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Braised Pork & Rainbow Chard


First of all, that package of meat labeled “country style pork ribs” — they are not ribs. They’re not even all that close to the ribs.

I don’t know why they call them ribs. Maybe because they kind of look like short ribs. But it’s a good way to get a decent portion of pork shoulder without having to buy a whole one.

Second, let me tell you about fond. If you know what it is, just stand by for a minute. When you get to the step where you’re taking the cooked meat out of the pot, there’s this residue at the bottom. It can be a dark, gooey liquid or just bits of stuff left behind.

That’s the fond. Its whole name is the French term fonds de cuisine and, unless it’s badly scorched, it is like magic for a sauce, a gravy or whatever this is we’re making.

If you don’t have time for all this and you want to skip to the end, just use some leftover pork roast or pot roast or even shrimp. It’s all about the chard anyway. Heat some oil in a large kettle on the stove. Chop up an onion and a bell pepper. Prep the chard as in step 12. Saute the onion until it starts to soften. Then pick up at step 16.

OK, you may proceed. First, gather your equipment.

cast iron Dutch oven or other large oven-safe pot/baking dish with lid

tongs or meat fork

cutting board

chef’s knife

heat safe plate

pot holders, obviously, unless you are Superman


  • cooking oil
  • 2 lb country style pork ribs
  • seasoned salt, pepper and paprika (or whatever salt/spice/herb you like)
  • 1 t ginger paste (optional; can substitute ground ginger)
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 bunches rainbow chard
  • 1-2 cups broth, stock of your choice or water (I used beef stock)
  • 1 T fish sauce (optional)
  • Base: cooked pasta, cheese grits or rice
  • Condiments: chopped cilantro, chopped peanuts, sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste)


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put a heat-safe bowl of water on a separate rack in the oven. This will help keep the meat from drying out.

2. On the stovetop, heat 2-3 T. oil.

3. While oil is heating, remove pork from package and place on cutting board. Salt and pepper all sides and rub with paprika or whatever.

4. When oil starts to shimmer, add ginger paste and garlic and cook for about a minute.

5. Add pork and sear on all sides to a nice brown crust, 1-2 minutes per side. Lower heat if meat starts to scorch.

6. While pork is browning, wipe off cutting board and cover with a couple of paper towels.

7. When pork is ready, remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Leave pot on hot burner and do not turn off the stove.

8. Loosen fond slightly at the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add a little oil if you need to, about 1-2 T. Add half the chopped onion and stir to coat. Then put the pork back in the pot, on top of the onion.

9. Pour in 1 c. stock.

Pause for a moment to give thanks for the fond. If you’ve used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, this is a magical moment. Just appreciate the sound, the smell and the way it looks when the fond melts into the stock and sizzles to the surface. This is my favorite thing in cooking.

10. Turn off the stove, cover the pot and put in the oven for an hour. Check every 30 minutes or so and add stock as necessary to keep meat from drying out. Add water to that bowl on the other rack if it’s all evaporated.

11. While meat is cooking, rinse off cutting board. Wash, seed and dice bell pepper.

12. Separate stems from the chard leaves and discard any tough stems or yellowed leaves. Wash stems and leaves under running water and pat dry. Slice stems into 1″ pieces and chop or tear leaves into mouth-sized pieces.

Helpful tip: you can leave all these vegies on the counter while the meat is cooking unless you have dogs like Salvador and Lenny. They will eat anything. So you might need to put your vegies in the fridge until step 14.

13. After the meat has cooked for an hour, reduce oven temp to 275. Then check every 20-30 minutes to see if the meat is tender. Uncover to reduce the stock if there’s too much (more than 1 to 1.5 cups). Otherwise, add more stock if you need to and replace the lid.

14. When meat is FINALLY done, remove from the pot with tongs and put on the plate to rest. Put the pot back on the stovetop burner and turn on high. When stock begins to bubble, add the rest of the chopped onion and braise until it begins to soften.

15. Meanwhile, pull or cut meat into bite-sized pieces if desired.

16. Add the bell pepper and the chard stems to the onion in the pot and toss together. Braise for a minute or two longer.

17. Then add the meat back to the pot.

18. Stuff as much of the chard leaves as you can into the pot. You might have to do this in batches.

Cover the pot and turn heat to medium-low and cover.

Every 2-3 minutes, stir the pot to move the wilted leaves to the top until all the leaves have been braised. It doesn’t take long.

This is a good place to check for seasoning, add what you need, including a tablespoon of fish sauce.

19. Plate your food by ladling onto a bed of hot pasta, cheese grits, rice or nothing. Add a dollop of sambal, a sprinkle of cilantro and a spoonful of peanuts.

20. Dig in. Don’t burn your tongue.


Caramel Cinnamon Apple Tart




This is an all-calorie creation.
Do not look for carb substitutes here.
This is for when your sweet tooth is really aching.

