Curious Cook: Some ‘firsts’ from a pretty good week

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So, this week I experienced a few new things.

After one year, one month, and six days, I hugged The Kid. My child has rheumatoid arthritis and is on immunosuppressants. And because of that has been self-isolating. Although I make regular trips to The Kid’s house to bring groceries and other necessities, since the shut down last year we have not touched.

There is an actual affliction called “touch starvation.”

From the Healthline website: “Why is touch important? Skin-to-skin contact is vital not only for mental and emotional health but physical health, too. When you feel snowed under or pressured, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol. ... According to a 2017 study, gentle touch can reduce both pain and feelings of social exclusion.”

And while my child may or may not have been starving, there is no doubt The Kid was deeply hungry to be held by Mom.

That child hugged me so hard, for so long I was left with a limp, a bruised spleen, four dislocated shoulders, and wrinkled karma.

And last weekend, after a very long hiatus, my friend and I were able to meet at a local watering hole to enjoy some munchies, brightly colored expensive cocktails, and girl talk. The tables had been moved outside to a picturesque alley that looked like something out of an Audrey Hepburn movie or the set of a Rogers & Hammerstein musical.

I had something called “100% Beach,” with pineapple juice, yummy, chewy Luxardo cherries, and tequila.

And two pineapple daiquiris.

I wasn’t stumbling or wearing a lampshade, but afterward I did go into Whole Foods and spent $86 on lots of cheese and many, many cookies.

And then there was one last first.

Based on his love of pork chops, I’m practically married to Homer Simpson. I cook them often, but they are either baked or cooked slowly in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Not this time. I fried them.

Before this, I had neither cooked nor eaten fried pork chops. I was raised on Shake & Bake and this continued (albeit homemade Shake & Bake) at my own house.

This time I decided to try frying them.

Along with them I made (drum roll please) potato salad. We also had black-eyed peas, made from frozen, but flavored from the south.

Hugs from The Kid, spirituous libations with a friend, and pork chops with black eyed peas. It was a darn good week.

Thanks for your time.

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Old School Black-Eyed Peas

1-12 ounce bag frozen black-eyed peas

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch strips

1/2 teaspoon dry thyme

2-3 cups chicken stock

Red pepper flake or hot sauce to taste

Salt and pepper

Put into heavy saucepan. Cook on medium until the bacon has rendered some fat. Put in onion, thyme, chile flake or hot sauce, and salt & pepper. Cook until the onion’s translucent.

Pour in enough stock to cover beans by an inch.

Cover and cook on medium-low until the beans are tender, about 25-35 minutes. Uncover and cook 5-10 more minutes until the sauce has reduced to just below the top of the beans.

Serves 4-5.

Fried Pork Chops

4 boneless pork loin chops

Enough bread and bread products that when ground in food processor make 2 1/2 cups of crumbs

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary

2 cups buttermilk

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

Preheat oven to 375°.

Put flour in a zip-top bag. Add salt and pepper, close bag and shake to distribute salt and pepper. Put buttermilk and mustard into a shallow bowl and whisk together. Put ground breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese into a second shallow dish.

One at a time, coat pork chops in flour, then egg mixture and finally crumbs.

While coating the chops, heat about 1/2-inch oil in heavy or cast iron skillet on medium-low.

Once the meat is coated and the oil is hot but not smoking, cook the chops on medium until golden brown. Flip the pork then put skillet into the oven to finish.

Cook for 10 minutes then check internal temp with probe thermometer. When it reaches 145 degrees, remove skillet from oven and put the chops on a plate for five minutes. Serve.

*Bonus Recipe: Classic Pineapple Daiquiri

1 1/2 ounces pineapple rum

1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice

Juice of 1/2 lime

Place ingredients and 2 scoops of ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.

Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with a dried pineapple slice.


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