ma's pork chops

for some reason, when i hear pork chops, i automatically think of little house on the prairie. i have no idea why. but that's why this recipe is called "ma's" pork chops. because i feel like only people who lived in the middle of nowhere on a prairie would eat them. which is weird, because they're delicious. anyway, let's get started. you'll need some pork chops, oil, butter, salt, pepper, and cream of mushroom soup. dave likes the thin ones (chops, that is), but any chop will do.
pour some oil (1/4 cup) in the bottom of a large skillet, along with a tablespoon of butter. turn the heat to medium high, heating the oil and melting the butter.
slice the ends of the chops like this, through the fat, so they don't curl up as you brown them.
now coat each side in flour,
like so.
put your pork chop in the pan and leave it for a few minutes to brown.

add some salt
and pepper to each side.
i didn't cut the edges of these chops well enough, see how they curled and the chop didn't get brown in the middle? don't let that happen. it will be sad.
see that one in the back? you want it like that.
anyway, now open your can of cream of mushroom soup and pour it into the pan.
i've got to say, dave hates mushrooms. i always feel bad when i make this recipe because he hates them so much. but i don't add extra mushrooms, and he likes the flavor of cream of mushroom soup. he just has to pick out all the little bits of mushroom they put in there. he even emailed campbell's and asked them to make cream of mushroom without the mushroom bits. they said no.

anyway, after you get your cream of mushroom in there, then spread it out and put your pork chops on top of it.
oops. i forgot to pour off the grease. don't forget that step, or you'll have greasy gravy. yuck. pour off the grease before you add your cream of mushroom.

now turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes to an hour.
5 minutes before dinner is ready, remove the pork chops to a plate. turn the heat on the stove up to high and get the soup bubbling.
once it's bubbling, add milk 1/4 cup at a time.
stir with a whisk until it's well combined.
once it's the right (gravy) consistency, stop adding milk. let it start bubbling again, then turn the heat off and leave it for a minute or two.
give it one last stir and pour it into a bowl. serve over your pork chops and a baked potato (and with acorn squash, yum). once i've eaten all the peas out of my squash, i like to add some of this gravy and finish the rest of it (the squash). it's a really good meal.
ma's pork chops

4 pork chops
salt & pepper
1 can cream of mushroom soup

cut the sides of your pork chops, and coat in flour. brown in a skillet with 1/4 cup oil and 1-2 tbsp. butter. once browned, pour in a can of cream of mushroom soup. place the pork chops on top of the soup, cover the pan, and turn heat to low. simmer for 40 minutes to an hour. remove pork chops to a plate, and turn heat to high. add milk to the soup 1/4 cup at a time until you get the right consistency. serve with baked potatoes and squash.


acorn squash

my mom used to make this when i was a kid and i wanted to gag every time. seriously? who eats stuff like this? well, apprently i do. it's good people. really really good. too bad i didn't know this until a few years ago. so go to the grocery store, and pick out your very own acorn squash. it should feel heavy for its size, and be mostly green.use a big knife and cut it in half (it's hard).
like so.
now take a spoon,
and scoop out the insides. this always reminds me of scooping out pumpkins at halloween. it's disgusting. it smells bad. but in the end, isn't it worth it? no? well for squash it is. i promise.
clean it out. no stringy stuff allowed.
then place both halves open-side-down on a foil-lined cookie sheet, and bake in a 350* oven for 45 minutes.
then take the pan out and turn the squash over.
add 1/2 tbsp. butter and some salt and pepper. put it back in the oven for 15 more minutes.
then pull it out of the oven, and voila! you have a yummy acorn squash!
you can serve it just like this, or do it like my mom. my mom always served hers with creamed peas in the middle, so i do too. it's good, but it might turn some people off, so you don't have to do this part if you don't want to. but if you do, here's how you do it: get some frozen peas, however much you want, and put them in a pot with water over the top. add some salt, and boil them for 5 minutes. then pour off the water and add some milk and thickening (flour and water mixed together, like for gravy). not very much, it gets thick really fast. make sure it's hot, and then scoop into the middle of your squash.
now take your fork, and mix the yummy yellow stuff with your peas (or without, whatever). just get that yellow stuff mixed with the butter and salt and pepper. mmmmboy.

