26 August 2008

Pork chops with tomato and onion "stuff"

So I know I'm supposed to have sophisticated terms for cooking, and I know I should have "tags" for sides and main dishes I cook, but I just can't get used to calling anything "compote" or "salsa," knowing full well I mean "stuff that covers the meat" or some other configuration of that phrase. I also realize that my students now have access to this blog, meaning I must come up with other words for compote or salsa that do not involve "s" words....
Tonight was a great one, albeit one laden with computer flubs and strange flickers from the blue-screen-of death-beyond. In honor of the great first week of school I have had thus far, I made pork chops.
I know what you're thinking. Why pork chops as a celebration? Especially if you bought said pork chops at WinCo, where most meat is full of fat and very cheap. Well.....I have a fondness for pork chops. It's a comfort food, and I had a recipe burning under my cooking apron for many days.
In the above picture: pork chops and tomato-onion-basil "stuff," whole grain mustard glazed potatoes, and 'Romano' Italian broad green beans from the ever awesome Moscow Farmer's Market.
Pork Chops with Tomato-Onion "Stuff"
4 pork chops, preferably a little thicker than a deck of cards
2 tbl. olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 heirloom tomatoes, diced
4 tbl. fresh chopped basil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbl. balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
1. Season pork chops with salt and pepper (pork should be at room temperature). Heat 1 1/2 tbl. oil in a skillet and add onion; cook until tender and transfer to a plate. Add pork with remaining oil and cook until.....well, cooked. Remove and transfer to a plate.
2. Return onions to skillet. Add tomatoes, basil and garlic, cooking until tomatoes are tender. Add balsamic vinegar and stir through. Remove from heat. Add tomato-onion-basil mixture to pork chops.
Mustard Glazed Roasted Potatoes
4 red potatoes, diced
1 tbl. olive oil
2 tbl. whole grain mustard
Salt and Pepper
2 tbl. Italian parsley, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil and whole grain mustard, and place in casserole dish, adding salt and pepper to desired proportions.
2. Bake potatoes for 30 minutes, or until tender. Note: I cover my potatoes for thirty minutes and then return them to the oven uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and add Italian parsley. Toss to coat.

21 August 2008

Technical Difficulties

Stupid computers. I've never been too computer savvy (I still call those little sticks that replaced the floppy disk "magic sticks" and I got a D--the only one I might add--in computers when I was in college) but our laptop has gone crazy with adware and spyware (is there a difference between the two??) so I'll be offline for a few more days until we can completely fix the problem. Once we do, I suppose it won't matter because I'm buying a new laptop in a few days!! Yay for new stuff!!

16 August 2008

Moscow Farmers Market or, why Moscow is way cooler than Pullman

There are a million reasons why I prefer Moscow to Pullman, the first of which is the eclectic mix of people in Moscow. While most of Idaho looks pretty much the same all over citizen-wise, Moscow is full of artsy folk and hippies that make the farmer's market a great place to people watch. This week square dancing, next week a live jazzy band. Just one street over are year-round produce stands, sustainable living stores, precious gem shops and fair trade coffeehouses. Just two blocks over is Moscow Co-Op, otherwise known as the only place I've found on the Palouse that sells Fage and other culinary treats. Right next to the square dancing people? One of the best French restaurants I have ever experienced (barring the places I've eaten at that were actually in France of course).

Pullman couldn't possibly compete with the awesomeness of Moscow, and so I find that I'm drawn to Moscow on weekends and during my free time. I'm not much of a hippie (unless hippies wear crimson lipstick, heels and pantyhose) but I feel more at ease there. If I could, I'd live in Moscow, but my state funded teaching assistantship prevents me from residing there....

One of the stands I love. They had some awesome tomatoes and I couldn't stop eyeing the beets despite the fact that I'm not much of a beet fan.

Only $18 dollars later I stocked up for a week of fantastic feasting. Clockwise from the red tomatoes are corno di toro peppers, 'Romano' Italian broad green beans, yellow tomatoes and blue potatoes. More loot/porn below.

