Eating History 2: Peach Glazed Pork Chops

In 2014 and 2015, I inherited recipes written by the women in my family, including my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Based on the dates they were alive, these recipes likely span from 1900-1985.  I’m making them by following the original instructions as closely as I can. This is my history.

This week’s recipe seemed like a sure bet – just glazed pork chops, after all, but ended up giving me a fair number of problems.  I often rail against recipes that specify “reduced-sodium soy sauce,” for example. I figure that if I am following a reduced sodium diet, that’s what I’ll have on hand, and I don’t really need to be directed to do so unless it makes a marked difference to the recipe. Sometimes, it does…

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The first question I faced here is “what kind of pork chops?” Could be loin chops, could be bone-in or boneless, could be thick or thin cut.  Looking at the specified cooking time, I hazarded a guess that it could be bone-in, medium cut chops (which tend to cook longer).

There’s another choice that the original cook would not have to make that I did: I had to make sure to get sliced peaches in heavy syrup – not light syrup, not “water with no sugar added,” not 100% juice. None of those would have created a good glaze.

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You see that jar of ketchup (or “catsup,” per the recipe)? It very definitely does not still have a 1/4 cup worth of ketchup in it. This was not ideal.

I had to make a number of assumptions about the recipe to make this one work, and they didn’t all pan out as I’d hoped. The first problem was that my baking pan (a standard 9×13) was far too small for 6 bone-in chops – much less the 7 I actually had. I chose to layer the chops, knowing as I did so that it wasn’t the best solution, but that’s what I had.

I also failed to brown them quite as well as I should have – a known problem when I try to sear meat. Together, these meant that the chops gave off a lot of liquid while cooking, so much so that I lost about 1/4 cup of stuffing when I spooned it between the chops.

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If I were to make this again, I’d make the following changes:

  • substitute boneless chops and significantly reduce the cooking time, perhaps even by half for the first cooking, then until they reached a safe (160F) temp for the second cooking.

It tasted great, even if the stuffing ended up being a little moist. I think with the right meat and the right sized pan this could be quite good. It reheated about as well as you can expect pork to – which is sort of meh. If I had seared the meat a little better, they might have been less dry. It feels like I’m damning with faint praise here, but this really was quite good.

 

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole*

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 6 pork chops
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 can diced peaches in heavy syrup
  • 1/4 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c “catsup”
  • 2 T vinegar**
  • 1 1/2 c very hot water
  • 1/2 stick margarine (1/4 cup)
  • 1 box Stove Top stuffing

Season chops with salt and pepper, brown well in oil on medium. Place in shallow baking dish. Drain peaches and reserve syrup. Heat 1/3 c syrup, sugar, vinegar, and catsup in pan. [Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer and stir continuously until the liquid reaches the consistency of a glaze and has reduced to roughly half volume.] Brush part of glaze on meat. Bake at 350F for 35 min.

Meanwhile, make stuffing, spoon between chops after baking, arrange fruit around chops & brush w/ remaining glaze. Bake 20 min. longer.

*I’ve cleaned up the recipe slightly by standardizing the abbreviations and adding information where it may be otherwise unclear (particularly the directions for the glaze). Everything else is as it was written.

**I used white wine vinegar.

(Next week: “Ethel Miller’s Casserole!”)

 

 

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Eating History 1: Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole

In 2014 and 2015, I inherited recipes written by the women in my family, including my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Based on the dates they were alive, these recipes likely span from 1900-1985.  I’m making them by following the original instructions as closely as I can. This is my history.

I must admit, for my first foray I’m taking the safe route. I already have a tuna casserole recipe I enjoy, and it isn’t as if putting tuna, cheese, and noodles together and then baking it would be new to our palates. It also has the advantage of being made out of ingredients that still exist, something that can’t be said for all of the recipes I have.

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I admit I was a little concerned about “shred process Am cheese.” Processed cheese is not (other than as a Velveeta brick) something I remember seeing. However, Kraft has apparently introduced shredded Velveeta just in time for me to be able to make tuna casserole.

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One thing I noticed in particular is that there is no fresh dairy used in this recipe, or indeed, many others I have. I call this “war cooking”, though it might just as easily have been depression cooking. This looks like my grandmother’s handwriting. She was born in 1918, so this may very well have been during WWII when my grandfather was overseas.

The recipe itself is not particularly difficult, though to my modern sensibilities it is oddly involved for something as pedestrian as tuna casserole. It starts with sauteing onions and then adding flour to make a roux. The evaporated milk is added slowly along with water and then the cheese is stirred in, to make a much creamier and fancier sauce than my usual method.

After stirring everything up, I was half-convinced I had botched the roux, based on how runny it was. Once it baked, however, the sauce thickened into a nice creamy base. It held up well in leftovers too, without soaking into the noodles too much.

If I were to make this again, I’d make the following changes:

  • substitute fresh milk for the evaporated milk+water
  • substitute cubed Velveeta for the cheese mixed into the sauce, and shredded cheddar for the cheese garnish

Overall, it was a great recipe to start with: a familiar taste with familiar ingredients. Check out the gallery for some process photos, including the photo no one ever shows: the view of the kitchen after the cooking is done! (Hover over a photo to see the caption.)

Cheesy Tuna Noodle Casserole*

(Makes 6 servings)

  • 1/3 c chopped onion
  • 2 T margarine
  • 2T flour
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 c water
  • 1 1/4 c shredded Processed American cheese
  • 1 1/2 t worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 t seasoned salt
  • 10 oz canned flaked tuna, drained
  • 1 c cooked peas, drained
  • 3 c cooked noodles, drained

Saute onions in margarine in med saucepan. Stir in flour. Gradually add evaporated milk and water. Cook over med heat til boils, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add 1c cheese**, worcestershire sauce, and seasoned salt. Stir until cheese is melted. Combine cheese sauce, tuna, peas, and noodles in casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min.

*I’ve cleaned up the recipe slightly by standardizing the abbreviations and adding information where it may be otherwise unclear. Everything else is as it was written.

**I have no idea why “cheese” is underlined in the recipe, but there you are.

 

Because I Needed Another Hobby

Or, How I Spent My Tuesday Night

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So, Shoryl was working on her stamp collection on Tuesday, but I was feeling a little out of sorts. She suggested I try the quilling kit I picked up on a whim. (Influenced heavily by the gorgeous quilled jewelry I picked up in Kansas, I’m sure.)

I found it to be a little bit tedious and fiddly, but ultimately fun and rewarding. And I was gratified to find that I didn’t actually suck at it.

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