Orange Marmalade Glazed Pork Chops

Here’s a quick and easy way to dress up your pork chops.  Please forgive me for these terrible pictures but the lens kept fogging up on the camera tonight!  For this recipe I used thin sliced pork chops (because they cook faster and I had a hangry family to feed) but you can use a thicker cut.  Season the meat with herb de provence and sea salt.Pork #1

Then brown your chops in melted butter and/or olive oil.  I use a combination of both so that I get the best of both worlds – butter and olive oil!  Heavenly.

Are your chops lightly browned?  Now, it’s time to crack open a cold one.  A brewski.  Pour in about 1/3 of the bottle of beer. I used Amstel Light in this pic but any lager or pilsner will work. Don’t worry you can drink the rest while you fix dinner…one of the perks of cooking.    Pork #3

Let the meat simmer for a few minutes in the beer and then transfer to a plate.  Your chops should still be a little bit bloody and not quite done.  We will add them back to the pan to finish cooking once the glaze is ready.

And now on to the glaze.  Add about 3 tablespoons of Etta Mae Gourmet Orange Marmalade to the pan.  Pork #4Stir into the meat juices and scrape up those lovely bits that are stuck to the pan.  Cook the mixture down for a few minutes.  It should be thickening.  You can add the pork chops back to the pan now and finish cooking. Voila!  Glazed pork chops!Pork #6

Apples in January? Yes, if you hurry

Los Rios Rancho apple picThis past weekend was a beautiful, sunny one with the temperatures ranging in the mid 70s. Yes, this is January in Southern California. Plus it was a holiday weekend! My husband and I decided it was the perfect time to go check out the Wildlands Conservancy hiking trails at Los Rios Rancho in Oak Glen. If you’re not familiar with the Inland Empire area, Oak Glen is a small community located a few miles past Yucaipa in the San Bernardino mountains and its best known for its apples. Oak Glen is my apple mecca. Each fall I make at least one trip up there to purchase apples, fresh pressed apple cider, and sample the abundance of apple-flavored goodies. Apple nirvana.

I knew apple season was winding down so I was curious to see what varieties were available.  I envisioned a few bags of bruised and browned leftovers but that was not the case.  We visited Parrish Ranch and Los Rios Rancho late in the afternoon and both locations had a small offering of their late season apples.  I sampled the Granny Smith, Arkansas Black, Stayman Winesap, and Starkey Delicious at Rileys at Los Rios before buying a bag of each to make apple butter.  I find that a mix of different apples (both sweet and tart) makes a better butter.  Can’t wait to see how this new batch will turn out!

According to the Los Rios Rancho website, apple season extends from August to November.  The peak is in late September when a more extensive selection of varieties is available.  However, if you still have a craving for some crisp, locally grown apples hurry on up to Oak Glen to grab some late-season pickings.

Have you ever been to Oak Glen during the height of apple season?  Where is your favorite orchard?

Here’s a picture of the Apple Butter I made with the fall apples – Gravenstein, Spartans and Jonathans.  Yum!

Apple Butter

Apple Butter

Reading labels

Happy New Year!  Perhaps, like me, you resolved to eat healthier in 2015.  How is that going? An essential part of eating better is reading labels and ingredients.  How can you eat better if you don’t know what you’re eating, right?  So I decided to check out the jelly competition and see what ingredients the other jam-makers are using.  I noted the ingredients used in a well-known and much-beloved jam sold in most major grocery stores on the West Coast.  The first ingredient (thankfully) was fruit but the next items were high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup.  Fruit pectin and citric acid were also added.  Now pectin and citric acid are both naturally occurring substances and essential to making jam; however, to make jam on a bulk scale they must be added.  Pectin is the thickening agent.   I find that I need to use much more sugar when I use store-bought pectin to make jam but on the plus side, I get a greater yield of jam.   Hmmm….but it’s all about the flavor, right?  Absolutely!  So I focus on the flavor.  I believe that if you want great-tasting jam, you need to start with sweet, locally grown fruit.  I cook the fruit down so that you can actually taste the berries (or apples or oranges) and not a spoonful of fruit-flavored sugar.  Yes, Etta Mae Gourmet jams and preserves still have sugar but you won’t see high fructose corn syrup listed on my label.  Enjoy!

I have been back in the kitchen experimenting with some new flavors.  I will post updates soon! Here’s to a sweet year!1405484616091