Friday, November 6, 2015

Old Books, Summer?, Football Deaths,

In 1947 a book was published called The Bell of the Four Evangelists by Violet Needham. My cousin got it (not how old she was) and in 1952 she passed it on to me. All of Violet Needham's books were intended for children but they always appealed to me both as a child and as an adult. A few weeks ago, at bowling, one of my fellow bowlers started talking about the book and saying how much she had enjoyed it. I told her I had the book and she was so excited. A week later I took the book with me and she was having trouble concentrating on bowling because she had the book. Last week she returned it with a delightful note. Now on Monday I will be taking The Woods of Windri for her. I have four or five of these books but there is one I really wish I had, The Horn  of Merlyns. I wished so hard, I just went and ordered it from I didn't know when I wrote this, but this friend is now reading my blog.

Another children's book I still have is The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Gouge. Somehow I lost my original copy so I bought it again a few years ago. I think that one was my all time favourite.

They tell me it is November, but we have had the air conditioner on for the last two days. The sun has been pouring in our windows and turning our living room into an oven. Doesn't happen in the summer I am glad to say otherwise it would be unbearable. Funnily enough this morning (Wednesday) it became really foggy at about 7:30 a.m. but then it dissipated by 9:30 - it wasn't foggy at 7 a.m. though. Weird. We are supposed to get some rain for the weekend and then back to warm temps again next week.

Whilst sitting here at my desktop, Matt has the TV on and they are talking about yet another student who has died because of playing football. Seems to me they should all take up soccer. If I were a parent I would be worried sick about my kids on the football field. OK percentage wise it probably isn't that high, but as they told me when I poo pooed sharks being in the Mediterranean, "it only takes one".

I love the recipes from the New York Times and this one looked good. I have brined turkey but never thought of doing the same to pork chops. Good idea as I only buy small pork chops, the big ones have too much meat on them. They do tend to end up dry unless I braise them in the oven. I've never heard of horseradish with pork chops. No reason why not I suppose.

Pan-Roasted Pork Chops With Apple Fritters

  • Serves 4



For the pork chops and brine

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 dried chiles de árbol
  • 5 juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 4 pork chops on the bone, approximately 1 ½ inches thick
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, like canola

For the sauce

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots peeled and finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup pork or chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish, ideally freshly grated

For the apple fritters

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch rounds
  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ cup very cold seltzer water
  • ½ cup rice flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup neutral oil, like canola


    1. In a large bowl, mix the apple cider with 4 cups of water, the sugar and the salt. Toast the bay leaves, chilies, juniper berries, caraway seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small pan set over medium heat until you can smell them, then add to the brine, and stir to combine. Add the pork chops, cover and place in the refrigerator to brine overnight or for up to 48 hours.
    2. To pan-roast the pork chops, preheat oven to 375. Remove chops from brine, and pat dry with paper towel. Season the meat aggressively with freshly ground black pepper and a little salt. Set a large sauté pan that will fit in the oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil, and when it is shimmering, place the chops in the pan. Cook until well seared on one side, approximately 4 minutes, then turn the chops over, and place pan in the oven to finish, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. (The internal temperature of the pork, measured at the center of the chop, should be between 140 and 145 for medium rare.) Remove the meat from the pan, and allow to rest for 5 minutes or so while you make the sauce.
    3. Return the pan to the stovetop, over medium heat, and add the butter, stirring and scraping to incorporate meat drippings, then add the shallots and the thyme. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, then add the brandy. Allow the mixture to reduce by half, then add the cream and the stock and reduce again, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat, and whisk in the mustard and the horseradish.
    4. For the apple fritters, heat the apple cider and the cinnamon stick with a couple of inches of water in a large pot set over high heat. Add the apple rounds, and blanch for 1 minute, then remove to a towel to dry. Whisk together the egg and the seltzer until frothy, then gently mix in the flours. Put the oil in a large pan set over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, dip the apple rings into the batter, and fry in the oil until golden brown.
    5. Serve the pork chops with a few apple fritters and a heavy drizzle of sauce across the top. The usual accompaniment is potato-and-horseradish pierogies sautéed in brown butter, though roasted new potatoes with a topping of butter and freshly grated horseradish will answer almost as well.

    Have a great day


    1. It's been sunny and warm here, even after that oddball show we had. We call it, Indian summer, and we're really enjoying it during staycation.

      1. I was told, the other day, that it isn't called Indian Summer here unless it has snowed first. I don't think that's true though. It's wonderful when we are out and about. Not so much when it warms up our apartment such a lot.

    2. I've never read anything by Violet Needham but love Elizabeth Gouge's books. My books are currently all packed up but I'm looking forward to rereading some of her books when I finally get them out of storage.

