"Libby"'s Blog

Nov. 4, 2009 at 9:54pm

Joblessness Enhances Culinary Aptitude

A job rejection recovery meal

Tonight I made dinner.  I didn't crack open a can, use a prepared food item or consult a recipe.  I harvested herbs from the garden, sliced organic apples and onions, consulted a bottle of Trader Joe's California Estate extra virgin olive oil (the BEST deal on extra virgin olive oil in any chain grocery store) and worked a little magic on some bone-in pork chops from Tacoma Boys.  Tonight wasn't so different from any other night --- I usually cook --- and I think I usually cook very well, using fresh ingredients...  but something about the frustration of yet another job rejection inspired an enhanced level of culinary aptitude.  This particular job happened to be a position in dining services at a local university --- my credentials should have put me in the running --- management experience, knowledge of and interest in sustainable food practices, passion for feeding myself and others with top quality foods.  Heck, I even have a Master's degree in Food Culture and Communications from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Colorno, Italy (http://unisg.it/pagine/eng/programs/master_in_food_culture_and_communications/program.lasso)...  a degree in FOOD, people, and yet I can't seem to get a job in a local grocery store, restaurant, or any other type of food services facility to save my life.  In fact, I haven't even landed an interview with ANY of the establishments to which I've applied, and I fear they have all made a mistake.  I don't mean this to come across as a rant, or to come across as high and mighty...  but whatever happened to the good old fashioned interview?

I chewed on the many facets of my current unemployed status over dinner and a glass of Pinot, and realized that more troubling than not earning an income (and that IS very troubling), is my inability to share my love of good food with other people who love good food, or want to learn about good food...  I wanted to take this opportunity to open a discussion on YOUR favorite 'mood' recipes...  what do you make when you're tense?  Frustrated?  In love?  Delighted?  Bored? 

I'll make the first contribution by writing down the recipe/process for my Job Rejection Recovery Meal:  Sage & Rosemary Seared Pork Chops with Oven Roasted Apples


2 bone-in pork chops, 8-10 ounces each
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 leaves fresh sage
Salt, pepper, Johnny's seasoning salt
2 Tbsp. California extra virgin olive oil
3 small organic apples, cored and sliced
1/2 large onion (I used yellow, but think red would be lovely), sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F

In a glass baking dish, combine apple slices, sliced onion, garlic, ginger, honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and sage in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season pork chops liberally with salt, pepper and Johnny's seasoning salt on BOTH sides.  Sear and brown pork chops in the hot extra virgin olive oil, approximately 3 minutes per side.  Don't forget to sear the edges of the pork chops as well --- using tongs, pick up the chops and introduce the fatty edges to the pan for about 1 minute.  Remove the pork chops and herbs** and place them on top of the apple mixture.  Roast for approximately 30 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven, or until the internal temperature of the pork chops reaches150 degrees.

**I used the drippings from the chops to make a nice mushroom gravy/sauce to pour over steamed green beans --- this would be delicious on mashed potatoes, too!  Don't let the drippings go to waste!


comments [9]  |  posted under culinary, employment, food, Slow Food, Tacoma, UNISG, wine


by KevinFreitas on 11/4/2009 @ 9:59pm
I can attest -- this was a fantastic meal! Not being much of a cook myself I tend toward dining out when I need a dose of soul food. And anyone who knows me knows I can easily be appeased with a bag of chips and some tomatillo salsa from Tacoma Boys.

Oh, and that "local university" doesn't know who they're missing!

by L.S.Erhardt on 11/4/2009 @ 10:54pm
Nice. I'll have to try that one with chicken... I usually don't eat pork or red meats. (Yes, I know pork is a white meat... but so is human)

If anyone wants it, I can share my recipe for home-made butternut squash soup.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/4/2009 @ 11:33pm
Butternut soup, was that another favorite of Judge Hecht?

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/4/2009 @ 11:46pm
Red meat is not bad for you, now blue green meat, that is bad for you. George Carlin.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 11/5/2009 @ 1:58am
I stand corrected, that would be Tommy Smothers, not George Carlin. In need a pie in the face from Soupy Sales.

by Libby on 11/5/2009 @ 6:48am
@Thorax - please! do share your butternut squash soup recipe!

by Dmitri on 11/5/2009 @ 7:13am
And Soupy just died the other day. 83 years old, I think. No pie for you, CS!

The recipe sounds tasty, much better than a bag of chips.

by L.S.Erhardt on 11/5/2009 @ 10:22pm
Well, the squash soupy is alive and well... until dinner time.

Here's the recipe:

5 cups of chicken or veggie stock
1 large or 2 medium butternut squash
1 walla walla onion (or your favorite kind)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 tsp curry
salt to taste (if needed)
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter

Firstly, cut the butternut(s) in half and remove the seeds. Then peel the skin off your squash. Cut the squash into about 1" cubes and put in the pot with the stock. Crank up the heat.

Next, finely chop your onion. Throw it in a frying pan with the butter. Season with the cinnamon and curry. Sautee until the onions are translucent.
Throw the cooked onions in with the squash.

Cook for about 30 minuets or until the squash is tender. Using a strainer, remove most of the squash from the liquid and put it in the blender. Now, I like my soup creamy but with chunks of squash, so I removed about 80% of the squash and pureed it. Add your milk to the blender with the squash to help get that creamy texture.
Put your squash puree back into the broth and stir well, adding in the nutmeg and pepper.

Simmer on the stove until the soup has reached your desired thickness.
One big squash should feed 4 people a reasonable bowlful of soup.


by Libby on 11/6/2009 @ 11:10pm
delish! thanks for sharing --- this one will be on the table next week!