FB Note Transfer #3
March 5th, 2011
Growing up I was fed well. My mom and dad were really good cooks. I come from a long line of Midwestern restaurateurs and home cooks, so to say I was blessed with good food growing up is an understatement. My dad did a lot of the cooking and my mom did almost all of the baking. She made the BEST pies and cookies! Dad made wonderful brownies and cakes. He baked all of our birthday cakes and even decorated them with our fave characters. My graduation party was complete with a 3 foot chocolate cake iced with my school colors.
As good as my parent’s food was growing up,and as much as I enjoyed our dinners, there is one thing I will say: it lacked variety. (or at least the variety I have become accustomed to!) I am not complaining. The food was outstanding and I am so grateful that we sat down together every night! That is something I will always treasure! You can just tell I am from Kansas as simplicity is in our nature.
You could pretty much count on the following menu in my childhood home:
-Spaghetti w/ meat sauce, garlic bread and salad. (the meat sauce would simmer ALL DAY!! Oh the smells in that house!!)
– Mom’s Meatloaf with dad’s mashed potatoes and canned green beans
-Tuna Casserole (with the ruffles have ridges on top) and canned peas
-Dad’s homemade tacos ( he made his own shells,chips and salsa! So good!)
-Roast beef (dad made THE BEST gravy! I still have not mastered his gravy) with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob (nothing green for miles!)
-Bbq beef with either ground beef or leftover roast beef (they never called them Sloppy Joes–ever!! I don’t know why. See my previous blog post on Sloppy Joes), frozen french fries in the fry daddy and salad. (not green leafy salad mind you. That bagged iceberg with tiny bits of carrots and cabbage. The only dressing provided was Italian and french.)
-Shepherds pie (with leftover roast beef)
-Ham and Beans with cornbread (You had to have the apple cider vinegar splashed in there,or it wasn’t right according to dad.) The cornbread was always made in a cast iron skillet and slathered with a stick of butter. mmhmmm)
-Beanie Weanies (FRANKS AND BEANS!!), bread and butter and salad
-Dad’s bbq ribs/chicken (His bbq was really the best I have ever had!! Anywhere!! HANDS DOWN!!! I miss it dad.), Potato salad (also the best!) and baked beans.
-Mom’s Parmesan Chicken (no, not chicken Parmesan has . Chicken Parm has marinara and cheese generously covering it. This was JUST baked parm crusted chicken and nothing else.), buttered noodles and a veggie.
-Chicken and noodles. TRIPLE carbs on this night! They would serve the chicken and noodles over mash potatoes and usually we would have those Pillsbury bread sticks along side. Again, no green stuff to be seen! How did we not get the scurvy? (I guess we loved fruit.)
-Minute Steak (this is basically a thinly crusted Chicken fried steak with no gravy, made on an electric skillet. My sis and I would would drown it in ketchup. Mom would make fried potatoes and corn with this. (Oh Greens, greens wherefore art thou greens?)
Frozen fish sticks (for shame!) with homemade tartar sauce, mac n cheese and a green (gasp!) veggie. Confession: I never had real fish until I was 18!!! I tried it for the first time when I got my free training meal working at Applebee’s. It was salmon and I was in absolute heaven. I may or may not have yelled at my parents for sheltering me for so long. Fish sticks and canned tuna were the extent of my seafood knowledge as a kid. We were truly land locked Midwesterners with disdain for sea creatures. Miraculously, I love fish–even sushi–now!!)
-Burgers and fries (either made at home or at our grandparents nearly 40 year old establishment—BILL’S BIG 6— in which we all worked since we were knee high to a french fry!). Y’all I have yet to find a burger to match my Grandpa Bill’s. I am quite the burger snob because of his influence. I am sad that most of you know not of his burger brilliance.
-Asian night: Hamburger stir fry or Sweet and sour Chicken. The most exotic items on our menu. Mom usually only made each of these once or twice a year. The hamburger stir fry was ground beef, cabbage, canned green beans, rice and soy sauce stir fried. The Sweet and sour chicken was not authentic. It was jarred sauce and pineapple with chicken, served over rice, with chow mein noodles to garnish. I was always excited for these nights since I love variety and felt like I was being transported to another land. (or at least a chinese restaurant. haha)
-Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter dinner-Turkey. Turkey. Turkey!! More Turkey!!! As far as meat goes, we never had anything else for holidays. Not ham or goose or lamb or chicken or Cornish hens or beef tenderloin or prime rib or crown roast. JUST turkey and all the trimmings for ALL holidays. The L tryptophan should have killed us! Hahahahaha! I think dad was addicted..