One of my favorite breads, the Miche at Artisan Panhandle Bread (no website that I could find) is awesome and makes an artful presentation. Good thing I stocked up on olive oil!

Beautiful and aromatic Thai lemon basil and green peppers

15 August 2008

Link it

Check out this hilarious post on Grocery Guy's blog. I laughed out loud for about five minutes after reading this, perhaps because I am one of those annoying liberal arts people he speaks of, and perhaps because I thought the exact same thing the first time (and every time thereafter) I attended a social event in Pullman and saw the "diverse" community here.

14 August 2008

Clean out the fridge quiche

I didn't get a chance to blog this before our vacation, but I ran into somewhat of a time crunch once I realized I had no idea where I had packed away our luggage. With almost every major airline charging for the first checked bag, I had to make sure I could find the perfect carry-on suitcase out of the sea of broken-zippered, ripped fabric contraptions I have somehow never thrown out.

I also was faced with the perennial conundrum: how to eat everything in my fridge so as not to have to throw it all away. In the past, I've come home to curdled cream, moldy bread and all kinds of disgusting, and quiche seemed like the perfect way to use up all those eggs.

Since it's a hodgepodge of ingredients thrown together all at once, I don't really have a recipe (unless of course, you find yourself in the situation where you have precisely the same quantities of food in your fridge as I did at that moment). I did, however, blanch the veggies before including them in the pies and I used a mixture of eggs (only four in two pies!!) and fat free half-n-half (usually reserved for my morning coffee) as the basis for the meal.

In the process of this pre-vacation fridge ritual, I was quite pleased with my waste-not-want-not skills over the last few months. It only took one meal to clean out the perishables, and the only items left were those that withstand the test of time (butter or Romano cheese anyone?) I come from hearty eating stock in the Midwest, and when I saw my mother's fridge it reminded me how much I used to waste. Two open bottles of olive tapenade, really old leftovers, a variety of cheeses that weren't consumed at a steady rate the whole time I was there, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables that had seen better days...I knew I got this hoarding behavior somewhere. When I stocked the entire kitchen to the brim, I was always confounded by a sense of anxiety once dinner rolled around. What to eat??!! Just as looming a question as how to eat the entire contents of one's fridge, I would inevitably pick a few ingredients and then proceed to eat an unsatisfying meal.

But ahoy! I have reformed my anxious ways and learned to plan my meals on Sunday mornings with a cup of coffee, curled up on the couch with my dogs and cat. I've come to cherish those quiet mornings and to really relish the effectiveness of planning. Only once in a great while do I find myself in need of a grocery run midweek, and it's really saving me some much needed grad student dough. Driving to Moscow (7 miles) once a week pays. As a point of reference, I bought lettuce in Moscow for 49 cents while it was 79 cents in Pullman. Imagine the price gap between more substantial purchases and you've got a lot of money that I can put toward paying off my damn car (sigh.).

Thrifty shopping aside, I tip my hat to the criminal genius who convinced me to sign my auto loan when I was in college. Damn car.

11 August 2008

One long Chicago hiatus....

I've been on a kind of hiatus from blogging. It's just as well since I've been gathering "research" for further food blogging. I don't think I have ever been so happy to be home in my entire life. After deboarding the plane from Minneapolis to Midway, I started galloping around the airport like a toddler, and then promptly forced husband to eat anything and everything unhealthy and tasty we could possibly consume. So what did we eat? My old standbys, or foods that I can't possibly find on the boring west coast. Harold's Chicken Shack? Check. Capri Restaurant where even the mob give their blessing? Absolutely. Bucho's Mexican, where the Lalo's name still rules? Consumed. Portillo's, home of the world famous dipped Italian beef? Hell yes. And the list goes on.....

On the plane to Chicago, I prayed for a good thunderstorm, and I have to admit I was a bit blown away by the tornado/microburst that we were caught in during the Cubs game. I'll post about the craziness later. Suffice to say my thunderstorm craving has been met.

Now that I'm back in Pullman, I am suddenly consumed by an overwhelming sadness. I have never been so homesick in my life. Above are a few pictures that remind me....I don't have to live here in the middle of nowhere forever. I always have a home.