I like to make this in a deep baking dish — less likely to bubble over in the oven.

Also, my pie crust box said to put in an ungreased dish but it stuck after baking so next time I’m prepping with cooking spray.


1 9″ pie crust (make your own or use refrigerated premade)
2 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (I used Fujis)
1/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
dash salt
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/2 jar caramel ice cream topping, heated until pourable
Aluminum foil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Center your pie crust in a glass baking dish or a deep dish pie plate.
If the crust is too big just let the edges hang over the sides.

Put sliced apples in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon.
Pour over apples and stir until each slice is well coated.
Spread apples evenly over pie crust.
Drizzle first with melted butter, then with caramel topping.

At this point, if you have pie crust hanging over the sides of your dish, just fold the edges over the top of the filling.

Cover with foil.
Bake for 20-30 min or until crust is brown.

Serves at least 4 if you’re polite.

Crunchy Oat Bars


I’m never hungry in the morning. I’d always rather have breakfast for supper. Give me coffee with milk and I’m good until noon. However, I tend to get foggy by mid-morning, so I try to have a light snack. Nothing tempts me like granola bars, especially in the winter when cold fresh fruit seems like a bad idea.

Satisfying, high in fiber, these are also high in calories, a whopping 300 per bar. The culprit here? The almonds. They’re higher in calories than either the coconut or the condensed milk. You can make a lower calorie bar by eliminating some of the extras and increasing the oats and still have a great snack.

You can substitute any dried fruit, nuts or seeds. This is what I happened to have in my pantry the day I made them. You just want to end up with a sticky ball of dough that isn’t too runny and that presses easily into the pan.


2 c oats
cooking spray
1 c chopped toasted almonds
1 c shredded coconut
1 c raisins
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 can condensed milk

aluminum foil
waxed paper

Preheat oven to 300.
Line 9×12 cookie sheet with foil.
Spread oats evenly and toast for 10 minutes.

Pour oats into bowl to cool.
Set aside foil-lined pan to cool.

Increase oven temp to 350.
Put open can of condensed milk on rack to warm.

Spray cooled foil with cooking spray.

Combine toasted oats, almonds, coconut, raisins and cinnamon.
Slowly pour warmed milk over mixture and stir in completely.

Spread evenly onto greased foil.
Cut length of waxed paper and use to press mixture evenly into pan to edges.

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

Remove from oven and lift bars from pan.
Flip upside down into pan and peel off foil.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes then use pizza cutter into bars.

Allow to cool completely before storing.

Makes 16 bars.

P.S.  They were crunchy coming out of the pan.  After overnight storage in Tupperware, they’re chewy.  I like them either way.


White Bean Chili


white bean chiliThis is another of those recipes that welcomes improv.

If you are lucky enough to live where you can pick up a hot rotisserie chicken at the grocery store, you can have the wings and leg quarters for dinner another time and make this soup with the breast.
Or dice and saute your own boneless breast.

If you have the time and the presence of mind, cook your own Great Northern beans.
But a can of white beans works fine — you can sub cannellini, navy or limas.

A mild yellow onion is my preference here, Vidalias are best but a white onion works.
And you can sub bell pepper (any color) or jalapenos for the chilies.

Add handful of chopped greens (turnip, spinach, kale) if you need green leafies in a meal.
Add a cup of cooked macaroni to tempt the kids.
Throw in some diced cooked carrots for color.  It’s all yum.

I keep ground cumin in my pantry, but if you’re out, no worries. Use chili powder or oregano or basil.  Or not.


1 c diced onion (1 cup)
2 T cooking oil
1 small can chopped green chilies (1/4 cup)
1 T minced garlic (2-3 cloves)

1 entire chicken breast, cooked and diced (2-3 cups)
1 quart cooked beans with broth (1 can beans with broth to make 4 cups)
1 t ground cumin
Salt to taste (1 tsp)

1. Saute first 4 ingredients in a hot kettle until onion is soft.
2. Add next four ingredients, stir and simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with hot bread (try the Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread!)

Field Pea Soup


20150330_184435Too tired to grocery shop and not in the mood for fast food, this is what’s for supper tonight. It’s a lighter soup for a warmer evening.

Yes, this soup is almost entirely from cans. But it’s probably still healthier than drive-thru.

indexCanned field peas are hard to find lately. These are *not* blackeyed nor crowder peas, but probably an Austrian winter pea, also known as a dun pea. They are currently my favorite legume and when I see them on the shelf I get half a dozen cans.  I particularly like Allens or Texas Fair.

2 c. sliced smoked sausage
1 c. chopped onion
1 can field peas with snaps
1 can chilies
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 t Cajun spice mix
1 t cumin

Saute the sausage and onion together in a small amount of water until the onion is soft. Before lowering heat, add tomatoes and chilies and stir well for a couple of minutes to prevent sticking. Lower heat and add peas, broth and spices. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Do a taste check before adding additional salt or spice. Both the sausage and the peas will add salt and occasionally chilies will add a little fire.

