I devour books, but I'm pretty choosy about what I read. I love classics, I don't believe most best-sellers ought to be, and no abridged books and no exceptions.
My husband also loves a good book. He has a beastly commute — around an hour and a half each way most days each week — so he relies on audiobooks to keep him sane. Although he is well read (or well listened, as the case may be) he has missed out on many books that I think of as obligatory; everything Bronte, most Dickens, Hawthorne, Eliot, Cooper, Cather, et al. Until a couple of years ago, he hadn't read the "Chronicles of Narnia." Gasp!
It is a wonderful thing that my husband is able to use all that time on the road to connect with all these books. There's only one problem. My husband is hard of hearing. This leads to some hilarious misunderstandings.
When my darling announced that he was about to start the Narnia series, I was thrilled. The boys and I quizzed him on where he was in the books every time he came home. We had a great time discussing the stories.
One day, while everyone was discussing the stories, I got a little distracted. I was half paying attention and realized I heard him saying the words "Weepy Cheeks" repeatedly. I looked to the kids for a clue. They looked confused. I looked at my husband and said, "'Weepy cheeks'? What do you mean?" He said, "You know ¦ the valiant mouse. Weepy Cheeks. Cute little Weepy Cheeks."
I suppressed a giggle and said, "Do you mean Reepicheep?"
He insisted, "No! I mean Weepy Cheeks. The mouse with his weepy little cheeks."
It went on for a while like this and ended only when we retrieved our copy of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" from the shelves and showed him Reepicheep in black and white. My husband acceded good-naturedly, but was disappointed. "Oh man? That just changed the entire story for me. I'm going to need to re-listen to the whole thing!"
God love him.
The point is this. Sometimes things get a bit lost in translation. So many potentially good dishes are muddied and confused when put into a slow cooker and left alone for hours. They leave you with weepy cheeks and nothing valiant for all the time you spent sniffing at the tantalizing air.
This recipe is an exception.
Slow-Cooker Honey Sesame Pork
3 lbs. boneless pork sirloin chops (between ¾ and 1 inch thick)
Salt and pepper
¾ c. honey
½ c. soy sauce
½ c. minced onion
¼ c. plus 2 T. ketchup
1 T. canola oil
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. minced or grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¾ t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. cornstarch
¼ c. water
Hot cooked rice
Scallions, thinly sliced
Very lightly season the pork chops with salt and pepper and arrange them evenly in the slow cooker.
Whisk the honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, canola and sesame oils, ginger, garlic and pepper flakes together in a mixing bowl and pour over the pork. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the pork is tender and cooked through.
Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the pork to a rimmed plate or bowl and cover lightly with foil, leaving the pan juices in the slow cooker.
Stir the cornstarch into the water with a fork or small whisk until dissolved. Whisk the mixture into the pan juices in the slow cooker. Recover the slow-cooker and turn the heat to high. Let it cook and thicken for 15 minutes.
Carefully transfer the pork back into the slow-cooker. Serve the pieces of pork over the hot cooked rice, spoon the sauce over the pork and garnish with sesame seeds and scallions.
• • •
While the slow cooker is perking away with your dinner, you're going to have a little free time. Why not spend it getting a little ahead on your other cooking and whip up a quick batch of Ranch oyster crackers. You can keep them on hand for snacks or use them as croutons on salads or soups. I dare you to resist these tasty little crackers!
Ranch Oyster Crackers
1 (10-oz.) bag oyster crackers
2 T. canola oil
2 T. ranch dressing mix (1 packet)
½ t. dill weed
¼ t. garlic powder
¼ t. onion powder
½ t. celery seed
½ t. lemon salt
½ t. ground black pepper
½ t. raw or white sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients — except the oyster crackers — until smooth. Pour in the oyster crackers and gently toss until everything is evenly coated.
Transfer the crackers to a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, stirring every three minutes, until the coating is dry and the crackers are hot.
Allow the crackers to cool completely on the tray before transferring to an airtight container to store at room temperature. These will store well for up to two weeks. If they begin to get stale, you can recrisp them in a 350° oven for five minutes. Eat as a snack or use as croutons.
For a heartier helping of Foodie With Family, go to www.foodiewithfamily.com or Rebecca's new blog, www.icouldeatthat.com. Write to Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your adventures and favorite recipes.