in the fall when my apples were ripe. If you don’t know about my apple trees, you can find out more about them here and here. I made so many apple recipes at the time, but figured that you may not want to read about nothing but apples, so backlogged this one.
The pork for this recipe came from the sale bin. I love seeing what is in the reduced meat section of the grocery store. Sometimes there are things like beef shanks or pork neck bones. I love to get those cuts of meat and slowly cook them until they fall off the bone and have made magical gravy to serve over mashed potatoes. Usually I’ll throw some garlic in there to roast. That either gets incorporated into the sauce or spread on homemade bread.
None of which is relevant to this recipe. I only brought it up because I did not have 3/4 inch pork chops. I had tiny little thin cut pork chops because they were on sale.
That part is important because thin pork chops cook much quicker than thick cut pork chops. Which means that they can overcook quickly if you aren’t watching them. Nobody likes a dry pork chop. To try to mimic the effect of the thicker pork chops, I sandwiched an apple slice between layers of pork. I feel like they were still a little dry, but not too bad. It wasn’t quite that experience of biting into a nicely marbled pork chop on the bone where the fatty edge is just sort of melting into the rest of the meat. (And all the vegetarians that are accidentally reading this are cringing).
This is a solid meat and potatoes sort of dish. It’s sweeter than I like an entree to be, but not so sweet you feel like you need insulin.
Speaking of potatoes…I ran into Target while my husband stayed in the car with the kids (one of whom needed a nap like you wouldn’t believe). While he waited he read an article of genius facts or something like that. When I got back in, he attempted to impress me with the fact that everything in the world could be labelled as a potato or not a potato. Of course I started brilliantly discussing how not everything we label as a potato is actually a potato and yams and sweet potatoes are not the same thing. Then I asked “Would it be a better classification if we labelled everything as “tuber or not tuber?” To which my clever husband replied “That is the question.” I retorted that that wasn’t funny, as I laughed and he snort-laughed next to me. We never fail to amuse ourselves. (If you don’t get why this was not funny, review Hamlet).
And don’t serve sweet potatoes as a side dish for this meat. It’s just too much sweetness.
In which I am prepared…and not so much.
I am a planner. Some people (not mentioning any names here, but I’m calling you out…) say that I’m a control freak. I prefer the term “prepared”. I just find that things seems to flow better if I know what to expect. There is comfort in it. By the time this post publishes, I will be on a work trip to Canada. My husband and kids will be home by themselves. Because I’m me, I want to have some things prepared for them to eat before I leave. It’s just easier for everyone if they don’t have to think about it. Plus it makes it less likely that they will default to pizza every night that they aren’t eating boxed macaroni and cheese. My husband is a getting to be a much better cook because he’s had to take over a lot of the initial meal prep with our work schedules, but when the cat’s away, the mice will play. (Which is a really gross cliche to put on a food blog.)And speaking of making sure my family is taken care of, I decided to take my blog writing on the road today and worked from a coffee shop this morning. The boys are with their dad and we brought the girl with us because she’s been wanting to get back there and play in their super cool kid area. The coffee shop is known as the town’s living room. We chose a table near the kids’ area, got her a muffin and a chocolate milk that she won’t eat or drink until much later because she already had 3 breakfasts and really just wanted to play. There were a couple of women sitting at table near us. One of them was slightly younger than the other, but if someone had said that they both had grandchildren, I wouldn’t be surprised. Except, I kind of feel like neither of them had ever had kids since they started loudly talking about how terrible we are for bringing our child to a coffee shop and not spending time with her. One of them looked like an old church lady. She would lean forward and whisper something to her companion who would comment outloud about how neglectful we are. It makes me crazy. I feel the need to justify myself and my choices. But it doesn’t matter. They wouldn’t get it. And now they are talking about child psychology. I just can’t even.
Anyway, back to this casserole. The recipe specifically says to make it in two pans. This is so that you can throw one of them in the freezer for another time. Which is perfect if you are trying to take care of your family long distance because you have to do things…like work. This is also one of those recipes that is easy to change up based on whatever your food preferences are. Doing low-carb? Use quinoa instead of rice. Hate kidney beans? Use something else. Don’t feel like going Italian? Use Chorizo or breakfast sausage or chicken sausages of whatever sort, use vegan whatever…I don’t know. (I’m still shaking my head about those ladies.)
A note: when baking this, keep it covered. If you don’t keep it covered, the rice won’t cook. Someone at my house learned this the hard way when he was cooking the second one or something else similar. (Aren’t you glad I don’t name names, sweetie?) Seriously, though. DO NOT try to cook it uncovered unless you like crunchy burnt rice (and no one does).
In which you can watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.
It’s time to break out the recipes that make you go hmmmm….
One of the things that helped foster my dislike for Jell-o (other than old church ladies who put mayonnaise on it instead of Cool-Whip) was the meat gelatin I ate while visiting a friend in Poland for Easter. It was layers of vegetables and meat and hardboiled eggs ensconced in gelatin. There was some sort of sauce to put on top. I’m sure it’s fancy gourmet food. At another time in my life, in another place, it might’ve been amazing. At that point in time, however, it was just not my thing. When we read literature about Russia and Poland, we think of foods like cabbage rolls and borscht. (See what I did there? Linked the two thoughts) Cold weather vegetables that store well. Which makes this whole recipe make a lot more sense. So put on your fur coat, study up on a little Boris and Natasha and get ready for this recipe.
