Pork chops, redux, and the perils of cooking hungry

Last night it was 3 years since the day Ben proposed (aww!) and I vowed I would actually cook, since that has happened all too infrequently lately. Ben requested another round of crispy pork cutlets, and this time I was able to find the prescribed boneless pork loin chops, so I gave them another go. I also got snow peas and eggplant, thinking I’d make some slightly asian-inspired side dishes for a change of pace. Since I apparently only find recipes on the Everyday Food site lately, I searched for side dishes and scrolled down until I found a recipe for Spicy Sesame Eggplant.

Now, a factoid about me: My blood sugar sometimes bottoms out, and when it does I am a shaky, cranky wreck. It happens suddenly and what I have to do is eat some protein, as soon as possible, and then go on with my day. Last night I was starving before I even started dinner. I had a tiny sandwich for lunch and resisted snacking all afternoon, but then I didn’t start dinner until…I don’t know, 7:30? I was ravenous. And I had lots of big ideas about baking dessert while cooking dinner, etc. Anyway, Ben got home and mixed me a gin & tonic (good plan!) and I ate a couple potato chips but those didn’t help, and as the evening progressed I was absent-minded and very clumsy, to the point where Ben asked if I should leave the kitchen before breaking something or hurting myself.

So, the eggplant. Super easy. You cut up an eggplant into nice 3/4 inch thick logs, toss them in salt and pepper and then in a sauce made of lime juice, veg. oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds and some garlic-chili paste. Broil. La! Easy as pie! (Aside from the part where one of those tricky thorns on the eggplant top stabbed my finger and is still hanging out in there.) And look how pretty everything looks!

Pretty red sauce:

Artful eggplant slicing:

Nicely splotchy eggplant spears:

Horribly scorched eggplant shards:

…oops. So here’s what happened. I put the eggplant under our broiler on the top shelf, and a couple minutes later smelled scorching and moved them down to the middle. They were a little dark but ok. Did I take the pan out and flip the pieces over? Silly rabbit, of course not! I was busy creaming butter for cookies! 10 minutes later the timer rang and Ben asked if I’d heard it and I said “Yes, I’m going to leave them another minute” and then continued with whatever I was doing and about 8 minutes later I remembered the eggplant. Sigh. They actually turned out to be pretty tasty–if leathery-skinned (yum)–but Ben opted out and I ate the leftovers for lunch today.

Then I oiled the panko crumbs for the pork chops and tossed those in the oven. Didn’t set a timer. Remembered them just before they blackened–they were a VERY healthy tan, more like a heavy Mystic Tan than the result of a nice afternoon at the beach. Brown, really. Dark brown. Then I dropped the mixer bowl, which is when Ben asked if I needed to step away for a minute. I declined.

The rest of dinner went off without a hitch, luckily. I managed not to cook the chops to death. And prepping them was made much easier by having Ben on hand (I think he might have been babysitting me) to apply salt and pepper so I didn’t have to keep washing my hands between flipping them over. I sautéed the snow peas in a little vegetable oil, then tossed them with sesame oil, salt and pepper and they were very tasty. Still, I’m mad that I burned things. I almost never burn things, thanks to my crazy sense of smell. The usual exception is when I’m toasting walnuts in the toaster oven. Scorch City. In this case my nose failed me because there was already a scorching-eggplant stench from the too-close-to-the-broiler incident. Boo.

But this looks pretty good, right?

And I’ll post dessert later.

(Any less-putrid-than-usual lighting in the photos can be attributed to my use of the mini lightbox my uncle gave me for Christmas. It’s a little awkward to set up anywhere near my kitchen so I haven’t been using it, but last night I thought I’d add one more complication for my shaky hands and woozy head to deal with and set it up in the butler’s pantry. Fun!)

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