Memere’s Busy Kitchen.

 

There are many, many, many memories to be found in Memere’s kitchen.

I was 7 years old, wearing my pajamas, being twirled around and around by Memere, with country music playing in the background.

I was 19 years old—sweaty and tired—drinking lemonade and eating shrimp sandwiches with Pepere, after painting the shed.

 

 

I was 21  years old, pushing holes into flat rounds of doughnut dough, watching them puff and pillow as they touched the hot grease.

Memere cared about cooking.  She cared about her recipes.  Her pride and her love came through and from kitchen.

I relive every single memory whenever I’m cooking one of Memere’s recipes.  Whenever I’m cooking for Pepere, whisking and stirring and sauteeing.  Whenever I smell flour and yeast and warm puffy breads.

 

 

Memere’s kitchen continues to be busy, busy, busy to this day.  Filled to the absolute brim with drama, style, excitement and smells.

Yes.  All of this continues on, each and every time that mom, dad and I prepare dinner for ourselves and for Pepere.

In Memere’s Kitchen.

This makes everything feel so right.

 

Tonight, with four hungry appetites and one inviting kitchen, we mutually decided to make Apple Glazed Pork Chops.

 

 

I don’t normally combine sweet fruit with savory things.  It just doesn’t feel right to me.

 

 

I do make one exception.  Because I’m pretty sure that pork chops were made to be combined with fruit.  Or maybe fruit was made to be combined with pork chops. 

Whichever way you look at it, the combination just works.

 

 

Tonight, Memere’s kitchen was filled with smiles and laughs and memories.  Lots of eating and sharing.  And cooking.

I think Memere would be proud.

Apple Glazed Pork Chops—modifed from the original version as seen in Taste of Home Magazine

Serves 4

This warm and comforting meal is best served hot, with garlicy mashed potatoes and your favorite vegetables.  Leftover chops are delicious when ch0pped and combined with rice, garlic and vegetables.  Enjoy!

  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 1 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp cold water
  • 2 large tarte apples, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  1. In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil.  Add the juice, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, salt to taste, rosemary, and thyme.  Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes or until meat juices run clear. 
  2. Combine the cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the skillet.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Meanwhile, in another skillet, cook the apples, onion, butter and remaining brown sugar over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until apples are softened.  Serve over pork chops.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: What are your favorite “kitchen memories”?

Memere’s Kitchen.

 

Memere was quite the French Canadian chef.  

From her tiny little kitchen, she produced countless warm graham cracker pies.  Fluffy banana cream pies that made your tastebuds melt—absolutely melt.  Deep, chocolatey fudge that made you close your eyes and dream only in chocolate.

It’s funny, because despite all of those things, whenever I think of Memere’s kitchen, I think of baked beans.

 

 

Memere and I had a lot of similar tastes when it came to food.  One of them being that we both loved baked beans.  Especially when smeered over puffy white pancakes.

(I always liked the fact that Memere would serve me pancakes and beans for breakfast.  I loved that this was totally normal.  Just your typical, standard ol’ breakfast fare.)

  

 

It was in February (or March?) of 2010 that I set out to make Memere a batch of beans.  We were both sitting in her living room, watching Food Network, and discussing the seriousness of making the perfect batch of beans.

“You won’t put bacon in there, right?  I don’t want bacon in my beans.”  Memere would say this with such a disgusted look on her face, that I knew this was a very critical step.  I scribbled it down on my notepad.   

 

I’m pretty sure the menfolk would have liked the addition.  The bacon, I mean.  And I’m pretty sure that many baked bean connoisseurs and baked bean snobs (because I know they’re out there) would have thrown in some sort of pork or rind or bacon.

But I knew better than to argue with Memere.  I just listened carefully to her instructions.  I took notes: No bacon.  Lots of molasses.  A long, slow bake

 

It was but an hour into preparing the beans, when I knew immediately that I must have forgotten something.  Something important.  The  beans were done—completely finished! 

I thought this was absolutely great.  Memere sounded totally worried.  “I don’t know,” she said.  “Baked beans should take at least a couple of hours.”

 

 

After a quick, Memere-to-me, step by step discussion, I realized what I had done.  The stovetop heat had been too high.  The beans had become too soft.  The flavors never even stood a chance of being able to meld and mix and mingle.  They were, in a word, bland.

It was back to the drawing board.  This time with further, more specific instructions from Memere.

 

 

As an aside, baking beans is a little like baking bread.  You need a lot of patience.  This isn’t always (ever?) easy.

 

 

The second time around, however, the results were baked bean perfection.  The beans remained firm but tender.  The molasses really shined through.  The ingredients were baked together in a long, dreamy process.

And there was no bacon in sight.

I served us bowls of beans for lunch.  Memere made us a loaf of her homemade bread and served me a thick slice covered in butter.  After a couple of silent bites in, Memere approved with a bright smile and a sharp nod.  And then we went on to discuss the serious matters of fashion, food, and Rachael Ray.

And that is why I always think of baked beans, whenever I think of Memere’s kitchen.

 

 

Boston Baked Beans

Serves about 4-5 main entrees

These beans are delicious a main entree, when served with a side salad and a whole grain cornbread.  Or, try serving on the side of your favorite meal (poultry or tofu come to mind.)  Better yet, serve over a plate of warm, puffy pancakes and eat them for breakfast.  They freeze well and can be stored in single serve containers, and brought to work when you need a quick lunch.

(p.s. They’re also the perfection addition to a Super Bowl Buffet!)

