Labor Day, Schmabor Day

September 11, 2009 at 5:03 pm Leave a comment

sweet potato pancakes cropped   I sure hit a brick wall trying to find anybody interested in celebrating Monday, September 7th, as a holiday.  My husband and I ended up puttering about the house, doing mundane chores.  Research revealed that my vague notion of Labor Day as a post-WWII phenomenon meant to win favor with certain voters is only partially accurate, since the first Labor Day parade was held in honor of workers and labor organizations in New York City on September 5, 1882.  On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday, but the idea of having an extended weekend for one last trip to the cabin seems to have supplanted the original intent.

With no takers for a family cookout, I went trolling for ideas for the boneless pork chops that Cub Foods seems to offer at a perpetual “sale price,” and found inspiration on an unlikely – not to mention, competitor’s – web site:  Super Target dot something.  I was inspired to adapt their recipe to my audience, and the result was a dinner menu of Beer Braised Pork Chops,  Homemade Chunky Applesauce, Steamed Green Beans with Spiced Walnuts, and Sweet Potato Pancakes.  And in honor of my dear, departed Papa, whose birthday was September 6, a twist on his favorite cake came out as Pineapple Upside Down Sundaes.  Hardly traditional, but the preparation was a labor of love. 

If you can gather six people together for pork chops, gather together also:

1 TB butter                                            1 TB olive oil                          

6 boneless pork loin chops            12 oz fresh mushrooms  

3/4 C chopped onion                        2 large cloves garlic             

salt to taste                                            2 TB soy flour                         

12 oz  dark beer

Melt 1 tsp of the butter in a large non-stick frying pan.  Add 1 tsp olive of the oil and heat over medium, spreading with a spatula to coat the pan bottom.  Brown the pork chops on both sides and then remove them to a plate.  Add the remaining 2 tsp butter and 2 tsp olive oil to the hot pan along with the mushrooms, onions, and garlic, and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the onion is golden and softened.  Sift the soy flour over the vegetables, add salt as desired, and stir gently to make a paste; add the beer and stir until blended.  Place the pork chops and any juices back into the pan, cover, and simmer over medium low for one hour.

For the apple sauce, simply wash, core, and cube 8-10 small cooking apples and place them in a saucepan along with just enough water to cover.  Add any combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice mix you like, along with 3 TB of either DaVinci™ sugar free caramel syrup or brown sugar or maple syrup, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for an hour.   Allow the sauce to cool a bit, then smoosh with a potato masher until you get the desired chunky consistency.

For the green beans:

1 C walnut halves                                    1 tsp olive oil                                 

1/4 tsp onion salt                                    1/2 tsp curry powder 

1/4 tsp cumin                                            1-1/2# green beans                                                 

Break the walnut halves into smaller pieces with your hands, then mound the walnuts in the center of a large, non-stick skillet, drizzle with oil, toss well and spread them evenly.  Sprinkle with spices and pan-toast over medium-high for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Wash and halve the green beans and place in a colander or steamer basket over hot water; cover and steam for 8 minutes.  Spoon into a serving bowl and toss with toasted walnuts.

 Sweet potato pancakes require:

2 large sweet potatoes                          1/3 C corn meal                              

1/4 C graham flour                                  1-1/2 tsp baking powder  

2 tsp raw or brown sugar                      2 eggs, beaten

1/2 C evaporated skim milk                 2 TB canola oil       

Using red or white sweet potatoes, peel and cut into 2″ chunks and place in enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and parboil for ten minutes.  Cool the cooked potatoes then grate them onto a cutting mat.  Whir the corn meal on high in a blender to flour consistency.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meal, graham (or whole wheat or brown rice) flour, baking powder, and sugar; whisk well to combine.  Stir the milk into the beaten eggs and blend liquid into dry ingredients; stir in the grated sweet potato. 

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, then drop the batter by 1/4 cup measures into the skillet, shaping and flattening it into round cakes approximately 1/2″ thick.  Cook until golden, then flip and brown on side two.  Keep cooked pancakes warm in the oven as you continue the process for two more batches, using 2 tsp of oil per batch.  Serve ’em while they’re hot, with butter if you like.

For the sundaes, assemble:

 2 C coconut milk                                      1 C evaporated skim milk           

1/2 C sugar                                                  1 C sweetened grated coconut  

dash of salt                                                   2 tsp almond extract

1 can cubed pineapple in juice           24 Maraschino cherries               

2 small ripe bananas                               1-1/2 C graham crackers or almond biscotti

Several hours ahead of time, combine the milk, sugar, coconut, salt, and almond extract in the container of a food processor or blender and mix thoroughly. Pour into the container of an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.

At serving time, crush the cookies into coarse crumbs, cut the bananas into 1/4″ slices, and drain the pineapple.  Divide and spoon the canned pineapple evenly into the bottoms of six parfait glasses and top each with 4 cherries and equal amounts of sliced banana.  Sprinkle 1/4 C crushed cookie on top of fruit and scoop in as much of the coconut ice cream as the glass will hold, then pretend it’s a special occasion and spoon as much of this concoction into your gullet as you will hold.

Labor Day celebrations aside, the 9/11 anniversary certainly reminds us to give thanks for our blessings in a nation still graced with comparative plenty, and to pray for the continued protection of our freedoms and our liberties, and for the proliferation of such concepts everywhere there is a need for them.

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Attitude Amending and Perspective Perfecting Plain Old Corned Beef and Fancy New Cabbage

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