I have to share this hard to believe story with my fellow foodies. My friend, let’s call him Mark, confided in me the most peculiar aspect of his childhood. Mark knew what he would be eating every day of his childhood. His mother cooked the exact same thing everyday of the week his entire life in his parents home. This took a while to sink into my foodie soul and conscious. Mark had cereal for breakfast seven days of the week. He had bologna or turkey sandwich, only, everyday for lunch. Not even an apple. They never had fruit in their house. Vegetables only came from a can.
Monday: frank and beans.
Tuesday: mac and cheese (from a box, mind you).
Wednesday: chili from a can with fritos
Thursday: hamburger on a bun with some store purchased coleslaw
Friday: fish filet with canned corn
Saturday: hot dog and chips
Sunday: Frozen pizza
No variation to the menu, ever. It was the same menu every week, week in and week out. It never changed his entire childhood. They didn’t even cook something different on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving, no turkey. I have a hard time believe that these people are not missing some kind of gene for passion. How did they even find each other to marry?
Mark never went to a restaurant with his parents. They thought it was a waste of money. Mark loved eating over at his friend’s house, but his brother feared it and would avoid it at all cost. Mark loved the food he was served at the dorm cafeteria when he went off to college. He grow up with such a disconnect from food as pleasure, he was insatiable. He would gorge himself on fresh fruit and would invent a new salad everyday from the array at the salad bar. The first time he had pot roast and mashed potatoes, he had three helpings. He went home with a friend for Thanksgiving and he had his first Thanksgiving meal. He was simply God smacked. Mark said he barely spoke a word at that first Thanksgiving meal and he had to do everything in his power not to cry. He had only seen pictures of such an event.
Mark’s parents have never been overweight or even fluctuated a few pounds in their weight. They never ate out at a restaurant. That is a waste of money. They never travel to see their adult children. They have never have ever change their diet to this day. They are not close with their children.
Is the feeding our family the first way we show them love? How we nurture their soul? How we connect with people? Certainly, this family did not use food to celebrate, console, or masque any emotions that pop up… now everyone in the room turns and looks at me. Okay, okay, guilty as charged.
Bless my father for raising me around some of the most interesting chefs and restaurant people in the US. Bless my mother. Her own passion for food and desire not to eat the same thing everyday, lead to a childhood with an amazing exploration of the world’s cuisines coming from my mother’s kitchen. Pork chops and sauerkraut was something that was an event in our household when I was growing up. The smell of this simmering would make all of us come out of our rooms and gather at the dinner table.
There was a point that my mother was cooking for 9 people everyday and she would cook this in the electric fry pan. It really helped free up the oven for the rest of the meal. I am a big slow cooker fan. My mom would serve this with mashed potatoes. I have a Czech friend who would simmer dumplings in the sauerkraut while it cooked. I love that idea.
My version is easy, stick to your ribs fare, but on top of it, it is healthy homemade food. I spent ten minutes putting it together in the morning and we have a hearty dinner in the evening.
It is the morning…
Pull out your slow cooker and a skillet.
1. Season 4-6 pork loin chops with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a skillet with some olive oil.
3. Sear the pork chops on both sides. Not cooking, just browning the outside of chop.
4. In the slow cooker add:
2 cups sauerkraut, that had been rinsed
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 apple, grated
1/2 cup carrot, grated
2 gloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T. brown sugar (optional)
5. Place the chops on top, cover and set slow cooker for 6-8 hours.
6. Serve to your family around the dinner table and enjoy each other.
Mark’s brother never developed a taste for fruit and vegetables, but owns a diner. He married one of the waitresses are raising their child in the business. Mark, is an avid runner and his partner is a party planner. They have huge Thanksgiving gatherings and Mark does all the cooking.
The simple act of gathering around the table to share a meal is an important thing. It is love. Please join me anytime around my table.
Pull up a chair, Elizabeth