Using what your mama gave you

Humor me for a moment while I make this analogy between cooking and writing. A good writer has the ability to string words together to create a story. A good cook can take individual ingredients and combine them to make a meal.

Perhaps Maya Angelou said it best in this New York Times article “Ignoring the Rules”

“You need the best ingredients when you’re going to cook,” she says. “The writer has to take some nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, et cetera, and boil them up in such a way that you can throw them against the wall and they’ll bounce.”

“When you cook,” she says, “put all these things together in a way that the person who eats says, ‘Mmm, this is really good.’ ”

I liken my writing for magazines and newspapers to following a recipe; using specific ingredients, in certain proportions and following an ordered list of tasks. Blogging, on the other hand, is like opening up the fridge and seeing what there is to work with. It’s about using what your mama gave you.

Two weeks ago, I realized I needed to use up the rest of the pesto I made in September. I also had four pork chops in the freezer, potatoes to use up, and some Pecorino Romano cheese leftover from the pesto project. This is what I came up with.

4 pork chops

1 cup of Italian breadcrumbs

½ cup of shredded parmesan cheese

½ cup basil pesto

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in one bowl and put the pesto in another bowl. Pat the pork chops dry and then dredge them in the pesto. Try to get a good thick coating on them and then coat them in the breadcrumb and cheese mixture.

I cooked the pork chops on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reached about 145 degrees. Then I took them out and let them rest. I served this with Pecorino Romano garlic mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

In hindsight, I realize that I need to invest in some sort of meat cooking rack that can go in the oven. The pork chops were delicious, but the breading would have cooked up crispier on both sides if I had a way to elevate the meat from the baking sheet. Maybe I’ll ask my mother for one this Christmas.


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