March is proving to be a little chillier than I had anticipated. I am not running around sweater-less. At least we seem to have left the snow behind. And now is the time when I remember my father’s mutterings about the great April blizzard of 1888. Not that he had been born yet, but he loved to inject a little niggling doubt in our minds, that maybe spring wasn’t really on its way. No one ever writes about the day of great sunshine and warm zephyrs gently tossing the new bright green leaves on the oak trees. I come from a long line of gloomy New Englanders.
I do not see snow in the forecast, though there is rain. It seems to be warming up enough to take a walk in the garden, and look for snowdrops and crocus shoots. And while I stack a few fallen branches and peer anxiously in the leaf piles under the yet-to-bloom flowering quince, I must return to thinking about dinner.
We have used up the vat o’spaghetti sauce that Mr. Friday had prepared long ago in January. It served us well, through the original meal of spaghetti, through the homemade pasta experiments, through baked ziti, chicken parm and an interesting rigatoni R and D. My dinner insurance policy has expired, and now I have to pony up a meal that would charm, delight and fill. But I wanted one that would not involve a trip to the grocery store.
Luckily, Mr. Friday was in an Asian food mood this past weekend. In addition to his version of General Tso’s chicken, he wanted to prepare stir-fried rice. His recipe called for a handful of diced pork. And so he bought a package of three pork chops, instead of sidling up to the fellow behind the meat counter, and asking for a singleton pork chop. Lucky me! There were two plump pork chops sitting in the freezer, just begging to be cooked for our mid-week-not-spaghetti dinner.
I’m pretty sure all my mother ever did with pork chops was toss them into a Pyrex baking dish and let the oven take over. (She did not believe in exotic convenience foods like Shake N’Bake.) She included a side dish of homemade coleslaw and a bowl of apple sauce, adding a simple flourish of cinnamon. And now you see the stodgy New England side: no fuss, no muss, and a lot of banausic, colorless food. Surely we have advanced a little here in the twenty-first century?
Food52 has a spicy, colorful paprika inspired pork chop recipe: https://food52.com/recipes/819-paprika-pork-chop
Mark Bittman, never one to fuss, has a sautéed pork chop recipe: http://www.howtocookeverything.com/recipes/sauteed-pork-chops
Of course, Martha has a complicated variation on my mother’s applesauce: https://www.marthastewart.com/341389/pork-chops-with-apple-raisin-relish
Bon Appétit has the answer for everyone: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/pork-chop-recipes
Possible side dishes:
Baked sweet potato fries: https://www.purewow.com/recipes/Baked-Sweet-Potato-Fries
Cranberry Apple Salad https://www.floatingkitchen.net/cranberry-apple-salad/
I opted to bake the pork chops, after browning them lightly in a pan. We also had scalloped potatoes, applesauce, a green salad and some delicious cheap white wine. And candles. It wasn’t spaghetti, and it wasn’t bland. We are ready to greet spring.
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin