May is a special month for me for a few reasons. One, it is the month my daughter Sarah was born, close enough to Mother's Day to qualify as a gift. And she was born on the birthday of one of my oldest and best friends, Robin - who actually decided to have children after she and her husband met Sarah before she was a year old; this little midget walking and talking like some Buddha Yoda. Robin had come to teach me to crochet since I couldn't follow her written directions and they were in the area...1000 miles off their course, but that's how best friends are. Being left handed is what I blamed it on...as well as some other things I don't do well. Oh, don't even ask, it's insignificant that I can't add, subtract, mulitply or divide. In numbers. Hey, it got Robin to me, and I did learn to crochet as a bonus.
The other night Robin called me from the home of another one of my old (OLD! dang!) friends. Horses in the kitchen Jane (which is how I will now address her). Jane is one of the coolest women I've ever known. I started thinking that when we were at a high school football game - I think it was football (ok, I'm not real big on organized sports). We were hanging around the periphery doing something not really naughty, but most likely breaking a rule. Jane reaches down her shirt and pulls out a switchblade to show me. I was undone...how cool was THAT??? I even considered wearing a bra if that was what you could keep in one! Here is a woman that as a girl could have posed for Botticelli, and she pulls out the most awesome knife...not some West Side Story knuckle thing, but an elegant, clever and beautiful knife. Oops, I'm going on a tangent, aren't I? Ok. Back to May (but hey girl, I love you so much and want to meet all of your horses sometime soon. Happy May Day!). Oh, did I mention Jane is also a Master Gardener? I want to be her when I grow up. Nah, I don't have to...she's enough.
Ah, May Day. Here we are, already in May! I am losing more and more of the relevance of time (and easily blame it entirely on Culebra), but I do know it's Spring because the island won't let me ignore it. Critter babies are being born and plant life is budding, as the natural world, despite the incessant banging of machines, is rising up and singing with the bits of rain we've had, while turtles come back, captive to their nature, to lay eggs on a beach where years before they skittered into the sea; defying all odds,they made it fast and far enough to return and repeat the miracle. He who has eyes to see...and all of that.
What's in that...Friday. Due to one daughter's addicted influence I've been reading a LOT of food blogs, as I've mentioned. One theme has lightly risen up about a fun sort of challenge that involves cooking with what is already in your pantry, cupboards, freezers and fridge. Some are very serious in an upbeat way, making it a few weeks' long bit, recording what you've used. You can't prepare for it, you just have to READYSETGO. So, while I am not going to do anything of serious note on that, I did it would be fun to try it for today. Here we go!
I grabbed (gently) a bunch of stuff that seemed a possible meal union...two leftover porkchops, a bag of corn I was wishing was peas, tomatoes out of the garden, and a packet of Roland Lo Mein noodles, a favorite:, inexpensive, versatile, organic and yummy. No guilt pasta!
So what to season with? I got some basil, chives, garlic tops, an aji cabellero pepper (that little pepper heated up a LOT of food!), racao (PR cilantro), and thyme - and that pretty tomato - oh, I ended up tossing in a few bits of rosemary as well (lucky for the meal, I didn't throw in stuff I don't even know what it is; I was on a 'damn, my garden is amazing!' roll)
Of course, there were those other things I thought could help keep this from being bland (you get an idea of where my *bland* bar is...raise it a few notches and you'll be close). Part of a left over red onion, some pretty dulce (sweet) peppers that look like they should be hot, a heavy handful of the corn.
I prepped everything, as shown, and put the noodles in boiling water. The second they were done which was about 4 minutes, I ran cold water over them, swished them around and put them in a colander to drain. On to the rest.
The skillet ready for everything else. Ready means a dollop of olive oil. That got hot fast and in went all of the ingredients in the bowl, including the tomatoes on the board, but minus the pork. When the onions were almost flopsy, I took it off the heat, tossed it in a bowl and threw the now thinly sliced pork chops into the skillet, which still held olive oil along with the juices from the tomato, and primed with the other herbs for more flavor.
I turned up the heat and put in a good strong dash of a Goya product we have here called Mojo Criollo, Yes, it's cheating but I didn't happen to have a load of citrus around, and it's good, so it works. I just have to add, I love Goya products and one of the joys of living here is that we get a really good price on all things Goya. We don't actually GET all things Goya because they distribute to markets of biggest demand. Example: in Mexico you can buy this gigantico bag of dried peppers for practically nothing. Here...not happening. Goya rocks anyway.
The pork, which I'd already cooked once, only took a few minutes to heat through. I gave the noodles a second cold rinse and drained them well, adding just the tinest amount of olive oil. On top of them went half of the onion/herb/tomato/onion etc. mixture. On top of that I put the pork in a radiating circle (for you, dear reader! As I am my only company tonight, I would have probably eaten half of it while everything else was sitting there. Dedication, it's a beautiful thing) and topped it with the rest of the veggie mix. I mixed the juices from the veggie/herb saute and the pork re-heat together over heat for a minute or so, to pour over the whole put together all of it. And...there you go.
Try it. I bet you have things in your cupboards and fridge you will be surpised (and in some cases, horrified) to find. And don't cheat, try to make something special and attractive and delicious. Let me know what you come up with! What's in YOUR kitchen?
What I came up with is a meal that looks like a Cinco de Mayo dance dress worn by an Italian. And...it tastes good!