Simplicity is … WAS … underrated

I have this delightful stack of cookbooks that sits in the bookshelf right outside of my kitchen. They make me so happy and there’s hardly an evening that doesn’t involve me rifling through them to find something delicious to make with my refrigerator’s current bounty.

The one I turn to most frequently is this:

Oh, it’s fabulous. Everything you could dream of, tucked between the shockingly orange cover. And while I occasionally can muster the energy to cook one of its labor-intensive delights, some nights I just don’t have the energy (or breadth of ingredients!) to do it.

Last night was – as most nights these days are – supposed to be all about the GRE, which means no fancy food for me. Or so I thought!

I had pork chops in the freezer and (hooray!) didn’t need to worry about leftovers because the potato soup I made Sunday promises to provide lunches for days. I scanned Bon Appetit for pork chops, scoured my cabinets for dried bing cherries and (shockingly, right?) not having them, I returned my orange-covered friend to the bookcase. I went through 3 more cookbooks, each promising a tasty variation of pork chop if only I had hours of time or several exotic ingredients.

I was sad. I was on the brink of making (yet another!) shepherd’s pie or stir fry, when I spotted this well-loved-but-less-utilized-friend:

I.LOVE.THIS.BOOK. I love it. I love it so much. It’s a beautiful expression of all the things I want my food and my kitchen to represent. But as much as I love it, I don’t pick it up as much as I should. Why?

Because I’m obsessed with being awesome.

Seriously, I am. And you are too … so don’t think I’m being all revelatory here, because the honest truth is that we all just want to be awesome, and want everything that we do/create/express to be awesome too.

And so often I convince myself that my food needs ME to be awesome. Like these gorgeous summer squashes or heritage-breed pigs really need ME to make them taste any better than God himself intended them to taste before my pretentious little paws and cookbook-dreams covered them with so many spices and sauces that they were hardly anything like what they started out to be.

But Alice Waters convinced me otherwise last night. Or rather, she reminded me that good food is just that: good food. And I don’t need to go mess it up all the time – sometimes, I should just celebrate it for what it is.

So her 4-ingredient pork chop recipe stunned me: pork chops, salt, pepper, olive oil.

WOAH. Surely it has to be fancier than that? Nope, she says … but if you really want to “kick it up,” you can add herb butter.

Herb butter? Really? I can do that, I thought.

And oh, my life may never be the same. 30 minutes later, I had stunning pork chops and roasted summer squash and green tomatoes swimming in pools of sage butter that made me swoon and prompted Price to say, “butter has got to be like the best thing ever.”

Simplicity used to be overrated when it came to cooking in this house, but not anymore. Sure, there will be days that let me spend hours preparing delightful, complicated dishes in my little kitchen. But Monday nights are not for that. Most nights are not for that. And I just have to swallow my pride and remember that good food is good food, dressed up or dressed down. So as long as I’m buying good ingredients, simplicity will serve me well!

Pan-Fried Pork Chops with Sage Butter

– Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

– Heat several counts of olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.

– Cook pork chops on one side for about 5 minutes, until brown. Then flip:

– Cook until pork chops are done, about 5 more minutes.

And the sage butter (h-e-a-v-e-n-l-y doesn’t begin to describe it):

– 1/2 stick butter softened

– garlic powder

– rubbed sage

– Mix together and sneak a bite … your tastebuds will love you:

– Place each pork chop on a plate and top with a (large) spoonful of sage butter. It will melt before your eyes, leaving a puddle of sagey-deliciousness at the top of your chop:

We used the leftover sage butter to perk up the roasted summer squash served alongside the pork chop, but you can easily save it for another (simple!) meal.

I guess all I can say is Bon appetit?

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2 thoughts on “Simplicity is … WAS … underrated

  1. I agree with Price – butter is the best thing ever.

    I always flip through that Alice Walters cookbook when I visit Elissa, dreaming of the things that I could do with it. I made quiche for lunch yesterday (I cheated, and used store-bought pie crust – not as good, but saves lots of time…), and I remembered why I love to cook so much. I haven’t cooked in a while, other than the curry I made at Lissa’s (and that was a somewhat stressful experience), and I’ve been really quite lazy in the kitchen. It was nice to get back, and remember that it’s something that makes my soul happy.

    Also, it was lovely to see you at the Perch! Hopefully Mark can come with me next time, or if he can’t, we can at least see each other for more than an hour or so at lunch 🙂

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