If you like your beans with a kick, add some hot sauce to the sauce mixture.  Enjoy! 😀

  • 2 c. navy beans
  • 1-2 onions, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp. blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  1. Soak beans overnight in cold water.  The next day, bring beans to a boil in the same water.  Immediately bring heat to low and cook for approximately 1 to 2 hrs.  Drain and reserve liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Arrange the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish and top with onions.
  4. In a saucepan, combine rest of ingredients, onions through brown sugar.  Add hot sauce if desired.  Bring mixture to a bowl and pour over beans.  Pour in just enough of reserved bean water to cover the beans.  Stir gently with rubber spatula and cover dish with lid or aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 3 to 4 hrs in preheated oven.  Stir at least every hour.
  6. ENJOY!

 Question: Who or what are the cooking inspirations in your life?  Bon Appetit magazine, Memere, Julia Childs (because she never cried over a few mistakes!) and Mollie Katzen.

oh haddy cakes

Haddie cakes come but once—or twice—a year.

It’s kind of a French thing.

I have yet to find haddie in any US markets.  And if there is, I don’t think I want to know.  It wouldn’t be as special, you know?  This can comes all the way from New Brunswick, Canada.  A treasure brought home by Pepere, along with Oh Henry bars, rounds of fat balogna, and sweet cherry blossoms. 

I love you Canada.

I like to picture old French women (and probably their daughters) making a batch of haddie cakes for the “menfolk,” after a long hard day in the fields.  Tired, worn out hands rolling the soft, plump white globes into a flaky crumb crust.  Frying them in a pan of butter.  Enticing the entire family indoors, causing more than just a few tablewide stomach growls. 

Maybe I like to picture all of these things, because it’s a little like picturing my own life as a little girl.  Sitting eagerly at Memere’s dinner table, watching all of the pots and pans fly wild with buttery sizzles and splats.  There always seemed to be a can of haddie sitting in the back of her pantry.  It felt like such a lucky day, when she pulled out a can, made a batch of haddie cakes, and threw them into a pan of butter.  Dinner at Memere’s. 

A lucky day.

 

Haddie cakes are simple to make and involve an assembly line of sorts.  First the patties are made and rounded.  Then they’re doused in a coat of bread crumbs. 

And then they just sit and wait to be pan fried.

When I make haddy cakes, I go back and forth between using real butter and cooking spray.  Really, both methods are delicious, offering you different advantages.  The path of using cooking spray produces a cake that tastes much lighter.  Like something you could place on top of a bowl of wilted greens.  Or something you could eat in a pita sandwich for a light midday meal.

The butter method is obviously heavier.  Heartier.  Something you would put on the center of your plate, and call it your meal.  Just as is.

Tonight I went with the lighter version…

…because I wanted to serve them with coleslaw.

Just so you know, this is not your typical coleslaw.  It contains more yogurt than mayonnaise, which scared me just a bit.  But with some tweaking (and chilling!) I was pleasantly surprised.  Unfortunately, this recipe is from Moosewood Cookbook, and I can’t share the details.  But I can tell you that I’m working on my own version of coleslaw, which—of course—I will share with you once it’s ready. 😉

Haddie Cakes

Haddie is just a mixture of different types of fish.  Haddock, cold, or pollock.  You could easily substitute your favorite fish, either canned or fresh, if haddie is not available in your grocery store. 

This is a tried and true, very—very—simple recipe that I will always treasure.  I hope you enjoy! 😀

  • 1 can of chicken haddie  (14 oz.) or other favorite fish
  • 4 cups prepared mashed potatoes
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fine bread crumbs (I make my own with whole wheat bread)
  • cooking spray or butter
  1. Mix together: haddie, potatoes, egg, onion powder, salt and pepper until combined.  Coat with bread crumbs and “fry” on sprayed  or lightly buttered nonstick pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Flip once and continue cooking until heated thorough.
  2. Serve as is, or in a whole wheat pita with lettuce and tomato, over a salad, with coleslaw, et cetera.
  3. Enjoy! 😀

Question: Do you enjoy any “cultural” meals? 

Fuelin’ Up

Yesterday was a very good day.  My mom and I spent time looking over old photos to add to the picture display at the funeral for Saturday, and I was incredibly worried that I’d be a big ball of tears by the end.  Instead, we both found ourselves fondly laughing at so many great memories.  Remember when… 

I was also full of peace.  Suddenly I felt okay with everything.  Yes, I miss my Memere and my heart still aches whenever I think about it.  Yes, I’m still on the verge of crying.  But I’m still okay.  Knowing that family is here to take care of Pepere and that Memere is in heaven with God is all the strength that I need to get through this.  Besides, my Memere would have shook her head and felt badlly if she knew how sad everyone was feeling. 

A good nights sleep and a run in the rain certainly helped me to feel better too. 😉  Last night it was pouring cats and dogs.  I’m pretty sure my sneakers are going to be sopped up for a good 2-3 days…haha.  But it was totally worth it.  I ran 2-miles and it may as well have been 6, based on how I felt when I rolled on home.  Completely rejuvinated.  I could think straight again. 

Breakfast was delicious this morning.  I decided to start my day with a filling, rounded out meal to fuel up for a morning bike ride… 😀

Veggie Scramble—1 whole egg + 1 egg white + 2 large handfuls of spinach.  Fried in a nonstick pan coated with cooking spray, and then topped with a slice of Sargento Reduced Fat Cheddar.  On the side I had two slices of TJ’s whole wheat bread with a sliced banana. 

Off to get ready for a morning bike ride.  It’s 60 degrees and sunny and I can not wait to start pedaling! 😀

Question: What is your favorite way to eat an egg?  I like mine fried in an egg sandwich with a slice of cheese, but it’s fun to mix things up once in a while. 😀