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Giving Simple Thanks For Our Food

 

Bless us, O Lord,

and these thy gifts,

which we are about to receive from thy bounty.

Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

 

Our family said that prayer at the beginning of each meal in our home when I was young.

What a novel idea……….giving thanks for the bounty we receive. Food was a gift from heaven, something to appreciate and to be thankful.

We have so much food in America and so much food variety these days that stores, restaurants, even many people throw away more perfectly edible food than some countries have to eat.

Yet despite our bounty, that folks in earlier eras would never have believed to ever be possible, we complain about our food almost endlessly. From too many preservatives to not being organic, we find many ways to denigrate the bountyAmerica provides her citizens.

Many of you know I used to teach school in the inner city. My colleagues and I could always tell the children who came from homes that were food insecure. They were the ones that ate all of the frozen micro-waved school lunches many children turned their noses at.

The children in food insecure homes scarfed the food down with abandon. It was probably the only food they had that day; or at least the most food they had that day.

At Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter teachers always took up a collection among all school personnel to buy the fixings for a holiday meal for one or two families with children in the school. We tended to choose the family by clues like the one mentioned above.

I was part of the group who took the food to the chosen families one year. The mothers were so grateful. It was just one turkey, some potatoes and celery, bread, and some canned vegetables. One mother had tears in her eyes as she thanked us and said this was food enough for a full week.

I could not help but notice that what most of us would think what we delivered  that day  was barely food enough for one day. This mother was thinking how to make it last for a week.

I was reminded of all this the other day when I over heard some people complaining about how terrible food is here in America.

It was not that there was not enough food to eat. It was not that the food was spoiled and not edible. It was not that there were starving people in America. It is not that there were pictures like the picture to the left  from America circulating around the internet.

It was the evil American food system, especially the evil people who produce canned foods and  fast foods with  preservatives.

If you were not eating organic or fresh food the unstated premise was the food you ate and by extension YOU, were some how sub standard. It was somewhat similar to another discussion I once happened upon on Twitter. People making fun of people who bought their food at Wal-Mart. It took every ounce of self-control that I have and then some not to give them a piece of my mind.

America manages to feed over three-hundred million Americans every day. We produce enough food in this country to feed the world. When I was in school teachers taught us we were the breadbasket of the world. When I was in school we were proud thatAmerica was able to produce so much wheat and corn and had the best farms in the world. We were taught to be grateful for what we had.

Is it a perfect system?

There is no perfection on earth. I do not expect a perfect system.

However, food has never been as plentiful and as readily available to human beings on such a wide scale as it has been in my lifetime here in the United States. Never has there been such a wide variety of  foods for us to eat. In 65 years never have I gone hungry.

Even during this terrible recession, America manages to feed more people safe food than any other nation in the history of civilization.

Yet we complain about our food as if it is the plague. We have people complaining about the quality of that food as if it was killing millions. We have people turning their nose up at canned or processed foods.

I can’t help but wonder if the men, women, and children in 1816,  The Year Without a Summer,  would have turned their noses up at canned foods and preservatives during that harsh, cold summer and winter when so many had little to no food at all to eat?

Guess it all depends upon how long it has been since you had your last meal.

 

Featured Recipe    Baked Lemon or Orange Pork Chops

I don’t remember where I got this recipe. I have been making it since I taught school in the seventies. I think it may have come from one of those church recipe books. I have a vague recollection of sitting in the teacher lounge and looking at the book and copying the recipes I liked rather than buy it.

It is fast, easy and delicious. While it is not a Recession Buster Recipe© it is still pretty darn inexpensive.

It is quick and easy because except for the fruit there is no chopping, dicing, slicing, or cutting. That is why this recipe is so perfect for a weeknight dinner. It goes together so quickly.

When I taught school I used to take the 2nd pork chop to school the next day for lunch.

You will want thick pork chops here. At least 1-inch thick or more.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

4 thick pork chops*

Flour for dredging (About 1 tablespoon per chop)

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 lemon or 1 orange**

½ cup catsup

½ cup water

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

*I only used two pork chops. I just have more sauce.

** I used some of each. It is more colorful and prettier that way.

Here is what you do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and slice the orange or lemon.

Add the catsup, water, and brown sugar to a bowl. Mix well. Set aside.

Salt and pepper the chops. On a piece of wax paper dredge each chop in the flour. I like using wax paper here because it is one less plate I have to wash. Just roll the paper up and throw away.

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat till it is very hot.  Add the chops and quickly brown them on both sides. Do not cook the chops through. Just brown them.

When the chops are nicely browned place them in a baking pan.

Pour the catsup mixture over the chops. Place a slice of orange or lemon; or as I do, one of each on each chop. More colorful and pretty that way don’t you think?

Bake uncovered for about an hour, depending on the thickness of the chops. If you have thin chops you will need far less time. I had 1-inch chops. I cooked for 50 minutes, removed from the oven and covered with foil for 5 minutes. They were perfect and juicy. However, each oven is different. Adjust these times for your oven and the thickness of your chops.

NOTE: I have a pork cooking guide for you below.

When the chops are done remove from the oven, tent with some foil and let it rest for about 5-10 minutes to let juices redistribute.

Serve with a salad and another veggie.

SUGGESTED GO WITHS:

Serve this dish with a vegetable such as this Quick Stewed Tomato recipe and/or a salad such as this Bistro Salad.  A Rice Pilaf would also be very nice. Any of these recipes are fast and easy enough to make while the pork chops are baking.

PORK COOKING GUIDE:

Pork Cooking Chart

Bon appétit!!!

Cost

NOTE 1: Not long ago this dish would have been much less expensive. However, with the cost of meat so high during the recession it becomes a bit more expensive.

NOTE 2: The cost below is based on the cost of 4 pork chops, not 2.

4 thick pork chops                $12.06

Flour for dredging                $0.12

1-2 tbspns vegetable oil        $0.12              

1 lemon or 1 orange             $0.89

½ cup catsup                      $0.60

½ cup water                       $0.00

2 tbspns brown sugar           $0.11

Salt and pepper to taste

Total cost =$13.90

Cost per person =$3.48

Quote of the Day

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one. 

Mother Teresa

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