Buzzard's Beat

Monday, October 26, 2015

Meaty Monday: Apple Spice Pork Chops

The Ninja's new colleague had supper with us one night a few weeks ago so I was looking for a recipe that had two things: 1) pork as the main ingredient and 2) some sort of fall implement. I am trying to beckon colder weather with fall aspects; home décor, apple pie etc. I may even drink a pumpkin spice latte.

I found this recipe on Pinterest and it looked so easy and delicious I couldn't pass it up. The key thing to remember about this, and any pork chop recipe, is DON'T OVERCOOK YOUR PORK. You're doing yourself a disservice by cooking pork chops and roasts until they are dry as a bone. Pork is best served at 145 F and it is ok to have a little pink in there. Trust me - I'm married to a doctor ;)

I hope you enjoy this meal - if you try it and like it, shout it out below in the comments!

Necessary ingredients for apple spice pork chopsIngredients:
 - 4 or 5  pork chops (ours were about 1" thick)
 - 2 T vegetable oil
 - salt and pepper
 - 1 medium onion
 - 2 medium apples
 - 2 T butter
 - 1 T brown sugar
 - 1/2 t cinnamon
 -  1/4 tsp nutmeg
 - 1 t chicken bouillon
 - 1 cup water

Apples and onions sliced up
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, season chops with salt and pepper (I use heavy salt and pepper because we like spiced up food). Once the oil is hot, place the chops in the pan and let the bottoms get a nice brown crust (2-3 minutes). While the chops are browning slice up your onions and apples (you don't have to peel the apples). Flip the chops and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes, then remove them from the pan.

Browning pork chops
Give the chops a few minutes to get a good crust on one side; then flip and repeat with  the other.
Now put the apples, onions and butter in the pan so that they can soften (approximately 5 minutes), then add in the bouillon, water, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir everything together well and ensure that the apples and onions are softened, then add the chops back to the pan. Make sure there are apples and onions on the chops so that the flavors can collide.

Pork chops, apples and onion simmering
They taste better than they smell - and they smell DELICIOUS!

Simmer the whole mess until the sauce is reduced by half and the chops are 145 degrees F. Serve chops with apples and onions served on top, with your favorite starch or veggie.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did - fall weather is here and this is great recipe for those chilly nights! What are your favorite fall recipes?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Big Business Comes to Rural America

Orscheln's Coming to Garnett, KS
Not yet open for business, but soon the Orschelns in Garnett, KS will be fully functional
We recently moved to the county I grew up in - a county in which the largest town has 3,300 people and the nearest Wal-Mart is 25 miles away. Since we live in rural paradise, most of our shopping occurs in this town, which is the county seat. There are not a lot of large chain businesses around us; there is a chain grocery store (Country Mart) and a handful of fast food restaurants -- that's about it for "Big Biz."

For example, here's a sampling of the locally owned businesses in the town. Small businesses account for probably 80-90% of the town's economy:

- 4-5 beauty salons
- 4 insurance companies (2 chain; 2 local)
- A bar/grill
- A Mexican restaurant (which changes hands every few years)
- 2 auto parts stores
- Furniture store
- 2 hardware stores
- Car dealership
- Feed/livestock supply store
- 2 liquor stores
- 2 women's clothing/gift shops
- 2 floral shops

Most of these businesses have been around since I was in elementary school and there is a delicate balance of shopping local vs. occasionally traveling to "the city" (aka KC Metro) for big purchases like electronics, TVs or other specialty items. The Ninja and I shop local because as part of the community we recognize we need to support our fellow rural dwellers or our county seat may fail to thrive.

Enter, Orschelns.

You see, we used to have an Alco but it recently went out of business and the building was purchased by Orschelns. Yes! Orschelns is coming to Garnett, KS. Most people see this as an step up in rural life, myself included. The ability to purchase fence posts, baby chicks in the spring (!!!) and have an expanded selection of ranch supplies is invaluable. However, another part of me is pained because I know that "Big Biz" is going to take business away from the hardware stores and maybe some from the feed supply business. In all honesty, Orschelns is likely going to put one of the hardware stores out of business.

And that sucks.

It sucks because a business that's been around for more than a decade will likely be shuttered. It sucks because a little piece of the community will break. It sucks that convenience and affordability come at the expense of empty aisles and a "going out of business" sign.

I'm not a fortune teller - I'm not positive that one of the hardware stores will close. I'm pretty sure the feed/livestock supply store will be fine because they deal with a lot of products that Orschelns doesn't carry plus they have a very loyal customer base. But this situation is always going to be a challenge for those of us in rural communities. Shop local is a movement that is alive and well, and for good reason. But when does it become acceptable to save money and shop at Big Biz? What is the percentage of savings that must occur in order for the stigma of shopping at Big Biz to dissipate? I'm predicting that judgment will be cast on those Orschelns patrons who will "abandon" the local hardware stores.

I don't know the answer, but I am guessing I'll know it within a few years. So, readers, how would you deal with this situation? Do you continue to frequent the small hardware stores? Do you run to Orschelns for the things that they offer exclusively? Do you alternate?

How would you handle this retail change up if you lived in rural southeast Kansas?

Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~

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