i like to serve acorn squash with my mom's pork chops (recipe to come).mmmmm. i'll say it again. mmmmmmmmm. one more time. MMMMMMMMM.
yes, i'm serious.
and scrape it clean. i can't resist getting every last bite of this stuff.
acorn squash

cut the squash in half, and clean out the insides. place halves open-side-down on a foil-lined pan and cook at 350* for 45 minutes. turn squash over, add 1/2 tbsp. butter and salt and pepper and continue cooking 15 more minutes. serve as is or with creamed peas.

creamed peas

1/2 package frozen peas, boiled with water and salt for 5 minutes. pour off water, add milk and thickening (not very much, it gets really thick really fast) and serve in the middle of the squash.


sunday dinner

growing up. every sunday.
roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, hot rolls, jell-o.
every sunday. i'm not exaggerating people. every sunday for my entire life. and i loved it. i still love it. you'd think i'd be tired of it by now, but i'm not. i don't think i ever will be. so the next few posts will be dedicated to sunday dinner. i do it a little different from my mom, but nothing significant (carrots instead of green beans, hot rolls that are not homemade, you get my drift). and she does it like my dad's mom, grandma larson did, so this is a multi-generational meal. but it gets expensive, so i don't make it more than a few times a year. my mom invites us several times a month anyway, so we eat it there for free (if you're not counting the $20 we spend in gas just to get there and back). so, if you want to learn how to make a super easy, super delicious sunday dinner, read on. i haven't finished all of the different pieces yet, so if there is only one or two recipes below, don't worry. the rest are on their way.

sunday dinner: roast, carrots, gravy

the roast. the key piece of sunday dinner. this is how you make it people. pay attention. i know everybody knows how to make a roast. but there is a secret to this one that most people don't know. so i meant it, pay attention.

let's get started. you'll need a roast, some oil, salt & pepper, and Lipton Onion Soup Mix. and some carrots, if you want. we like rumps in our family. ahem, i mean rump roasts. i meant rump roasts. but i suppose we like rumps too. i know i do. when choosing a roast, i try to find a small-ish roast with few to no strips of fat going through the middle. the fat in the middle is gross and makes the roast tough, in my opinion. go for the least amount of fat people. trust me.
pour some oil in a roasting pan. not too much. i have no idea how much. how much do you think this is? how about....1/4 of a cup? no. less than that.
put your roast in. you want to brown it. brown it good. wait, i think it's supposed to be "brown it well." the browner you brown it, the better your gravy will taste. and you want yummy gravy.
put the heat on medium-high and cover. leave it. i said leave it! don't touch it for a few minutes. four or five at least.
for some entertainment while you're waiting, help your kid make a huge mess. (after he did this he goes, "i did it!" he's cute.)
see that? that's brown. that's exactly what you want, and i mean it. now turn it, and brown it on all the rest of the sides.
then watch your kid make an even bigger mess.
the first browned part was better. i left this for a while but it was so uneven it didn't brown as well as the bottom.
now add some salt. this is waaay too much but i was trying to take a picture at the same time and, well, this is what happened. i scraped that off after i took the picture.
and some pepper. lots of pepper is good. it makes the gravy delish. and the roast, too. but i care more about the gravy, obviously. i've mentioned it about 40 times so far and we haven't even finished browning the roast yet. i love to have this gravy on baked potatoes. it's great on mashed, too, but i really love it on baked. so brown it well, or your potatoes won't be as good. and i'm serious about my potatoes, just ask dave.
now i add about 2 cups of water. for the gravy. yes, gravy again. get used to it. i'm going to be talking about it a lot.
and this is the secret, people. beefy onion. regular onion is okay, but beefy onion? that's the ticket. you want this one.
recipe secrets is right. i use this in my meatloaf and i want it in everything else meat-ish.
pour it on your roast--try and get it all on the meat. you don't want to lose any of this deliciousness to the water.
see? perfect. yum.
i like to add some carrots to the water. mom never did this, but we looove cooked carrots at our house, and cooked in the browned gravy water with the lipton beefy onion? to die for. literally. it's probably going to kill me one day. i don't care. it's that good.
now stick it in the oven. i cooked mine at 250* for 6 hours. that was a bit too long. it wasn't burned but it was a little dry. i think it's probably better to cook it at 275* for 3-4 hours (do it right before church, then as soon as you get home dinner is just about ready--perfect for fast sundays and late church times!) or 250* for 4-5 hours.
mmmboy. check out those carrots. and the beefy onion on top. it doesn't get better than this, i'm telling you. it just doesn't.
now grab some forks and get the roast out of the pan, onto a plate. mine was so tender it almost fell apart as i transferred it, so be careful!
ahhh....i wish i could somehow transfer the smell to your house. there is nothing quite like the smell of this roast on a sunday after you get home from church. delightful. i want to lick that beefy onion right off that rump.

