Home assignment 1

I design meals with a simple formula: Protein + Vegetable + Starch. It is this shortcut that ensures my meals are balanced. I am cooking for one and I have several recipes that I rotate through over the course of a month. I go to the grocery store on the weekend and buy the building blocks for these recipes: meats, frozen vegetables, and side dishes. Sunday is my main cooking day for lunch (something easy to transport in a lunchbox) and dinner (something more sophisticated than a single pot dish). This provides me with enough leftovers for the work week and I pack my lunch for work. It does save me time but I end up eating the same foods over and over.

My pantry inventory has plenty of staple goods like sugar, flour, oils, and spices. I have a few unneeded left-over items from Thanksgiving like pumpkin, evaporated milk, and cranberry sauce but they will keep until next holiday. I also have some oddball items that I use in one-off meals like liquid smoke for pulled pork B-B-Q. It is well-stocked to the point of maybe being overstocked. It’s only me eating the food so I might consider purchasing smaller packages. I would like to branch out with different grains, makes side-dishes from scratch instead of a box, and more fresh salads.

My pantry serves as a long-term storage source. Fresh foods don’t get used fast enough and dry goods aren’t convenient. I end up resorting to canned or boxed goods which means I have less control over salt, sugar, and fat content in my dishes. Also, it is designed as a walk-in but only has shelves in the back with a dim light source. I don’t know what spices I have and I have difficulty locating them. I need to take the time to unload my pantry, take inventory, and better organize it.

I prepared the following two dishes:

  1. Ohio Farmhouse Sausage Chili from the Joy of Cooking cookbook

What worked well: I didn’t have the exact ingredients but was able to substitute and modify the recipe. Chili is forgiving. Assembly of the chili went flawlessly and I used the onion cutting technique we learned in class, cutting it along the poles instead of the equator like I used to do. I used spicy chili beans instead of regular kidney beans- yum!

What I might change: I missed the final buzzer so it overcooked but it did not burn. I need to pay more attention to that next time. I also think I would prefer it with the pork sausage. I substituted hamburger which is fine but lacks some flavor.


  1. Greek Pork Chops from the Taste of Home recipe website

What worked well: I didn’t have the exact ingredients but was able to substitute and modify the recipe. I was able to use olive oil, fresh lemon, and prepared mustard which added a punch to the flavor that a simple spice rub cannot. I served the chops with wild rice and sugar snap peas, lightly salted.

What I might change: I was only able to marinate the chops for 4 hours instead of the recommended 8 hours. It was fabulous in that short time and I would like to know what it’s like marinated longer. I might try a different side dish like Greek orzo with feta or eggplant with almonds to keep with the Greek themed dishes.

-Christine M. Mounts

One thought on “Home assignment 1

  1. RobinS says:

    It’s nice to see that your pantry works well for your cooking style, and that you’re comfortable with substituting ingredients when you don’t have everything in a recipe.
    You mention that dry goods are not convenient, could you say more about that? Are you talking about whole grains, pasta, etc.? Hopefully, you’ll get some great ideas for how to incorporate more whole grains in this week’s class – there are some wonderfully simple and great tasting whole grain sides that could also be eaten as a main dish.
    Btw, your meals looked great – I’m sure that the extra time the chili had over the heat helped the flavors meld together even more. Regarding marinating the pork chops for an additional four hours – there would be no difference in the flavor. Marinades do not penetrate the meat, they only coat the surface (up to 1/8-in), no matter how long a cut of meat soaks in one.
    Thanks for sharing your process and thoughts!


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