Life on Regal-Hill: March 4, 2009

One thing we have been doing here at Regal-Hill is planning our gardening for this year and ordering seeds. I may over plan and dream too much but it sure is fun to do when the wind is blowing, the temperature is 20 degrees or less and the wind chill is minus one, even if the sun is shining.

My plan is to plant more of each vegetable as I would like to can and freeze more so I don’t have to purchase vegetables during the nongrowing seasons. I have just begun buying potatoes, but we still have onions as well as frozen carrots and cauliflower. There are also canned beets, pickles, cider, jelly and some maple syrup. There is also homegrown cornmeal that is stored in the freezer that I use whenever I decide to make Johnny Cake or cornmeal muffins. Johnny Cake is also nice to serve in place of hot cereal and served with milk and maple syrup.

Seeds seem especially expensive this year, so shop around and only buy what you need if possible. In my experience seeds don’t keep more than a year and still germinate. The prices vary from catalog to catalog as well.

There is some talk here to tap the sap bush this year. Let’s hope this will be a good year for quality, quantity, sap weather and sale for maple syrup since for many years now there hasn’t been a good year to make maple syrup. Remember, you need cold nights, below freezing and warm, 40 degrees plus for the sap to run. Remember too that the last three days of February are the ruling days for March, April and May. So the next three months should be rather nice.

If you are like me, during the winter you run out of ideas for serving interesting meals. The other night I tried a new recipe for serving pork chops. It turned out we ate it, but I wasn’t encouraged to make it again. It was called Swiss-Stuffed Chops. It required considerable time, energy and cooking dishes to prepare it. Needless to say, I was disappointed. However, I thought I would try again to find a pork recipe my family would like. Perhaps if I try the following recipes we will all like these much better.

Sweet-and-Sour Chops
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 bone-in pork loin chops (7 ounces each)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can (20 ounces) unsweetened pineapple chunks, drained
1 small green pepper, cut into rings
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cold water
Hot cooked rice
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour and salt. Add pork chops, one at a time, and shake to coat. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish. Top with pineapple and green pepper; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, corn starch, broth, vinegar, ketchup and water until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Pour over chops. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. Serve over rice.
Yield: 4 servings
2006 Taste of Home Annual Recipes

Marla’s Maple Pork
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (two 3/4 pound pieces)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons each reduced-sodium soy sauce and ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1-1/2 teaspoons each curry powder and ground coriander
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Trim the pork of all visible fat. Place the pork in a large heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag.
Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour over pork in bag. Seal bag and turn several times to coat pork with marinade. Marinate pork in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Transfer pork and marinade to a small roasting pan or baking dish. Roast uncovered, at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes. Pork should still be slightly pink in the middle.
Let pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice thinly, drizzle extra sauce over pork and serve immediately.
Yield: 6 servings
2009 Taste of Home Annual Recipes