Don’t Rush a Pig

 

Pork chops were on sale, so even though I didn’t have meat on my grocery list, I brought a package home with me.  Since there were six huge chops I separated them into zipper-seal bags and put them into the freezer. One morning I left two of the pork chops in the refrigerator so that they would thaw in time for dinner. A few recipes claim that you can prepare tasty pork chops in just ten minutes with only salt and pepper for seasoning, so I decided to see if it would work.

However, when my husband emailed me to see if he could help get anything ready for our evening meal, I googled to see if there were any interesting marinades. Ideas for “Summer pork” included fruity combinations as well as mustard-soy-worchestershire mixtures.  Joel mixed together the ingredients in a list that I emailed to him and when I got home from the office the pork had been absorbing the flavors for about an hour.  All I had to do was heat our stove-top griddle and throw the chops on.

Maybe I wasn’t patient enough. The pork chop did not want to let go of the griddle after cooking for five minutes on one side. I put a cover over the meat to see if capturing some moisture would help it release; no luck.  Eventually, I was able to force the pork chop off and flip it over, but when we cut into our pieces the flavor had not penetrated the meat. Also, it took several days of soaking and scrubbing to get the bits of burnt-on pork off my griddle.

Pork chops take two.

The next weekend, our grocery store’s flyer was advertising their “buy theirs get ours free” offer. One of the items was barbeque sauce. If you purchased a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce they would give you a bottle of the grocery store brand for free. They hoped that you would compare the two and notice that their version was just as good as the “real” name brand product.  Sweet Baby Ray’s has quite a few interesting-sounding flavors to choose from, but I stuck with the classic regular one.

At first, I thought that I would just throw the rest of my frozen pork chops into the crockpot and let them cook until they were tender enough to shred for pulled pork sandwiches. I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to put the barbeque sauce in the whole time you were cooking the meat or if you were to wait and just mix it in at the end. So, I looked it up.

While looking, I ran across a recipe that cooked potatoes along with the meat. Cooking two-thirds of your meal in one slow cooker sounded like a good idea to me. The author(ess) suggested greasing the inside of the crockpot and layering sliced potatoes, sliced onion, pork chops and bacon. Barbecue sauce goes between the layers. You let these ingredients cook on the high setting for 4 hours. Then you are to add cheese for the last 10 minutes. I decided to keep things simple and leave out the bacon and cheese.

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The moisture from the pork drops to the bottom of the slow cooker, mixes with the barbeque sauce, and boils the potatoes. The liquid was a bit runny after the first 4 hours of cooking. But we didn’t eat it until the next day, and when I reheated the mixture it had thickened enough that I didn’t need to add any roux or cornstarch.  A bag of steamed peas added some color to the plate.

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We enjoyed the meal, but next time I might let the meat cook a bit longer, because I like fall-off-the-bone tender pork.

Categories: Food and drink, Pork, Potato, sauces & condiments | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

See, You Know Plenty of German

German restaurants can be fun. German food can be tasty.  Although we’ve not made it to the European continent, we have sampled “authentic” German food at restaurants in several cities here in the U.S.A.

A musician with an accordion serenaded us when friends treated us to a farewell dinner in the Twin Cities.

Gasthof Zur Gemutlichkeit

Bill Koncar, the cop by day & strolling accordian player by night

When we lived in Columbus, Ohio, we tried the lunch buffet as well as dinner at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus.

Schmidt’s

Juergens, where we ordered bakery treats and (not-so-great) coffee, was also in Columbus’ German Village neighborhood.

Juergens

In New York City, we stumbled upon Hallo Berlin, where they had a satisfying $10 lunch special.

NYC Hallo Berlin Lunch Special

North of Philadelphia, some people think that Otto’s is a great place to eat, but we prefer to drive into the city for sausages. We enjoyed the currywurst at Reading Terminal Market, then tried lunch at Brauhaus Schmitz restaurant on South Street.

Wurst Platter: PFEFFERBEISSER and KÄSEWURST with sauerkraut and potato salad

 

Usually, an entree at any American restaurant is more than enough for me. Even when I think I might have room for dessert, the price tag reminds me that I have cookbooks and ingredients at home.  This past weekend, the weather cooled down a bit after a few days of 90-degree temperatures, so I baked and boiled to try a few recipies from The Best of My Grandmother’s German Cookery.

If I’d paid more attention to the boiling eggs and potatoes, the Kartoffelsalat would have had a better texture. My dash of salt could have been a bit stronger, too.

The Apfeltorte was pretty straight out of the oven, but the flavor and moistness improved after 2 days under glass.

Apple Flan Cake

 

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Categories: Food and drink, German food, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Highway Fare: Lansing, IL

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Road trips often include hours in which you are stuck sitting in traffic. We flew to Chicago several weeks ago and rented a car. It wasn’t necessarily suprising to us that we got stuck in traffic between O’Hare and downtown Chicago. Nevertheless, I started to look at the signs for restaurants and wondered if it wouldn’t be a good idea to get off, find something to eat, and wait for some of the traffic to clear. When you aren’t from the area, finding a neighborhood where you will feel safe stopping can be tricky, though.  We didn’t end up stopping in Chicago.

Our travel was booked through Priceline. We got a good deal but, as they say, you get what you pay for. The neighborhood architecture was far from charming: it looked like the building across the street was a recently-closed Kmart. Our Red Roof Inn did not offer anything more than coffee for breakfast, but IHOP was right next door.

We stayed for a few days, so we tried a couple of  non-chain restaurants.  Two you might try if you find yourself near Lansing, IL:

Round the Clock Restaurant:

“Lunch”  includes everything (soup or salad + rolls + entree + choice of side + dessert), and they are in generous portion sizes. I chose the gyro with sweet potato fries + salad. When the waitress came to tell us that dessert was also included, I had her box up a piece of cheesecake.

Saturday’s special was 4 for $4. We each knew, just looking at the menu, that 1 thing from each of the 4 categories was going to add up to too much, but economically it made sense to order the special rather than a regular entree or a la carte.

Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop:

I especially liked the decor. They have different-styled seating areas to suit your purpose. It was nice to have cajun food as an option.

 

 

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Categories: Breakfast, Dessert, Desserts, Food and drink, Restaurants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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