Thursday, 17 April 2008

Pop Bottle Dreams and Deviled Pork Chops

Rules for Being Human:

  • You will learn lessons.
  • There are no mistakes - only lessons.
  • A lesson is to be repeated until it is learned.
  • If you don't learn easy lessons, they get harder (pain is one way the universe gets your attention.)
  • You'll know you've learned a lesson when your actions change.

~Author Unknown

Some of the finest lessons in life I have learned, has been from making mistakes, and sometimes they have been real whoppers. Those are the lessons that have really stuck . . . the ones that I've learned the most from. I was often very spontaneous and impetuous when I was younger. I'd put my body or mouth in action very often before I put my brain into action. Experience has now taught me with age, that it is much wiser to be silent for a bit longer, and think about things first before acting.

I remember an incident from when I was about ten years old. They were building an addition onto the feed mill in the small Nova Scotia town where we were living in at the time. My sister and I were out snooping around the construction site on a late Saturday afternoon. All of the workmen had gone home, and we were on our own. All the walls for the addition had been framed in, but they were largely open, and you could look right through from one side to the other. There, sitting all together on the second floor, was a HUGE pile of empty pop bottles . . . "Manna from Heaven" to a couple of kids in the sixties. It might as well have been a pirate's treasure chest full of gold. You could turn the empties in to the local Chemist (drug store) and get about a penny in return for each one, which doesn't seem like much today, but was a heck of lot back then in the days of penny candy, when you could get three jaw breakers for one cent. There looked to be at least a hundred there to us. (Probably only about 50, but my story, my literary licence)We both looked at each other with dollar signs in our eyes, and began to think of a way that we could get them into our greedy little hands.

Now, my sister was three years younger than me at the time . . . she still is. :-) I think she kind of looked up to me in a lot of ways. After all, I was supposed to be older and smarter . . . and on this particular occasion, I came up with the brilliant idea that, if we could get me up onto the floor of the second story, then I could lower each pop bottle down to her, one at a time. Then we could take them all and exchange them for cold hard cash. Ohhh, the dreams that plethora of wealth inspired in us. There were ooodles and ooodles of them just sitting there for the taking, each one . . . glinting and sparkling at us in the late afternoon sunshine, and beckoning to us like a siren of the sea to the captain of a ship.

Where there's a will there's a way, and we managed to somehow boost me up onto the second story. I can remember standing there triumphant in my achievement, and feeling quite good as I began to lower the empty bottles down to my sister, one at a time. Each one making me feel richer, and inspiring my greedy little dreams even more. It was hot and dusty work, but the thoughts of an ice cold Nesbitt's orange soda, complete with straw, being drunk in the coolness of the drug store afterwards, while they counted up our wealth . . . spurred me on . . .

It didn't occur to me until the last bottle had been lowered down, that . . . while we had managed to get me up there . . . we had given no thought ahead of time as to how we were going to get me down. Once we had finished our challenge, my mind began to clear a bit, and I began to think, probably clearly for the first time that afternoon . . . How on earth was I ever going to get down ??? The truth is, it's a lot easier to climb up than it is to climb down. Once you're up there . . . down looks ever so far away, and I am quite afraid of heights anyways. Oh how foolish we had been to let the dreams of wealth cloud our judgement and rule our actions. I could see no possible way down, short of jumping and I was too afraid to do that. The tears began to fall. My whole life passed in front of my eyes. Dreams of penny candy wealthy began to fade in the face of my dilemma and I now could see myself aging rapidly and stuck there for the rest of my natural life . . .

There was nothing else for it, but what my sister had to go get my father . . . a fate worse than death itself. He soon came, and yes, he was most annoyed, and yes again . . . I was punished. We did not get to keep the pop bottles. The only thing we managed to acquire that afternoon was a sense of injured pride and a sore bottom as we walked home, our heads hung down in shame, and as I was the oldest and should have known better, my shame was the larger portion. All that work had been for seemingly nothing . . . or was it???

As I lay in my bed that night, thinking over the events of that day, several things came to me. I had learned a few very important lessons from that one rather HUGE mistake.

