Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Challenge: Meanwhile, back at the Farmhouse

The second night of my challenge was successful! The cookbook I used is very inspiring!  It takes me back...as it might you.  To a more simple time.  Tonight I cooked from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook!  What I love about this cookbook is that it tells stories...and has photos of the old farmhouse that she lived in.  The stories that it tells have actual character and suspense.  It tells stories of a time when they had to live on rations.  It tells stories of God's provision beyond those rations.....and the food tells a story too!! 

The food tells a story of simplicity; something I can't help but think we are missing in our society and our constant need to go and to do....one of the reasons that Laura and her husband Almanzo were able to survive on the rations was because much of their food was grown themselves.  Fruits and vegetables were planted and tended by their hands.  Often times we don't even know that someone is involved in the process of getting that lettuce into a bag for us to conveniently pick up at the store....or that someone picked that orange from a tree.  The amount of appreciation they had for the simplicity of the true taste of their food is something worth seeking out. 

I chose a simple recipe to achieve that: simplicity in my own life!!!  This recipe is word for word from the book, I didn't change a thing, except, I only cooked two pork chops. 

Golden Pork Chops
Cooking Pork chops in milk gives them a rich, buttery texture.  
4 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick
salt and pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup cracker crumbs, more or less
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups milk, more or less

1.  Season pork chops with salt and pepper and dip in egg to moisten all over.  Coat with cracker crumbs.  
2.  Preheat oven to 350
3.  Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet.  Add the pork chops and brown slowly.  
They browned beautifully

When Golden,  Add milk to almost cover meat and place in oven.  

 Crazy things happen in this step.....bubbles, it's gorgeous!

Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning meat once or twice until milk is almost cooked away.  

  I don't know if you can see in this pic...but beautiful things happen to this in the oven....the milk engulfs the pork and is so decadent!  It's like a down comforter....soft, warm, buttery.  Sorry, that's all I got at this hour!  

4.  Serve immediately, spooning any remaining juices over meat.  

Ok, so maybe I changed one thing.....with my remaining juices, I made a gravy...why.... because I served this with mashed potatoes....and I like gravy on my mashed potatoes!!!  Mashed potatoes and peas!  I wish I could say that they came from my garden....but let's be honest there is like 10-15 inches of snow predicted for tonight.....and I live in an apartment.  But, someday Laura Ingalls Wilder, I too will grow my food!!!  

I stopped in Peppin WI at the Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibit in 2009 with my parents.  
 Mom and I in front of their tiny cabin

What a joy it was to see the simple means where Laura spent some of her days, this kind of thing inspires me, despite my small affection for some technologies, I feel we miss out on something FAR MORE important in life.  

I leave you with this poem, written by Laura about dinner.  I would suggest to you: take Dinner seriously.  NOT just the food, but the people around your table.  

Over the fence to the farmhouse, 
With laughter and repartee gay, 
It's almost time to be eating again
And we're rather too far away.  
There's Chicken and Dumplings for dinner, 
with salads and vegetables fine
And fruits just fresh from the orchard
Oh who wouldn't love to dine!  
Over the fence to the farmhouse, 
We're afraid they will not wait
And with Chicken and Dumplings for dinner
'Twould never do to be late.  
-Laura Ingalls Wilder


Monday, February 27, 2012

The Challenge: MIGAS

The challenge came while I was enjoying the first part of the Pizza Ranch Buffet with my mother.  You simply can't enjoy the second half of your time at a buffet, because all you are doing then is trying to get your money's worth...and sneaking to the bathroom to loosen the belt buckle. 

Anywho, I told momma that I had already per-ordered a cookbook that won't come out until March.  She gasped and said "but, you don't even use your cookbooks."  hmmm....sounds like a challenge to me.  I adore time spent in the kitchen....especially when dinner comes out nicely.  However, when dinner comes out nicely, momma will say "We should have this once a week."  There are about 28 dishes that she would enjoy having once a week.  But, I must satisfy my desire to experience new processes, and my tongue craves a new taste! 

The internet provides a plethora of avenues to find something new to make.....you can make something new everyday if you'd like.  However, I have been blessed with some pretty sweet cookbooks....and feel as though I have slightly abandoned them recently. 

This week I will ONLY cook from my books!!  No pinterest, no blog recipes, just me and the old school!! 

And I will share with you.....so you can taste and see that it is good!!! 

Tonight I made a recipe from the pioneer woman's cookbook.  Love her style, love her food, sometimes covet her life, I mean....have you seen her kitchen(s)..... yeah

 (pay no attention to the internet recipes behind the book)

 (MIGAS for two....and fresh oranges!!!)

I made MIGAS....which is an exciting southwestern scrambled egg dish!!  Of course, I made a few changes to accommodate me and momma!!  This is half the recipe (because there are only two of us)

(inspired from The Pioneer Woman)
1 medium onion (I used 4 green onions)
1 red bell pepper (I didn't have this)
1 green bell pepper 
2 tomatoes (I used a handful of grape tomatoes)
Jalepeno (I didn't have this)
5 large eggs
1/4 cup half n half (I used sour cream...see below)
salt and pepper
2 corn tortillas 
canola oil
olive oil
1 cup cheese (I used cheddar) 
I added half a pound of Pork Sausage!!!

I started by frying my sausage.  The original recipe doesn't call for meat....which makes me think of a scene from my favorite movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding  Where she tells her Greek aunt that her new Fiance is a vegetarian....."What you mean he no eat no meat, that's ok, I make him lamb!"  Yeah...watch it.  So, I had to have me some meat!  

Set that aside and chop your pepper, onions, and tomatoes.  (and jalepeno if you didn't forget to pick one up) After chopping, put your eggs in a bowl and whisk, add salt and pepper  This is where I add sour cream (a dollop, if you will).  This is a Paula Deen Secret.  Yes...Sour cream makes the best scrambled eggs!!  Very light and fluffy!  

Next, in the same meat frying pan, add a little canola oil and fry up these corn tortillas.....what a fun texture and taste they add to the dish!!  Set them on a paper towel to soak up grease.   Chop them length wise and cross wise, into bite sized chunks.  Set aside

In the same pan, cook the onions and peppers in olive oil and butter I also added a touch of garlic and salt here) over medium high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook one minute.  Throw in the tortillas (and meat if you roll like me).  

Reduce the heat to low.  once the skillet cools slightly, add the egg mixture.  With a spatula, you will fold the mixture, so it doesn't get all freaky...don't stir.  Once the eggs are cooked, throw on the cheese and cilantro.  You can top with sour cream, which I forgot....but adding any source of cream to anything is a good habit to be in!  

This was "momma approved"!!!  -- That's a big deal in my house, she is my toughest critique. 
I'm super excited about this challenge!  I'm excited about the other cookbooks that I will be using...they all have such a different flare.... but, hold a special place in my heart...and my kitchen!!!  

Love to you all, mi amigos'.... tune in tomorrow for more yumminess!!!