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

Watermelon Water (Agua de Sandia)


What can I bring?

Celebrating a holiday is usually more fun when you get to spend it with other people.  One year we played Dutch Blitz after enjoying grilled hamburgers and potato salad at coworkers’ house. My boss explained that Italian salad dressing is the secret to his potato salad’s flavor. This year we’re heading north to eat with friends from church. Blueberry picking and tour of the chicken coup may be part of the fun.  When I asked what we could bring, they suggested watermelon.

Since I had the afternoon free, I decided to dig out my X-ACTO knife and carve something into the rind. This makes it difficult to empty the watermelon of its fruit. I needed to preserve a container without cutting through the design. So I sliced a quarter of the melon out, then cut the dark pink part into cubes.

After sorting out the pretty pieces, there were still a lot of rough pieces and not all of the fruit was very pink. Rather than throw it out with the garbage, I put it in the blender and saved it in a pitcher. Ta da! Watermelon might not be the first fruit you think of when you ask for juice, but it can work. img_0337.jpg

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Supermarket Sale Summer Salad


It’s as hot as July! So, baking and boiling is not encouraged in our small apartment. Thankfully, the supermarket closest to our apartment had cherries and grilled chicken on sale, so I just needed to shred and chop the ingredients and combine them with a bit of mayonnaise. One may end up with red hands stained with cherry juice, but I prefer that over a red face caused by spending too much time in a humid kitchen on a summer afternoon.

First, I prepared a salad with craisins, white onion, and parsley. The second batch had cherries and green onions. You could add slivered almonds or chopped walnuts, but I’m planning to use these for sandwiches.


1 1/2 c shredded and chopped grilled chicken

1 small onion, chopped

1/4 c craisins, chopped

1/2 to 1 c mayonnaise

to taste parsley, salt & pepper




2 c shredded and chopped cooked chicken

3 green onions, chopped

handful fresh cherries: stemmed, pitted and chopped

1 T lemon juice

1/2 to 1 c mayonnaise

to taste, salt & pepper




Categories: Chicken, Food and drink, Salad, Sandwiches | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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