One . . . taking something that doesn't belong to you always comes with a hefty price tag. Two . . . you must never let dreams of wealth cloud your judgement or garner your actions and three . . . which was perhaps the most important lesson of all . . . when you've painted yourself into a corner and can see no way out, you can always count on a sister to stick by you and help pull you out of any sticky situation, even if it means bringing in the big guns and . . . even if means it's going to hurt. My sister loved me and I loved her. We could depend on each other.

We still can. Throughout my rather messy divorce some years back, my sister was my most stalwart and faithful friend. She supported me emotionally all the way. She never turned her back on me or judged me. She held my hand and was always there . . . with a listening ear and a strong shoulder to lean on, and sometimes even cry on. A sister is a forever friend, and although some two thousand miles of distance may separate us at this time in our lives, our hearts are never more than a few beats apart. I love you sis!

My Todd is a real meat and potatoes man, and nothing pleases him more than the sight of a lovely chop on his plate with a huge pile of mash sitting next to it. He'd be happy with them just seasoned and plainly grilled, but by now he knows that with me . . . nothing is ever that simple! It may not be simple . . . but it's always tasty!

*Deviled Pork Chops*

Serves 4

These chops are always moist, tender and full of flavour. The sauce is absolutely delicious. They go well with rice or potatoes and I like to serve a vegetable on the side. I use a bone in pork chop for the best flavour and then, I know it's not genteel . . . but . . . you get to gnaw on the bone at the end. We all know the sweetest meat is next to the bone!

4 large thick bone in pork loin chops

2 TBS flavourless oil

freshly ground black pepper


2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 tsp of salt

274 ml (10 oz) red wine

2 TBS Worcestershire sauce

2 TBS red wine vinegar

2 rounded TBS tomato puree (paste)

2 rounded tsp English mustard powder (Keens)

2 TBS runny honey

2 tsp freshly grated ginger root

1 tsp ground powdered ginger

Stir together all the sauce ingredients in a large beaker and set it aside. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Season the chops well on each side with some freshly cracked black pepper and then add them to the heated skillet. Brown them well on each side. Once you have browned the second side, pour the sauce ingredients over and allow it to bubble up. Reduce the heat and keep the sauce simmering. Continue to let them cook in the sauce, allowing it to bubble away and reduce for about 10 minutes or so, until the chops are well coated and the sauce is thickened, turning the chops frequently. Test one to see if the juices run clear. If so, the chops are done and ready to serve. Try not to over cook them as over cooking really toughens pork. If you find the chops are done before your sauce is as thick as you would like it to be, then remove the chops and keep them warm while you continue to cook and reduce the sauce. Delicious!


Jan said...

They look good Marie!

Nene said...

Aren't sisters so special and dear to us?!! I love mine very much. I also appreciated and so enjoyed our lovely conversation the other day Marie.

Thank you so much for stopping by to leave me a comment on my ONE YEAR BLOGGIVERSARY. Today is it!! I have a "GIVEAWAY" just for you. I hope you will come back and see what YOU WON!! Please let me know, that you stopped OK. (leave me a comment)


Traci said...

Sisters are the best! Mine is! I treasure the way my girls treat each other. They are a team!

Tracy said...

What a beautiful post, Marie...And all the talk of sisters...My sister is my friend. And today I'm awaiting important news from mys sister, so this post had me thinking a lot. Hope we get to talk later today, my friend ((BIG HUGS))

Fearless Kitchen said...

This is a really interesting treatment for pork chops! I haven't had pork chops since I was a little kid, but these look like a much more grown-up option.

The Blonde Duck said...

What a wonderful (but hard) story. My sister and I are 4 years apart, so we spent most of our time at war with each other. I have literal scars on my arms!

I've been looking for you too! I take my laptop to work to doodle about and my work computer doesn't have IM. However, I do have next Friday off so many we can chat then or on a weekend!

Sylvie said...

I can just about picture you and your sister. Thanks for sharing your story. I always used to collect empty bottles when I was little. We'd go for family cycling trips on Saturday afternoons in the summer and we'd always find some that people had left in the little walker and cyclist shelters that you can find all over the place in Germany.

Gillie said...

I love the pics of you and your sister!

Allison said...

love that story - made me laugh. good lessons learned (though i was sad you didn't get to keep the bottles you so carefully lowered!) and a good sister. i have one too, and she's too far away as well!