I am fortunate to have some really wonderful women in my life, and after some reflection I realized they all share a special skill:
Each lady can cook like gangbusters!
Seriously, it’s a wonder I don’t weigh 300 pounds.
I’ve asked to join some of my girls in their kitchens and document them preparing a dish of their choosing. Much to my delight this has been met with enthusiasm and so, it begins!
First the Q&A:
How would you describe your cooking style?
Lackadaisical with spurts of creativity
Who are your cooking influences?
Google! Haha I don’t really have any influences, per se…
Tell me about your eating habits. Have they changed over the years?
After a lifetime of horrible allergies and chronic sinusitis, I discovered some research that linked diet to what I was suffering from. I had a test done at a naturopath to determine which foods create inflammation in my body. I was surprised to find out that I had very strong reactions to dairy, gluten, and eggs. In October, I cut all three from my diet. It hasn’t been easy or fun, and I miss my favorites (donuts and cheese, so sad!) HOWEVER I have not been sick ONCE since October!! This is amazing for me because I’ve been on a steady dose of antibiotics and allergy meds for the last decade, plus two sinus surgeries. I don’t take any medications for that now, and when I do have the occasional cheat I can feel very strongly how it negatively affects my body. I’m not one to jump on diet trends, but cutting dairy, gluten, and eggs from my diet has changed my life.
What would have for your last meal?
DONUTS AND CHEESE!
Now to the kitchen!
Ammo always listens to music when she cooks. We listened to one of her favorite Pandora stations as she prepared pork chops inspired by a Rachel Ray cooking show that featured steak seasoned with salt, pepper and brown sugar. The sides included Brussels sprouts, asparagus, smashed potatoes and “something made-up to go on top of the pork chops.”
She started with the smashed potatoes, which she originally saw on Pinterest, but added her own flair to make them hers. She had pre-prepped the potatoes before I arrived by boiling them with the skins on until soft, but not too soft. Small potatoes, such as fingerlings, work best for this dish, as does a hard flat metal spatula. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet and flatten potatoes as so:
Press, but don’t totally flatten or they will fall apart. Season with olive oil, dill weed, pepper and sea salt, “you almost can’t sprinkle on too much salt.” Ammo uses a particular salt recommended by her Naturopath that contains minerals normally removed in regular table salt. You can get it on Amazon as an add-on for $8.00.
Place the smashed potatoes in an oven heated to 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn over and add seasonings on the flipped side, then put back in the oven for another 15 minutes. “You want them really crunchy on the outside.” Flip again and back in the oven for 10 more minutes. Turn off oven and let them sit for 6 minutes.
While Ammo was preparing the potatoes she realized “[German explicative] I thought I thawed the pork chops, but I didn’t!” So she ran them under warm water for a bit and stuck them in the microwave.
Meanwhile she began preparing the asparagus and Brussels sprouts. She washed the asparagus and cut off the ends, then decided “just for fun, let’s put a little dressing on these” and marinated them with some zesty Italian!
Then she washed the Brussels sprouts, cut off the stumps, and cut a cross at the base of each.
Ammo melted two cubes of butter in a large pan and added the Brussels sprouts, gave the pan a little shake, added a bit of the Italian dressing, gave the pan a little shake, and cooked them until they had barely begun to brown (they were still crunchy). Then she poured them into a colander over the sink.
She added the asparagus to the same pan along with some water and repeated the same cooking process used with the sprouts, sans adding butter and dressing.
While the veggies were cooking Ammo got started on the pork chops. She stabbed them a few times, then rubbed them with brown sugar, salt and white pepper.
In case you were wondering, Ammo never measures anything.
They were cooked in olive oil over medium low heat and flipped a couple times until no pink remained.
Then inspiration struck. “What goes good with pork chops? Applesauce. Let’s do something outside the norm. A pear puree!”
With that she quartered and cored two Anjou pears, put them in a blender, added brown sugar, coconut oil and a little powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, “aaaaaaaaand chili powder.” With a little water to help get it going, it blended into a puree.
This meal came together like a dance. It was so fun watching Ammo cook! Between her no-measuring technique and spontaneous puree, I was totally impressed.
Doesn’t that look amazing? Just when I thought she was done, Ammo added a final touch. Her family doesn’t drink so on special occasions they get sparkling cider and pears.
Finally we ate! And it was wonderful! We were both pleasantly surprised by the puree, it complimented the pork chops perfectly. I also loved getting a little Ammo family history with the pear cocktail, that might have been the best part!
Nope. The best part was the eating.
Thanks Ammo for inviting me into your kitchen and for blowing my expectations right out of the water!