Recipe–Rebecca on Ree–Sweet Lime Pickles and Pork Chops with Apples and Grits

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JULY 20, 2012–SWEET LIME PICKLES, AND PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES AND GRITS

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  If Peter Piper picked a peck. . .what the heck is a peck?

A peck is 1/4 of a bushel.

(image from here.)

This is a bushel.

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And this is 1/4 of a bushel–or a peck of to-be-pickled cucumbers.  SWEET LIME PICKLES (pg. 280) are a two-day process.  Let’s start.  (sorry, I couldn’t find a link to Ree Drummond’s SWEET LIME PICKLES recipe, but this one is close.)

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The first thing we need to clear up is the “lime” in sweet lime pickles does not look like this.

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It looks like this.  In this post I talk about lime, so I won’t go over it again.  Basically, lime keeps the pickles crunchy. 

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PW suggested that the cucumbers be cut into 1/2 inch slices.  That sounded a little thick to me, but I did cut them 1/2 an inch thick, and we have enjoyed them all winter.  The cucumbers are then soaked in a lime/water solution overnight.  The next day, the cucumbers are rinsed three times.  The reason being, “This washing is very important because lime is very alkaline (think base) and it is essential to remove the lime to be sure the pickle is safely acidified.”  (from here.)  Remember Chemistry 101?  The pH level of a solution is the measure of acidity.  On the ph chart Acid is at one end and Base/Alkaline solutions are at the other.  Lemon juice has a pH level of 2, while distilled water has a pH level of 7.  Bacteria like certain pH levels and dislike other levels.  By changing the pH level of your canning solution, you can help prevent bacteria growth.  Lime makes the vinegar added to pickles less acidic.  Less acidic = better environment for bacteria growth.  Bacteria growth = spoilage.  SO rinse the cucumber three times.

(image from here.)

The same principle applies when you add lemon juice to sliced apples to keep them from turning brown (oxidation) or citric acid to strawberries and avocado to keep them from turning brown.  Fruit Fresh works great on fruits, but it does contain sugar (dextrose–a.k.a glucose), so it tastes funny when added to guacamole–citric acid or lemons work better.

Bleach is at the opposite side of the pH chart as lemon juice.  Bleach has a pH level of 13 out of the possible 14.  So bleach can also be used to kill bacteria, but unlike lemon juice, it doesn’t taste good in food.  Just be sure you aren’t using  Scented Clorox Bleach or Splashless Clorox Bleach when you are trying to kill germs, as they don’t.  You must use Regular Clorox Bleach.  Make sure the label says, “Disinfectant” or “Kills Bacteria” on the label.

(Note:  Strictly speaking the terms alkaline and base aren’t completely interchangeable–but close enough for our kitchen class.  Also strictly speaking the pH level of bleach prevents bacteria from growing; it doesn’t kill bacteria.  Bleach kills bacteria by messing with the protein molecules in bacteria.)  So bleach both prevents bacteria from growing and kills it once it starts to grow.  Kitchen Chemistry 101 is over.  You are dismissed.  Quiz on Friday.

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Now, let’s take a break from the kitchen and sit a spell on the front porch with our neighbor Mrs. Thelma.  I am so glad that we did “sit a spell”.  I didn’t know that the summer of 2012 would be our last one with Mrs. Thelma.  This past fall, she was admitted to the hospital, and hasn’t been able to live on her own since.  She has been in and out of the hospital, and now is gone.  I think her son moved her closer to his place, but we miss her.  Just yesterday Eloise saw her car in the driveway and asked to go over for a visit.  She knocked on the door, but nobody answered.  I need to get her son’s phone number to see how she is doing.

Lunch was PB&J made by Baseball Boy, and then we got out the mini air-inflated pool to cool off.  The girls wanted to learn to crochet, so they went back over to Mrs. Thelma’s porch.  I wonder where they will sit this summer?  Eloise receive some needed one-on-one attention from Mrs. Thelma.  I could count on Mrs. Thelma and Eloise’s visits to last for 1-2 hours. One to two hours where no one is saying to Eloise, “Not now,” “I’m busy”, “In a minute”,  “Tell me later,” . . .

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Fried Apples and Grits are Southern Food.  In this Whit’s End house, we love them for breakfast.  Now if we were true Southerners, we would add a pork chop–yes! for breakfast!  If you don’t believe me check out the Country Boy Breakfast Platter on the Cracker Barrel menu.  Pioneer Woman serves her PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES AND GRITS (pg. 200) for supper, and “that be alright by me.”

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Start by browning the pork chops in butter over high heat.  If you can do two things at the same time, chop up some apples.  (You don’t need to worry about adding lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing (turning brown), as they are going to brown in butter.)

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Now if you can do three things at the same time, start the grits.  Saute up some chopped onions and pieces of bacon until the onion is translucent.  My friend Nina from Florida told me that bacon won’t get crispy if it is cooked with onions, but that you have to separate them for crispy bacon.  I think she is right.  In this dish, it is okay, since the bacon isn’t going to be crispy in a dish of wet grits anyway.  I would love for some folks to weigh in on this bacon-n-onion issue.

When the onions are translucent add 2 cups of grits, 4 cups of chicken broth, and 2 cups of heavy cream.  Of if you don’t want the additional fat grams, you can just add 6 cups of chicken broth (or even water in a pinch.)  Add the salt-n-peppah, and 1 1/2 cup of grated cheese before you transfer them to a serving bowl.  Grits thicken up as they cool, so leave them a little “runny” as they will firm up by the time they reach the table.

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When the pork chops are all browned, you can throw in the two sliced up apples.  Add 1/2 cup of wine and 2 table spoons of vinegar if you want them savory or just add the 3/4 cup of maple syrup if you prefer them sweet.  And if you want them sweet and savory add all three ingredients.  I didn’t have maple syrup, so I used some Peach Honey.  (Warning the recipe for Peach Honey comes with a death threat attached, so only read if you dare.)

Let the apple liquid come to a boil, then reduce the temperature to low, add the pork chops back to the pan, and let them finish cooking–10 – 20 minutes.

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Load up your Country Boy Platter and ring the dinner bell.  We be fix’n ta eat!

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I added a salad because it was summer, and because I had an avocado that I wanted to eat, and because I do try to serve balanced meals.  And by “balanced meals”, I don’t mean meals balanced on the knees dashing off to soccer practice–although we do that as well.

Thanks for cooking with me,

–rebecca

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COMMENTS:  I can’t do three things at the same time.  My grits got a little gummy as I let them thicken too much.  I loved the creamy taste of the 2 cups of cream in the grits, but realistically, I can’t cook them like that every time.  The fried apples and pork chop part of the meal was very easy and very tasty.  I think I could leave the chops and apples on the burner on low for a long time if I added a little more water.  This slow cook method wouldn’t allow me to go to a whole baseball game, but I might be able to slip out and pick up my boy from practice without worrying about my dinner burnings.  We already cooked apples and chops in this household, so this recipe already is in my “Cook Often List”

That be all folk.

Thanks fer stopp’n by.

s’long ya’ll.

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