"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

Ingredients:

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!




 

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Sep. 12, 2009 at 11:07am

Sweet Things Make for Good Mornings

cupcakes & bling on Proctor

8am marked the Grand Opening of Sweet Things Cupcakes at 2510 North Proctor.  My boyfriend (and now blogging rival) Kevin and I arrived just after 8 to find a line forming with a steady stream of cupcake enthusiasts eager to step inside the long awaited cupcake and couture boutique.  We quickly took our place.  I was giddy.  I have a Master's degree in Food Culture: Communicating Quality Products from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Colorno Italy.  I spent a year tasting and analyzing top wines, cured meats, olive oil and cheeses in Italy, France, Spain and Greece...  and I am an absolute sucker for a pretty cupcake...  that's right...  bling it up and bring it on.  Unfortunately, more often than not I am captivated by it's visual appeal, and disappointed when I actually take a bite.  I had this very discussion with another patron, Ellencarey, who was standing in front of me in line, who has been tasting cupcakes all over town --- to the point of hating them (gasp!). 

Kevin and I approached the case, surrounded by the smell and sounds of espresso being made and artfully displayed bejeweled ladies clothing and accessories.  We selected 4 cupcakes from the case at $2.95 a pop...  Mint Chocolate (a deep chocolate cupcake with green frosting beehive, and an Andes mint topper), Raspberry Vanilla (vanilla cupcake with a slightly pink buttercream and a REAL raspberry on top), Red Velvet (red dyed vanilla cupcake, whipped cream cheese frosting with sprinkles and a cherry), and the Triple Chocolate (deep chocolate cupcake, chocolate frosting and sizable chocolate curls).  We followed Ellencarey and her friends Joanna and Pat (and their cupcakes) out to a table on the patio and chatted with them as they tried their cupcakes.  They were not disappointed... even the discerning Ellencarey was quite pleased with the not-too-sweet cake and abundant (but delicate) frosting.  They all agreed that you could actually taste raspberry in the frosting of the Rasperry Vanilla cupcake.  And I agree...  you really can --- it seems that they have incorporated a nice seedy raspberry jam into the buttercream --- the result is quite delicious.  The crumb of the vanilla cake is coarse --- it's a strong cake that holds it's own against the flavorful frosting.  The Mint Chocolate and Triple Chocolate cupcakes were my favorite, though...  the chocolate cupcake has a finer crumb and a slight savory quality that allows the chocolate to shine. 

I was impressed with the cupcakes, impressed with the ambiance, and impressed with the service.  The staff is friendly and accommodating and the product is really something worth celebrating.  So if you have a moment and a few extra bucks on this gorgeous weekend, join in the cupcake bliss at Sweet Things Cupcakes!

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