I did not pickle any beets this year. (Or really any other year, although I think I have a recipe for pickled beets that I should make.) We resorted to buying a jar of pickled beets at the grocery store. The girl was being extra helpful and tried to unload the grocery cart. Despite warning her, she dropped a full jar of pickled beets on the unyielding tile floor of the grocery store. Nothing like the smell of vinegar and embarrassment.
As you get to the point of finely slicing cabbage, just grate it in the food processor like the onion. I can never slice cabbage thinly enough for my own taste. I even have some decent knives (that might need to be sharpened), but I still can’t get it to the point I like it. Maybe I just find thick cabbage or something? If you don’t do this, you will end up with the mess that I got.
Zippy Beet Salad could actually be good. I mean, yeah, it’s weird, there is no getting around that. But the thing that threw it off most was the cabbage. It was long and stringy and there was a lot of it. More than there should be for the small amount of gelatinized beet juice.
You will notice from the pictures that I tried to mold this salad. My darling Mother-in-Law sent me her favorite Jell-o mold. It didn’t work so well for me on this recipe. I ‘d try it again with one of those creamy salads with things like crushed pineapple and marshmallows. But you can see the star on the top.
If you don’t like beets, this will probably not be the dish that will change your mind about it. If you do…try it. It’s not the worst thing you’ll put in your mouth.
In which Nancy Drew appears.
When I was very young (probably between 4 and 6) my mom walked in on me reading two Nancy Drew books at the same time. I would read one page of one book and then one page of the other book and then turn both pages at the same time. I have a vague memory of this. I explained to her that the stories were too formulaic and boring and therefore needed to be spiced up. (Not quite in those words, but that was the thought.)From a very early age, I loved a good mystery. More often than not, the books I have checked out in Overdrive are mysteries. The really good ones have twists that you never see coming. The silly ones are fairly obvious from early on and I spend most of the book waiting for the characters to catch up to where I already am.There was one book I read a few years back where the main character knew who the killer was by asking for them for an answer to a cryptic crossword. I was confounded at the time, but have since learned to do cryptics. Not nearly as well as my friend that takes existing crossword puzzles and then writes his own clues to the answers. Also, not nearly as well, as our other friend who just has the sort of brain that overthinks everything (Yes, mom, even worse than I do.) I do best when I have someone else with whom I can discuss the possibilities. I am usually pretty good at sussing out secrets. Not always to my benefit. Occasionally, though, there are things that I just never see coming. Like when my half-brother became my half-sister. Never saw that coming.
Some of these recipes are like that. Where I just have no idea what it is that I’m supposed to expect. Like “Japanese” Chicken or Deviled Hot Dogs. Then there are others that give me an idea, but don’t give me a lot of details. Unbaked Cookies is a good example, as are most of the cake recipes. I spend a lot of time assessing what I know about cooking and applying that logic. That’s part of the appeal about doing this blog for me. Solving the mystery of these recipes, taking some pictures, trying them out so people know what to expect. It’s so easy these days to search for a recipe online. Most of them have explicit how-tos and pictures. It wasn’t always quite so easy. This recipe was an easy one. It just didn’t have a title. Or instructions. It’s probably a good thing that the thing I like to read best after mysteries is cookbooks. Yep. Just read them like novels. It’s a great way to see how ingredients are supposed to go together and which foods pair well with other foods. It gives you an idea of the culture and values of populations. Shows you how much time people have to cook or bake. It’s an anthropological study (read: mystery).
Another note about these cookies, I don’t like creamy peanut butter. I know, I know, it might call one to question all sorts of things about me, but I said it. Peanut butter without nuts is just like paste. Texture needs to happen for me. It needs some crunch. It needs to be more than just glue that sticks to the roof of your mouth. You may point out that this recipe calls for cornflake crumbs and that should provide the texture I say I need, but that’s crisp, not crunch. Incidentally, these cookies are delicious.
I cup margarine (2 sticks) creamed with 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar. When while creamed, add one egg and 1 tsp vanilla. Add 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 1/3 cups of flour, 1/4 tsp salt. After everything is mixed together, gently mix in 1 cup of cornflake crumbs. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350°. Yield is 4 dozen.
In which I remind you about the most important meal of the day.
Time to get crazy. I’m doing a special bonus recipe off my normal Tuesday and Thursday posting schedule. Woo hoo!
In all honesty, this is because I made something similar for breakfast this morning and was trying to to remember where I got the idea. (clears throat…of course it was great-grandma). I don’t know why I don’t do stuff like this more often. It’s so freaking easy. It doesn’t require a lot of time or attention or anything else.
Get out your big yellow box of Bisquik, chop some apples and go to town. This one is adaptable. For breakfast this morning, I topped the biscuits with raw beaten egg, ham, goat cheddar, and some Italian herbs. It makes a lovely breakfast.
This thing is so easy, you could probably even make it with your first cup of coffee before you get ready to start your Monday.