In which I introduce our wildlife.
Sickness has invaded our house. It came in with a slight wheeze that turned into a cough. A slight sniffle, a small sneeze. The weather is going to turn again, maybe for real this time? We want to be outside absorbing the last little bits of vitamin D, finishing up the yard work that we wanted to get done before it got too cold. Instead we are just doing small bits of things in between dealing with assorted viruses. We could all use some comfort food.
I pulled this recipe out from the archives. I originally made it in the summer when my tomatoes and peppers were fresh from the garden. There is nothing quite like summer tomatoes. The woodchuck that lives under our garage agrees. Tiko has an entrance to his den in the garden. We put a fence around the garden hoping to keep rabbits and assorted other animals out, but there is no stopping a woodchuck. The garden had been a dog kennel. Apparently even though I can still smell dog in the area, it doesn’t bother Tiko.
Tiko also likes apples and will sit up and eat an apple just like a human.
At some point this summer, we realized that Tiko also has a girlfriend. We named her Tika. I have these images of Tiko and Tika hanging out and Tika saying things like “I don’t like that wall there. I want more of an open concept.” and Tiko obligingly digs another hole. “You know, our living space is just not big enough, we need a bonus room.” Tiko sighs and gets back to work. We need to relocate Tiko and Tika before we have a bunch of little Tikis running around our yard digging up holes that I will probably break my ankle in.
When you make these pork chops, make sure the pan is covered tightly when you put it in the oven. The steam from all the juice and liquid will cook the rice. If for some reason, you are nervous about the rice not cooking all the way, just put it on the bottom of the pan to absorb all the yumminess from the pork and veggies.
This dish is so basic and easy that you’ll be able to think of a thousand ways to change it up to fit whatever you are craving. If summer veggies are no longer available, think about using fall fruits with the onion. In the dead of winter, you can use some mushrooms and greens. Hate pork? Use chicken breast. Have 6 people coming for dinner? Slice another onion and another tomato. Serving just you? You can still make this. It beats anything from the cookbook “Microwave Cooking For One”.
Share this recipe with your kids. Have them make it. This is the sort of food that you want them to be able to cook so that you don’t have to worry when they are on their own.
In which I attempt to hold onto summer for a minute longer.
I still have a few tomatoes clinging to the vines in my garden. There are plenty of green tomatoes that I should pick and use to make Green Tomato Mincemeat or Fried Green Tomatoes. That might come later. I’m clinging to the skirts of summer, pulling on the hems, begging it not to leave quite yet. There is so much preparation that has to happen before winter and so little daylight to do it all. Rather than dwelling on the melancholy of passing time, I’m going to grab another ripe tomato and make this salad again.
There is a movement going on right now called “Will It Waffle?”. In his book Daniel Shumski answers this question over and over to delicious ends.
I believe this salad was created with a similar thought in mind, and probably before Mr. Shumski was even thinking about waffles. Everyone has had BLTs. There is that pleasure of biting into the crispy toast and having the tomato juice combine with the mayo as it drips down your hands. Saladizing the classic sandwich gives it a bit of elegance. You can serve it in a bowl, eat it with a knife and fork. It instantly becomes fancy food. It’s not just a salad, it’s a Panzanella.
Take one last bite out of summer. Find that last red tomato and make this salad. Fancy it up with a good loaf of Italian or French bread. Use your favorite bacon. Get out your fancy dishes and eat this salad.
In which I put on some chaps
With these old recipes, there are occasions where the recipe is just non-specific enough that it allows for me to interpret something in a slightly different way. Sometimes this is as easy as in the Apple Marmalade where I chose to use blood oranges instead of a regular seeded orange. Sometimes it requires switching out types of mustard. A lot of recipes call for the addition of prepared mustard. I am sure that the original intention was to use basic yellow mustard. That’s boring. Not only do we have a friend that has a mustard fridge and has done mustard judging, but when we went to the Mustard Festival at the Mustard Museum the kids won 8 bottles of mustard from Koop’s and French’s. Not one of those mustard’s was plain yellow. However, in this recipe, because of the title, we had no mustard more appropriate to use than Giddy Up mustard. I mean, right? It fits the theme.As long as we are going there, let’s get a good picture of this recipe. Imagine you are a cowboy. You have been driving cows down the range. You are hot, you are tired and dusty. The sun is now setting, the cows are lowing as they eat sweet meadow grass. You may hear the trickle of a stream. If you weren’t bow-legged, your chaps would swish softly as you walked. Instead, you hear a small jangle of your spurs and the wail of a harmonica as you walk to the chuck wagon. Your tin plate is in your hand and old Cooky glops something onto it. More than likely it’s a lot like this dish. (Ok, probably not, I think I heard stories about the amount of beans that were eaten, but just go with it for the sake of the story.)
This rice-based casserole sort of reminds me of something like chili. The molasses provides a deep richness. I chopped the olives up super fine because at least one of the kids still claims to hate them and they’ve never been John’s favorite. I found that I needed to add some water that the recipe didn’t call for in order to cook the rice all the way. I might’ve had slightly better luck if I wasn’t still missing the lid to my Dutch oven. I may just have to break down and buy a new one some day, but I’m not quite ready for that kind of upgrade yet. The best thing about casseroles is that they are infinitely adaptable. We might’ve added some chipotle powder to ours. We might’ve added some ancho pepper to it. There is a possibility that we put some cheese in it and maybe some french fried onions on top and served it with optional sour cream…For all of the additions that we might’ve made, I am still pretty sure the best choice we made was the addition of something more than plain yellow mustard.
Coming up next: Groovy Teen Bars
In which I make confessions about preserving.
I struggle with preserving. I am a process person and need to be completely organized when I begin. This was a struggle. I often psych myself out of beginning because the workflow seems intimidating. Canning is really not that hard. It helps to have everything in place and set up before you begin, but the process is not overly complicated. This is a place, however, where my training in project management and creating work flows helps. I am able to visualize everything that needs to happen including timelines so that I don’t get in over my head.However, problems come in when in the middle of chopping everything, I realized I only had half the amount of celery that I needed. And then comes the struggle. I want to be true to the recipes, but there have to be some cases where substitutions are allowed. I split the difference on this one. I went to the store and got the celery, but I did not go to Penzey’s to get cayenne pepper and used Berbere seasoning instead. Berbere is an Ethiopian spice blend, the main ingredient of which is cayenne pepper. When I consulted mom, she reassured me that great-grandma probably left it out all together. Whatever. We are talking about 1/4 tsp in a vat of tomatoes, apples, celery, and onions.
And since we are doing true confessions here, I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned. I put a garden where the dog kennel used to be. I grew a lot of weeds where I didn’t put down landscaping fabric, but I also managed to get some usable veggies out the situation including tomatoes.This recipe seems exotic for 1950’s Iowa, but I can see where it would be a good use for those vegetables that are still hanging on when the apples are starting to ripen. Chutney, though, is one of those things that I sometimes have a hard time using up. It’s a relish and goes with roasted meats. It can be mixed into mayo and put on sandwiches. Mix some into some veggies to make them more exciting. I have no better ideas to use it and jars of it to use. Please help. This is a good basic chutney. Not something you’d find in an Indian restaurant. It might have a little too much celery for my taste, but it’s good. It’s that nice mix of sweet and tart and spicy that chutney should be.