Category Archives: Family

Pork chops, polenta, and a baking extravaganza

Ok, it’s been a while but there have been two days with good cooking-outcomes, as well as one total mess.

The mess first–I thought quesadillas would be a fast, good dinner one night, so I laid in tortillas, refried beans, sour cream and salsa, and figured I’d use up a bag of grated jack cheese in the fridge. Sadly the bag was nearly empty, and Ben said he thought he’d eat 3 quesadillas (they weren’t big); I figured I’d eat two. We had cheese for two in the bag, so we pulled everything out of the cheese drawer and sliced it up. One had provolone and scraps from some weird thing that had come in a food basket (not gouda, but covered in red wax, yellowish inside). One was two slices of cheddar plus scraps from food basket loaf of cheddar. Another was all the weird wax-cheese. I fried two and gave them to Ben, and then fried two more for myself, at which point Ben was totally full and I realized I could only eat one. So we had one uncooked (one of the shredded cheese good ones) and one extra cooked one, and we’d used up all our sandwich cheese for nothing. I really need to work on knowing how much we can eat and what exactly we have in the fridge.

On to successes:

Thursday night I cooked wild mushrooms, polenta, and grilled pork chops. I followed Bittman’s grilling instructions and rubbed the chops with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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And then Ben grilled them perfectly on our great little weber baby-q, a b-day present from my parents.

I sliced up all the mushrooms, then sautéed some garlic in olive oil before cooking the mushrooms.
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The polenta was only ok—I had a box of instant from a cake I’d made, so I used that. Easy, but the texture wasn’t great and it was too salty.

Everything came together nicely though. I piled the polenta high (it was stiff), laid the chop over it, spritzed that with lemon juice, and then put the mushrooms on top.

I fried the leftover polenta for lunch Friday, and sautéed a zucchini to fill out the leftover mushrooms.

Sunday my brother Tom came over for some home-style baking. We had bulla on the mind—they are a Swedish roll sort of like challah but with cardamom and a sweeter dough. We had trouble getting the dough to rise, and then overcompensated by not punching it down hard enough or rolling the strips of dough out enough before shaping the bulla. As a result the rolls’ texture is a bit off and they puffed up more than usual in the over, losing the distinctive knot shape they should have had. They taste good though! Next time I’ll up the cardamom so the flavor is stronger.

For dinner I made a Dutch Baby, or german oven pancake, which is something we had for Sunday Night Supper growing up. It’s an egg batter that puffs up in the oven, and we always eat it with maple syrup. Well, I’m not sure if it’s my oven or what, but it puffed like CRAZY around the edges, and stayed totally flat in the middle (which is typical, but this was more pronounced than usual). I think one edge must have been 8 inches tall when I first pulled it out of the over. Whee!

Tom demonstrates the massive height of our dutch baby:

Tom, by the way, is looking like a skinny lumberjack these days, especially in his new 10″ LL Bean boots:


It wasn’t a happy excuse to see people, but it really was great to visit with so much family in Detroit this weekend (for my grandfather’s memorial service).
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The cousins in attendance (Kate, Peter, Andrew, Sara) spent a long time hanging out on the lawn and chatting after we scattered the ashes and flowers in the lake. I can’t wait for the wedding, when we will all be gathered for a far happier reason…