Cooking from Memories

pork tomatillo stew

Memoir is an interesting genre. The work is autobiographical, but the author chooses to emphasize a specific theme and/or focus on a shorter period of their life rather than telling their whole story. I enjoy reading memoirs and biographies, because I can learn about worlds that are completely different than mine without leaving earth. Sometimes I am tempted to covet their wealth and opportunity.  At other times the character’s struggle and despair are such that I am reminded to be thankful for the eternal hope that I have.

One of my favorite popular authors is Ruth Reichl. When she shares stories from her past you can feel along with her. When she describes the aromas, flavors, and textures of an amazing meal you are as satisfied as if you had been sitting at the table with her.

Recipes are sprinkled through Reichl’s books. This morning I took inventory of the ones that are included in Tender at the Bone.  A stew made from pork and tomatillos was especially interesting to me, because the bag of tomatillos from Produce Junction was larger than I had needed for a large batch of green sauce.

Ruth instructs the cook to prepare the stew on the stovetop. However, my Saturday plans wouldn’t allow me to babysit a simmering stew for two hours. Instead, after browning the pork and sauteeing the garlic and onions, I tossed everything into a crockpot.

Four hours later, we were home and ready for supper. My husband said the “juice” was good, but he isn’t so sure about the beans being included. I can’t say that the stew was amazing, but I can’t say that it is the recipe’s fault, either. When I cut the recipe in half some of the ratios didn’t quite match.   Also, I don’t keep “dark beer” on hand, so my blackstrap molasses substitute certainly affected the flavor.


Categories: Books, Food and drink, Pork, stew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken Chorizo Stew with Potatoes and Capers

A large box arrived yesterday afternoon. Williams & Sonoma had offered free shipping and a 20% discount in addition to already reduced prices, so I decided to order a heat-resistant, silicone spatula that has been on my wish list for some time.  The size of the box did not correspond with the size of the spatula. Maybe they just wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t get lost in the mail, so they included a lot of bubble wrap with a coupon and their latest catalog.

They advertized brightly-colored linens and plates of a “Spanish style”.  Another page showed a photograph of two shiny, filled paella pans  –one with lobster and the other with a variety of shellfish. I skimmed the rest of the pages of beautiful, expensive, and unnecessary kitchen goods, and only tore out one page to keep.

Chicken and Chorizo Stew was dressed in a Dutch Oven that you could purchase in your choice from a variety of colors. The price wasn’t tempting, but the recipe was. Not all of the ingredients were in my kitchen, but what I had was close enough.


2 fresh tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce were substituted for the large can of plum tomatoes. Dried oregano for fresh, and capers for the green olives.



After browning the meat and sauteeing the onions and garlic, I deglazed the pan with the white wine and reduced the liquid to 1/3 cup.  Then, everything went back into the pan, along with 4 cups of chicken broth, to boil, then simmer for 45 minutes.


I was afraid that the potatoes would turn to mush, but they were still quite firm, and rather waxy, when we tried the new stew (reheated) this evening. The colors make a nice presentation, and the flavors and textures are acceptable. Not too exciting, though.


Categories: Chicken, Food and drink, hungarian paprika, Meat, Pork, Potato, Soup, stew | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


A bowl of hearty beef stew seemed just the thing last week; I was still weak, recovering from a mosquito-borne virus that I caught in the Dominican Republic, so my husband suggested that we go to Mozart’s for lunch. When the waiter brought the bowls to our table, I thought that the presentation was beautiful. However, the chunks of beef and potato were large. I almost wanted to use my knife and fork instead of a spoon. Also, it seemed like they increased the amount of paprika in the recipe from the first time I tried the restaurant’s goulash.

The experience didn’t ruin my opinion of goulash, though. This week I cubed some beef and coated it with paprika and salt before browning it in a skillet with bacon fat. I had purchased a pound of Tyson bacon. Through the plastic windows on the packaging I saw a lot of meat, but when I opened it at home, it turned out that 2/3 of the product was fat. Instead of throwing out the fat, I rolled up the white slices and froze them to use for flavoring in the future. I also sauteed onion, cubanelle pepper and garlic in the bacon fat, before putting this in a mini crockpot with the remaining ingredients (white wine, chicken stock, tomato sauce, oregano…I can’t seem to find the internet recipe that I sort of followed.).

After 2 hours, I boiled water to prepare some Spaetzle Egg Noodles (from Aldi). While the noodles were cooking, I cut some Brussels sprouts in half and sauteed them with butter. I also peeled and sliced some green apples and sauteed them with some cinnamon and sugar.

My goulash could have used a bit of roux to thicken the broth into a sauce, since I served it with noodles, but as a soup would have been fine.


Categories: bacon, beef, Brussels sprouts, Food and drink, German food, goulash, Herbs and Spices, hungarian paprika, Restaurants, spaetzel, stew | Leave a comment

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