Serves four.

Sweet Potato Pecan Bread by the Harris Sisters


20150213_183339I probably knew what I was doing when I bought a 3# bag of sweet potatoes. I’m not sure I knew what I was doing when I baked them all at the same time.

I got tired of having them one at a time as a side with dinner. So tonight I mashed up all the rest of them and made this bread.

Oh, my goodness, it smells like a party in my kitchen. Of course I didn’t follow the recipe to the letter.  I added raisins to the batter and skimped on the sugar in the batter, and then doused it with a lemon glaze when it came out of the oven.

And it’s what’s for dinner tonight, with a glass of Earl Grey iced tea.  Life is good.


simplest loaf cake by Dorie Greenspan


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and generously butter an 8x4x2–inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity). In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Whisk the eggs, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla together until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Finally, pour in the oil and use the whisk to gently but thoroughly fold it into the batter.

3. Put the batter in the loaf pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.

Serves 8. Per serving: 360 calories, 44g carbs, 5g protein, 18g fat, 85mg cholesterol.

Lemon Coconut Bread Pudding



lemon, coconut, buttermilk, etc.

My little kitchen gets so hot that I had to come up with something that would bake quickly when I was craving something lemon-coconut.

Since all lemons are not created equal, you can add the glaze as you wish.  Mine came out pretty tart, so I dumped in the whole batch.


1 small sourdough baguette — about 6-8 cups of bread chunks
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1/4 c lemon juice
1 c coconut
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 c soft brown sugar (not packed)

Preheat oven to 325.

Grease or oil spray a 2 qt baking dish.

In a large bowl, break up the bread into 1″ chunks. I prefer tearing the bread to cutting it with a knife.  The irregular pieces soak up the liquids better, I think, and make a nice texture for the pudding.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and then add buttermilk and lemon juice and toss.

Add coconut and mix well.

Allow 5 minutes or so for the bread and coconut to moisten.

Pour melted butter over the bread and then sprinkle with the brown sugar.  Toss well, just until brown sugar is dissolved. Spoon into baking dish.

Cover and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until top starts to brown.  Time isn’t exact — it depends on the softness of the bread you started with.

This results in a very moist bread pudding. If you like a firmer pudding, leave in another 5 minutes.


Heat 2 T butter with 2 T milk in a 1-quart bowl until butter is melted. You can do this in the hot oven or in the microwave.  Then stir in 1-2 cups powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want.  Pour over the hot pudding and toss briefly, or serve alongside as a sauce.

Lemon Coconut Tea Loaf


20140303_131914Make this when there are other people in the house
o you won’t just eat the entire thing.

Preheat oven to 350.

2 eggs
1/2 c oil
1/2 milk
2 t lemon juice
1-1/2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1 t BP
1/2 c chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 c grated coconut

With a hand mixer gently beat the eggs, add oil and mix, add milk and mix, add lemon and mix.

I used an old-fashioned non-electric mixer for this. It keeps the batter from becoming too frothy.

Sift the dry ingredients together and stir into the liquids with a wooden paddle, then stir in the nuts and coconut.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

While loaf is baking, make glaze.

1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 T lemon juice
milk if needed

Stir lemon juice into sugar and then add milk one T at a time until glaze is runny enough to pour.

Run a knife down the sides of the pan and punch holes in the loaf every 2-3 inches. Spoon glaze over top of loaf and let sit for 20 minutes or as long as you can stand it. Pop loaf out onto wax paper and close edges unless you plan to cut it right away.

*Note: wax paper is easier to unwrap than plastic wrap or foil. The acid from the lemon will also break down the foil and no one likes it when that happens.

You can store in a plastic bag or foil to keep it moist, but ours won’t last long enough to dry out.

Asparagus Casserole


My daughter and I gave up everything with MSG — I mean, it’s hard enough to stay awake after Thanksgiving dinner — so no more Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. This takes a little longer but is so much better.

2 cans asparagus spears
1 recipe white sauce (2 T butter, 2 T flour, 1 cup milk, salt)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup grated cheese — your favorite
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
2 T melted butter

Drain the asparagus and spread evenly in a greased Pyrex dish. Make your white sauce and while still hot, stir in the mushrooms and cheese. When cheese has melted, pour sauce over asparagus. Top with chopped egg. Toss crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over asparagus. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until casserole bubbles.

You cannot mess this up unless you accidentally use sugar instead of salt or you set the thing on fire.

You can substitute the asparagus liquid for part of the milk, you can omit the cheese, the eggs and/or the cracker crumbs. It really is just about the asparagus and the sauce.

I think the original recipe had pimento, but all the stores in Memphis are out of pimento and have been for a while. There must have been a pimento workers strike somewhere….