That is pretty much it! We would rinse and repeat this meal plan month after month year after year. Delicious,yes,comforting, yes, however, in hindsight,I realize how VERY sheltered I was in the culinary world! I did learn a few things in the kitchen, How to make pie crust,peel potatoes,fry noodles,make a mean marinara and how NOT to burn the house down at a fairly young age (although in regards to that last one,they never told me that bacon grease fires get WORSE if you put water on them! My roomie in college can testify to this fact!! SORRY KATE!!)
When dating my now husband, he introduced me to Lebanese food and sushi. He helped me to branch out in my cooking abilities (and in my eating abilities) by inspiring me with his food favorites. I became passionate about food. After our 2nd child was born, I started checking out cookbooks from the library and “devouring” them with gusto! I wanted to learn as much as I could about all things cooking! The dormant domestic goddess in me had been awakened. I went to self taught culinary school through those books. I have a bit of a food obsession now, as many must know. This can be dangerous and at the same time liberating for a going on 11 year type one diabetic. Dangerous, because there are so many tempting recipes that scream at me to make them. Liberating, because the variety can help with boredom, which cuts down on me being tempted to eat too much of something I shouldn’t .
My good friend Angie sent me the recipe below when my internet was down last summer. We didn’t have internet for about a year,so I was having withdrawal from my food sites/blogs. She was one of the people that kindly kept in touch with me via paper hugs (what I call letters) and sent me all kinds of recipes. My love language surely must be food.
This recipe surprised me and would definitely NOT have been something my parents would have served!
(LOVE you DAD!! 😀 as mentioned I think you were/are a GREAT cook! * See edit after the recipe.)
The saltiness of the pork blends perfectly w the sweet and spicy “salsa” (I think it’s more of a relish or chutney…salsa is more pureed and this is chunky).
I had a ton of leftovers and mixed the rice I had on the side w the pork the next day for lunch ..filled the tortillas,topped w/ the salsa and YUM! I liked it so much that way I think I will just put the rice in there next time instead of serving it on the side. For extra fiber and protein I bet throwing in some black beans would be yummy too!
The original recipe called for “pork tenderloin sliced thin” I used pork roast and shredded it. I have tried both ways and I like the shredded pork much more! you decide what you prefer!
I also added a tsp of Tejas seasoning to the dressing and sprinkled a bit on the rice….I dunno if yall can get that seasoning but it is GREAT!! It’s just chiles w/ dehydrated lime…I got it at Kroger. (Wichitans that translates as Dillons)
Explore your culinary world peeps! There is so much to discover!
Pork Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Adapted from Family Circle
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 Tbls. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Tejas seasoning (optional)
2 Tbls. chopped cilantro
2 cups pineapple (fresh or canned ) diced
2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 seeded jalapeno (or for more heat..leave the seeds)
1 pork Tenderloin or Roast (1.5 lbs) sliced or shredded
1 tsp. kosher or sea salt
1 pkg. of flour or corn tortillas
Heat oven to recommended setting on the pkg of pork
Mix all the dressing together by whisk
Make salsa. Combine all ingredients plus 2 Tbls. of dressing
Marinade meat in remaining dressing for 15-20 minutes in fridge (or do like I did and make dressing and salsa the night before and marinade the pork overnight)
Rub meat with salt
Cook the meat to desired doneness,cut into thin slices or shred
To serve, fill warm tortillas with pork and salsa. Sprinkle with extra Tejas seasoning if desired.
Serve rice and black beans either alongside or in with the tacos!
(EDIT FOR December 29,2017: Though both my parents have passed on into glory, I like to think they are proud of their girls for being adventurous in the kitchen. They laid a foundation of love for cooking and passed it on to us. I aspire to pass it to my own children, and think of them often when I am providing meals for my family. I also still make many of the delicious dinners I grew up on, which warms my heart, satisfies my tummy and keeps their memory alive.)