As most of ya’ll know, I would describe myself as a ‘foodie’ because of my love for cooking. And eating, of course. Oh yes, eating. While I love to cook and bake, I’m not the type of cook that knows how to experiment with my own concoctions or play around with recipes to enhance them. I am not creative with food. My Momma is. Nearly every time I’m with her, she seems to have made up her own recipe that turns out incredibly well. But as we delve into her ‘art’ and rave about it, she prefaces that she didn’t write down the recipe and can’t remember what she did. What!? Oh, she would say she dabbled a little with this and sprinkled in a little of that. But I need a written recipe! I need the full play-by-play. Word for word. I’m a rule follower and that applies to not straying from a recipe’s instructions. But even then, it’s not guaranteed to turn out well.
Take for instance last Friday. We had some dear friends and their two teenage girls over for dinner. I made Fruity Baked Chicken. I’ve made it before and it’s quite tasty. I was already a little on edge because it was the first time we’ve had dinner guests over since Brennan was born, and I tried my darndest to time his bedtime and dinner just right. Well, our guests ate rather late. Not only that, to my utter dismay, I looked over at my friend’s plate and her chicken was undercooked! The horror of pink that I saw from the corner of my eye made my face flush red out of embarrassment. Do I say anything? Do I just ignore it? What if she gets sick*? What was everyone else’s chicken like? I devoured mine, but why did hers have to be undercooked? I wanted to cry. Badly.
I opted to say something: I profusely apologized! This precious lady was incredibly gracious, trying hard to convince me it was just fine and not undercooked. Her husband even said, “It’s gotta be edible for her to have eaten it, because if anyone would worry about it, she would.” Ya’ll, while cleaning up, I examined the chicken she didn’t eat and it was totally undercooked. <shudder> I have no clue how the rest of our guests’ chicken was, or the chicken that my friend did eat. They kept trying to assure me that the meal was wonderful. But I know. I know. Since it was undercooked, by default, it was horrible! They were nothing less than gracious though. Being that they have lived and traveled extensively overseas and are aware of cultural rules about eating everything off your plate even if you’re served mystery meat with who-knows-what on the side, I would gather she simply prayed a silent prayer over her meal asking the Lord for protection and ate bite after bite with a smile on her face.
I’m sure ya’ll are just lining up to come over for dinner now, aren’t ya? Well, I happened to make a meal last night that was cooked through as it should be…and I played around with the ingredients to make it (sorta) my own…and it turned out well! If I haven’t totally scared you away from my ‘foodie’ posts because of my latest cooking blunder, here’s the recipe. I was searching for something I could easily make with pork chops and came across one from Epicurious.com: Pork Chops with Mango and Pineapple Sauce. I didn’t have the mango, however, so I thought I could manage it with just the fresh pineapple I had (it calls for canned). After inspecting and tasting said pineapple, since it had been in the fridge for awhile, it was more than clear that the pineapple was a NO go. So Brennan and I thought through what I did have: apple juice and a bag of chopped mixed dried fruit. I made some substitutions and low and behold, it worked! I eliminated the cilantro and used ground cloves instead of the whole cloves it called for. Here’s my adaptation:
PORK CHOPS WITH MIXED FRUIT MEDLEY
Season both sides of pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Bring butter, apple juice, brown sugar, mustard, cloves, and a bit of salt and pepper to a boil in a heavy saucepan, stirring until butter is melted. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chops, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate as browned.
In remaining oil, cook onion over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add sauce and pork chops and simmer, uncovered, turning chops over once, cooking for 6 to 8 minutes…OR UNTIL COOKED ALL THE WAY THROUGH! <grin>
Serve with rice or couscous and a salad or green veggie of your choosing.
If you’re not a pork person, I believe this recipe would work really well with the other white meat. Again, just be sure it’s cooked all the way through so you and your guests don’t go cluckin’ about!
*Oh, in case you’re wondering, my friend didn’t get sick, thank the Lord! <grin>