now you need a knife. i like this cutting set that my brother james and his wife holly gave dave and i a few months after we were married (i cannot remember why they gave us one of these, except that every time we had them over for dinner i'd ask them to bring theirs...i guess they got sick of sharing?!). i love this set. it comes in a handy boxy with different blades. it's very fun. electric knives in general are sort of fun. but this roast was so tender i probaby could have cut it with a spoon and it wouldn't have mattered.
cut the fat off the bottom (unless you like fatty bottoms, that is)
and slice it thinly. or thickly. whatever. i like it thin, like me. heh heh heh. good one. now cover and set aside while you get everything else ready.

use a strainer to scoop out your carrots,

and look! some of the beefy onion got on the carrots...this could not be better. i'm so excited about these carrots.
and now for the gravy. my mom makes the most delicious gravy known to man. i have never quite perfected it, but i'm working on it. after you've strained the carrots out, put your roasting pan on the stove and bring the water to a boil. if you're having lots of people over, add some more water to the pan. if it's just you, leave it. the more concentrated the juice, the better the gravy.
get one of these. they're the best whisks in the world.
then make your thickening. i dont' know how to explain this...i add 3 of these spoonfuls to a tupperware. i had a tupperware salad dressing shaker that i used to use but dave lost it, so now i just use a small tupperware bowl. add a little bit more water than flour--you'll have to eyeball it, or else measure out your flour first, then add a bit more water--and then put the lid on and shake.you'll want something water tight to shake it in. shake it really well, make sure the flour and water mix evenly. if it's lumpy, you might want to try again so you don't get lumpy gravy. it should look like this.
when your water is boiling, add the thickening
and whisk together.
once it's thick and mixed well, turn off the stove and let the gravy boil for a minute.
give it one more stir, then put it in a serving bowl with a ladle, and you're ready to eat.
check it out:

sunday dinner.
a real masterpiece.

mom's (or grandma larson's or mine) sunday dinner

1 rump roast
1 packet lipton onion soup mix
2 cups water
1 package of baby carrots

brown the roast well. add salt, pepper, and soup mix. pour in 2 cups of water and add carrots. cover and cook at 250* for 4-5 hours or 275* for 3-4 hours. serve with baked or mashed potatoes (i looove baked potatoes with this gravy), cooked carrots (or green beans), and hot rolls. and don't forget the jell-o!!

i also like to use rhodes rolls, because they're easy and pretty good, and homemade rolls just take a lot of time. but if you're brave, go for the gusto man. make 'em from scratch like mom. i'm not gonna, but you can feel free. and i like to serve them with homemade strawberry jam. yum-o.