Kitchen, packing frenzy

October 8, 2010

Unpack. Do laundry. Repack. Cook for the kids. Prepare to get up at the butt-crack of dawn to head for the airport.

Yep. It’s October. October is travel month. I can always count on October to send me on a couple of lengthy trips, albeit always to a couple of damn nice resorts. Might as well have a little fun with your bidness, I guess.

Obligatory travel photo -- the Allegheny Mountains in west-central Virginia.

This was typical of the scenery this past week. Some gorgeous, gorgeous mountains and valleys. Loved driving around. Loved the picturesque little villages. Loved playing “where does this road go?” with my boss, who has a sense of adventure not unlike my own.

It’ll be browner next week. I head out tomorrow for a week in Arizona. Which means I have spent tonight cooking and in general preparing both myself for the trip and my kids so they will not starve while I’m gone.

They have a six-quart stockpot full of chili. They have a six-quart crock-pot full of bean and sausage soup. They have pork chops, they have hot dogs, they have frozen pizza, they have frozen fish fillets.  They won’t starve.

And they have leftover pork chops from dinner tonight, which were among the better pork chops I have ever cooked. I’d bought these a while back at Kroger when I found them on the “used meat” counter, marked down. Big boneless butterfly chops, at least an inch and a half thick. I un-butterflied them by going ahead and finishing slicing them down the middle, because half of one of those babies was going to be all anyone wanted or needed (I did not finish mine). Salted them, seared them in a hot-hot skillet, finished them in a 400-degree oven.

I served them up with the Jezebel sauce I was going to make a while back, except this was a tad different from usual Jezebel sauce. I took the pineapple preserves for the base, decided against adding the apricot preserves because, well, that would have been way too much sauce. Added the horseradish and dry mustard; heated, tasted. I’d gone a touch overboard with the horseradish (it was “extra hot Thai horseradish,” I noticed after I spooned a big glop in and stirred it up), so I added some brown sugar (it was closer than the honey). It wanted some salt, so I added a little sprinkle, and it was Pretty Damn Good. The proportions, nearly as I can recall them:

  • 1 18-oz jar pineapple preserves
  • 2 tbsp extra hot Thai horseradish (you may need to use more if you use regular horseradish)
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • a bare sprinkle of kosher salt

Heat over very low heat until it comes to a bare simmer. Taste and correct for seasonings.

I had mine with sweet potato latkes and English pea salad. For the latkes, cook the sweet potatos just a little; you want to be able to grate them and them still have some texture. I nuked two big potatos for about 8 minutes in my wussy little microwave. Peel and grate them as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, and stir in an egg and a little cream. Season with whatever strikes your fancy — tonight for me, it was some paprika and a little allspice and a sprinkle of cayenne. Fry in hot oil until golden on both sides, and drain on paper towels.

For the English pea salad, whip up an Asian dressing with mirin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, white pepper and soy sauce. No proportions here; I just used a glug of this and a glug of that. You want about equal parts mirin and rice vinegar, a whole lot less sesame oil and soy sauce, and a sprinkle of ginger and white pepper, if that helps. Cook a bag of frozen English peas in boiling water, for about two minutes after the water comes back to boil. Dump them in a colander and run cold water over them just long enough to cool them enough to stop the cooking; they don’t have to be chilled. Pour the dressing over, stir them once, and stick ’em in the fridge. You can scatter some sesame seeds if you feel fancy. I didn’t bother. It’s really good to crumble some ricotta salata or queso fresco on top, too.

And I made a HOT pot of chili. Child C won’t eat it, I am reasonably sure. It has almost three pounds of ground beef, three 15-oz cans of tomatos, and it’s seasoned with a BIG chipotle and adobo, about half-cup of chile paste, a whole bunch of chili powder, and a shake or two of hot sauce for good measure. Plus it has cumin and seasoned salt and onion and garlic and two cans of red beans. I thickened it with a little masa harina stirred into some water. It’s some powerfully good chili.

And I have to pack. You and y’mama ‘n ’em keep an eye on my kids while I’m gone.


One Response to “Kitchen, packing frenzy”

  1. Len Cleavelin Says:

    I’d bought these a while back at Kroger when I found them on the “used meat” counter, marked down.

    “Used meat”? Damn, what’s next? Recycled food, a la Stallone’s old “Judge Dredd” movie?

    The marked-down section of the meat counter. One of the kids, I forget which one, used to refer to it as the “used meat” section.

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