Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Personal Post

Life has been busy in a good way. I make no apology for my absence, but life demanded a certain amount of attention that I could not divide with a blog and do both well. Coming very soon, there will be a great number more posts on a more frequent basis. Here are some of the reasons I've been away:

Reason 1. Just after the new year, my husband's amazing grandfather passed away. When I was a girl growing up, people didn't pass away or die, they just went to be with the Lord. That was the terminology my family and church culture taught me. We minimized our loss to recognize Heaven's gain. We miss him, but we believe that he is enjoying himself much more than he ever did while he occupied his body on this planet.

Reason 2. My daughter asked me at Thanksgiving {while making my very first dining chair slip covers} to *MAKE* her a dress for Christmas. Um. I haven't made a dress in thirty years. The last time I actually sewed a garment was about 16 years ago. It took a great deal of time to re acclimate and do the dress well. Instead of merely making her one, I made her two, just in case one was horrible. Guess what? One wasn't so great. Here's the one that took so much time. It was red velvet. It was worth every minute.
Well, shut my mouth. I did it! I prayed to my sewing wizard Grandma Jones {not that I think she could talk back or be channeled through my hands or anything} and held my breath for LONG periods of time as I stitched and pinned and fretted. One should really not hold one's breath for such things. Passing out is a dangerous thing to do with electric needles a flyin'. Surprisingly, the project was pulled off without wounds to myself or others. I call that success.

Reason 3. I've been sickly. A lot. We'll leave it at that.

Reason 4. My last child is entering kindergarten in August and time with him is irreplaceable. I have no doubt that spending the last month playing Harry Potter with him on the Playstation has absolutely been the right thing to do with my "spare" time.

Reason 5. I'm a genealogy addict. I've spent a HUGE amount of time putting together a hand transcribed family pedigree tree for my mom and sister. With the help of some diligent aunts, grandmothers and cousins, I was able to get a decent start, but from my father's line, I only knew my grandparents and aunt and uncle's names. Over the last five years, I've done enough work on that line to be able to trace our lineage back to some really remarkable people, some remarkably brutal, some remarkably smart, some remarkably royal. I've been toying with adding a page to this blog just for genealogy stories and photos I stumble upon as I research. It's a great hobby. It's liberating to know from whence one has originated.

I'm looking forward to a family visit very soon. I wish you all peace and much joy until the next time. {If you're not in a peaceful and joyful place, know that you are not alone and you are loved, but mostly, know that it's a season that will pass. Keep persevering!}

Sunday, January 1, 2012

For My Farmboy...

There are several things that I only cook for my husband, and the following recipe is one of them. His mother is one of the coolest people I've ever known and gave me a fantastic family cookbook for our wedding (among many other things) with short stories about who the recipe came from, complete with photos. It has turned into the gift I will give each of my kids as they marry. It's pretty special and I use it all of the time. This particular recipe is heavily influenced by a recipe of hers.  Thanks, Mom! You're a genius.
I realize that some people shudder to use butter or cream or pork. I normally don't cook pork or heavy foods, but for a weekend with manual labor involved, the calories burn much faster. Be brave. Every once in a while, indulge. Perhaps eat salad plate portions instead. This recipe is a keeper.

2 large shallots
1 pint button mushrooms
2 boxes Uncle Ben's original wild rice
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans milk or half & half
3-6 pork chops (I used bone in, medium thickness chops this time.)
1 stick unsalted butter (You won't go to hell for it. I promise.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper

First, I chop the shallots very small and try not to cry. Next, I dice the mushrooms. I use actual, real butter and organic ingredients. The flavor is most robust this way. I saute the shallots on medium heat in 2 tbspn. butter until they are almost carmelized, just past the translucent phase when they begin to brown. I saute the mushrooms in 3 tbspns. butter until they are softened, but not until they are golden, as I don't want them to be mushy in the rice, but firm and flavorful.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, mix one can of cream of mushroom soup in a medium mixing bowl with one can of half & half until it is well blended. Dump seasoning packets and wild rice into the creamy soup mix. Spoon shallots and mushrooms into the rice/soup mix. Stir until it incorporates well.
Pour into a 9X13 inch baking pan. Cook your pork chops on medium to medium high heat. Season your chops with salt and pepper {optional: rub with minced garlic, then salt & pepper} generously on both sides. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into your pan. For this meal, I use cast iron. Cook the chops for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. They should be slightly seared and golden when you flip them.
Once they are seared, move them over to the baking dish. Mix the remaining soup can with a can of milk and pour it into the skillet on low heat, scraping the bits of mushroom, shallot and pork chop off the bottom. {This is called deglazing the pan.} Once the pan is deglazed and the sauce is mixed well, pour the mixture over the pork chops in the baking dish and cover it with foil.
before baking
Pop it in the oven for 45 minutes and prepare yourself for an old fashioned hearty meal. When you have about 15 minutes left on the timer, make a salad or some green beans or asparagus. You'll want something green to eat as a side with this meal. It will make you feel slightly less guilty for the stick of butter we used. Really, it will.
after baking