September 9th, 2013
School started today. For both boys. I have two school-aged kids.
When I first saw the little hungry boy’s preschool phase in schedule, I was bummed. He’s a second kid after all, totally ready for a full day of school, Monday through Friday. In a familiar building, with a teacher he’s known since he was little, and a big brother down the hall, I knew he’d be fine. Plus, I have a new life to start! Phase-in was just prolonging the goodbye, putting off the new beginning that we’ve been so excited to start.
Today I’m singing a new tune: thank goodness for phase-in. And not for my kid. For me.
I knew I’d be emotional, but wowee! This is big. BIG! As of next Monday, the end of phase-in, I will not have small children at home during the day. (That’s right clients, from this point forward there will be nothing but silence in the background when we get on the line. Imagine that!)
I couldn’t be more excited for myself and for my little boy, who walked into his classroom shy, but confident this morning, ready to paint and play and make new friends. Ready to leave with his big brother every morning instead of saying goodbye. But I’m also happy for our prolonged goodbye this week, for a little bit of time to adjust before we jump into our new beginning with both feet.
I’m feeling the same way in the kitchen these days.
Pan seared pork chops are a fall food for me. They are light, but with enough heft to warm you on a chilly evening. They also pair beautifully with fall produce like apples and squash. Though I’m super excited for fall cooking, it turns out I’m not quite ready to say my final goodbyes to summer produce. And, based on the sweet corn and juicy tomatoes that are still at my farmer’s market, they aren’t ready to say goodbye to me.
This dish is like a phase-in for my fall cooking. I’m still holding on to corn and tomatoes, but excited about what’s ahead.
I think it’s going to be a good year.
Pork Chops with End-of-Summer Salsa
(Can be adapted for kids 6+ mos)*
Flour, for breading
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 1/4 lb boneless pork chops (about 5 chops)
2 ears of corn, shucked
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus another 4 tablespoons, divided
3 tablespoon butter, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (you can substitute more chicken broth)
1 tomato, washed, cored and chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Place flour, salt and pepper in a large, shallow bowl; whisk with a fork to combine well. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels, then dip in the flour to coat each side, shaking off excess. Set aside.
2. In the meantime, cut kernels off of the cob. (Consider saving cobs to make corn stock.)
3. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pan set over medium-low heat. Add the corn and season with salt; saute for about 4 minutes, until the corn releases some juice and is just cooked. Be careful not to overcook the corn—you want it to stay crisp. Transfer corn to a bowl; set it aside to cool.
4. Wipe out the pan and return it to the stove, this time over medium heat. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon butter until foaming. Swirl to coat the bottom of the pan and add pork chops. Cook 5 minutes on one side, flip and another 5-6 minutes on the other, or until cooked through to desired doneness. Transfer chops to a serving platter where they can rest.
5. Return pan to heat and add shallots; sauté until soft and fragrant. Add broth and wine. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1/3, then remove from heat and swirl in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to finish a pan sauce. Pour sauce over the pork chops and all them to continue resting while you make the salsa.
6. To the cooled corn, add chopped tomato, cubes avocado, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt to taste and spoon over the sauced pork chops.
*Note: The corn salsa can easily be turned into a yummy puree or mash for your beginner eater; just pulse to desired consistency. If serving older babies or toddlers, you can even include a little meat, either pureed or cut into age-apporpriate bite sizes.