Saturday, April 12, 2008

Returning To An Old Friend

A recent Spring blizzard knocked out power to our area. We were left in the dark overnight and most of a day, but with my Little House on the Prairie skills, we survived it easily. When we purchased the house, I insisted on a gas stove. I remembered those nasty winter storms of my childhood and was always glad that something could be tossed into my mother's gas oven. My parents had their own well, and with no electricity for the pump, only had water that was created by melting snow (please, none of the yellow stuff), but we did have the comfort of a warm meal and the little warmth that the oven provided for the house. My own gas stove did the same trick for us.

I baked cookies from premade dough when the power first went out. It was a novelty to work by candle light as I slid the cookie sheets into the oven. I shone the flashlight deep into the dark recesses of the hot oven as I pulled the warm rounds of peanut butter and chocolate chunks out with an oven mitt. Later, when my insomnia was raging and the rest of the house was still and quiet (except for the roaring winds and snow outside), I sat on the floor in front of that still warm oven. Wrapped in a blanket, flickering candle beside me (along with a glass of milk and a freshly baked cookie), I exchanged text messages with friends across the country as I flipped through cooking magazines and dusty cookbooks.

It probably doesn't surprise you that the next morning, I pulled a printout from my stack of "to-try" recipes that were gleaned online and threw together a beef stroganoff type dish to once again slow cook in the oven and take the chill off of the now rapidly cooling air of the kitchen. I putzed around and boiled water in my tea kettle to wash dishes, then gathered another stack of cookbooks and retreated to my bed. My down comforter was warm and cozy as I searched out recipes to use the ingredients that were on hand in my fridge and freezer.

I must admit that I have really become reliant on several recipe websites in recent times. A click of the mouse, the quick typing of a key word or ingredient, and I have multitudes of options for dinner right before my eyes. Feeling the paper of the pages of the cookbooks between my fingers was like returning to an old friend. I used to spend hours looking through cookbooks, bookmarking possibilities, reading about cooking techniques and ingredient pairings, creating menus in my mind, and falling into a complete la-la land of food. The power outage returned that to me.

Electricity was restored before I had a chance to create more meals with my Little House on the Prairie mindset. There was no need to boil water for cleaning dishes (and thankfully, not for filling the bathtub for when Hubby returned from the farm). I could use my food processor and didn't have to check the temp of the fridge to see if the milk should be shifted outside to keep cool. But, I am going to hang on to that old love made new. I am going to shake the dust from my cookbook collection and try some of those recipe gems instead of always sticking with my high tech options.

Tonight's dinner was created from a mix of old and new, so to speak. Seasoned Pork Roast with Mushroom Sauce and Sugar Snap Peas with Pine Nuts and Garlic came from my cookbook collection. Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes arrived from an online source. Instead of reading a sheet of paper that was tossed on the kitchen table, I propped up thick books taking care not to splatter the pages. I don't know how to explain it, but the meal felt more complete and solid coming from a sturdy book instead of a scrap of copy paper. I know it is silly, but it was like returning to an old friend that happily helped me put a great meal On My Plate.

Seasoned Pork Roast with Mushroom Sauce

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, crushed
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
3/4 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4 lb) boneless pork loin roast, rolled and tied
Mushroom Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, sliced
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F
Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.
Coat the roast with the spices, patting to keep on meat.
Insert a meat thermometer in the roast and place the roast on a rack in a shallow baking pan.
Roast for 15 minutes.
Reduce the temperature to 325F and continue to roast until the center temperature registers 150F; about 1 1/2 hours.
Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Serve with mushroom sauce.
Mushroom sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium skillet. Saute the garlic and shallot for 1 minute.
Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until they start to brown.
Add the wine and 1/2 cup of chicken stock and simmer until most of the liquid evaporates.
Add the chicken stock and soy sauce.
Bring to a boil.
Stir in the cornstarch mixture and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, if desired. (Serves 6)


  1. Very romantic food posting ;)
    That pork looks divine!

  2. Love your Little House mindset! Nice food, nice blog, wish I was that capable in the kitchen.

  3. Where have you been? Your last post was April 12th. It's July 2-th. Not much cooking these days?

  4. Sorry to be MIA. Life just eats me up sometimes. I hope to still make occassional posts. I have some things in mind to share...just need to find the time.


Related Posts with Thumbnails