      1. I know I replied to this Helen. I guess it got eaten in cyber space. I have read a couple of Elizabeth Gouge books I still have one, not sure about the other. Violet Needham is great. Wish I had more of her books.

    3. Pouring rain here this morning so it is on the way to you. My boys all played soccer. I discouraged football and hockey. Does that make me an over-protective mom? Don't think so.

      1. Here too Denise. Started during the night. No, I think that makes you a very sensible mom, especially with all the deaths we hear of right now.

    4. We're going to be warm this weekend.

      That was so nice of you to let your friend borrow those very old books. I have the original editions of Bambi and Bambi's Children, but I'd be afraid to loan them out.

      1. Well, it never gets that cold where you live anyway. At least it never did on the coast.

        I was a tad reluctant to do so but she promised me faithfully she would return it, and she did. I lent some German Shepherd books to the daughter of a man I worked for. Never did get them back and one of them was a very expensive book.

    5. Football is such a violent sport; I'm surprised anyone would ever want to play it. Watching some of the hits players take on professional games, you wonder can that be good for growing bodies? When I was a senior, a player at another high school took a bad hit and ended up paralyzed from the neck down at age 17.

      How fun to be sharing common interest books with others :)


      1. Never watch the game Betty, but do see clips on TV and yes, very violent. I agree, not good for young bodies at all. Not sure it's very good for adults either.

        It is fun Betty. I have some other friends I do exchange books with too.

    6. My a/c is running too and I'm in shorts. As for football, it's my fave sport but one wrong hit and it could be deadly. I was watching the Seahawks game last week and Ricardo Lockette took a bad hit and was out before he hit the ground. Luckily all he needed was neck surgery, but some players have been paralyzed.

      1. The weather changed somewhat over night and it rained heavily. However, this afternoon it is quite sunny again. I don't watch the game, but it does seem unnecessarily dangerous.

    7. Wet, windy and horrible here in Whitstable Jo. We're off to Fuerte next Tuesday so will catch up on sunshine then (and looking forward to sunset being 6.10 pm instead of 4.20 here (although its been dark since 3.30pm today it seems). Hope your good weather lasts for a while

      1. Was like that here last night and this morning. However, now, after lunch, it is quite sunny although not that warm I believe. Supposed to get more warm weather though.

    8. The books sound like they are a fun read. I always reread Call of the Wild. It is warm! I am one who thinks it is too warm for this time of year-too hard on the body. I like horseradish with pork chops:)

      1. They are Birgit. Never read Call of the Wild, maybe I should pick it up. Cooler this morning, round here anyway, it was blowing a gale and chucking it down, this afternoon cloudy and sunny.

        Never tried it with pork chops, I will though.

    9. A lot of the kids dying from sports die due to an unknown heart condition. Makes you wonder what we are doing to our kids to cause that.

      1. If you read Fil's comment Alex, it may answer your comment. Although I understood a lot of the problem was crashing heads in scrummages.

    10. My husband has that condition of the heart (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) that causes what they're calling here "sudden death syndrome" - which is what the kids die from on the football field. It's a thickening of the heart wall which can cause one chamber of the heart to get smaller and not pump as much blood - so when someone's over exerting themselves, the heart pumps harder and harder and eventually stops functioning. . It's very frightening and there's nothing can be done about it - yet. Apparently 1 in 500 people have the condition and most go through there lives untouched by it. Tom was diagnosed recentlly because he kept getting a racing heart and wakening in the night in a terrible sweat. It seems to run in his family ... Even if the child is not running about playing football, he could still die walking up the stairs but we just hear about the sports related ones.
      I love that recipe Jo - and must look out for those children's books.
      Have a great weekend.
      Fil’s Place - Old songs and Memories

      1. That's interesting Fil, thanks for the information. Seems it is more than 1 in 500 round here with the amount of deaths on the field lately. Sorry your husband has the problem.

        The books are great, whether they are available anywhere but places like Amazon, I have no idea. It's a very upmarket recipe isn't it?

    11. My favourite children's books are the seven chronicles of Narnia, Five Children and It, Pippi Longstocking and The Naughtiest Girl in School by Enid Blyton. I had a penchant for British writers. Although Pippi is Norwegian I think. I think lending people books is an excellent way to bond with friends Jo.

      1. I love Narnia too. I still have all the books and some of the movies but the Needham books are older, I think. Just checked, only 3 years between The Lion etc. and The Bell of the 4 Evangelists. The Horn of Merlyns was published in 1943. If you can find them Pinky, you really should read them. I never read Pipi Longstocking and never really enjoyed any Enid Blyton, I thought they were generally too young for me. Only one book I ever enjoyed of hers, don't remember what it was called, but it was a kid's version of the Canterbury Tales.