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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops and Vegetables

Saturday was a very long day of working on the kitchen, the furnace room and extending the walk-in closet. The kitchen was mainly finishing details but they need to be completed before the grout can be sealed (more on that later). The furnace room was somewhat of a disaster pushed to the back burner after our flooding issue last October. We did the clean-up but no organizing. The walk-in pantry is about 8' x 10' that lies under the entrance, the only area on the official second level of our house. Off the pantry is a space under the stairs that to this point we had not taken advantage of but with the kitchen renovation and wanting to put an access panel to the stove, we decided to clean it out. There wasn't a lot, basically the mess from knocking out the wall and the pieces of carpeting left by the previous owner. Anyway, it was a very long day. I decided we needed a nice meal to enjoy while watching the water.

On the Grill

We buy pork on the hoof. That means we buy the pig before it goes to slaughter from a farmer we know often while it's still a piglet. The farmer calls us about a week before it is ready for slaughtering. From there we make all the arrangements with the abattoir. We control how the abattoir cuts and wraps the meat. We pay the farmer for the pig then pay cutting and wrapping fees to the abattoir but it does work out to be considerably cheaper this way.

We get pork chops cut 1 - inch thick. The most common way we cook them is using my husband's breading method, one of the very few things I do like breaded. We seldom grill bone-in pork chops even though the thicker cut is ideal for grilling resulting in a moist and tender meat.

Method: Heat grill to medium high. Grill pork chops until well browned then turn. Cook to medium or well done (24ÂșC) internal temperature. Apply barbeque sauce if desired. Allow sauce to slightly caramelize.

The Vegetables

Once again the entire meal with the exception of the salad was cooked on the grill. I marinated the zucchini and red onions in Kraft Signature Tuscan Italian dressing. This dressing is made with extra virgin olive oil with only 2 g sugar and 25 calories per tablespoon compared to PC Italian dressing that has the same amount of sugar but 60 calories. It is also 1% lower in sodium. We eat a lot of salads so I like a nice variety of salad dressings in addition to my homemade dressings but I also use dressings as marinades. I want those dressings to be packed full of flavour yet healthier. What I like about the Tuscan Italian dressing is the flavour as a marinade.

When I use the oven or grill I like to maximize the use so often the entire meal is cooked along with another meat or vegetable I might be planning to use the following day or preparing for freezing. This means I'm getting more value for the energy used. During the summer months it just makes good economical sense to keep the heat out of the house by using the grill. At the same time using the grill for the whole meal reduces the amount of pots, pans and utensils that have to be washed as well as kitchen clean-up. While your food is happily grilling away you can chat with family members or the neighbours so it really is a win-win situation.

Potatoes often wrapped in foil tend to be the most commonly grilled vegetables. Corn grilled in the husk is also popular as are foil packets of vegetables. Cooking vegetables directly on the grill gives vegetables a whole new spin. Grilled vegetables are a delight! Cooked on the grill to al dente they have lovely grill marks for nice visual appeal. Some vegetables require a bit of oil to prevent sticking on the grill. This can be achieved using an oil based marinade or brushing lighting with olive oil just before placing on the grill. I decided to grill zucchini and red onion to serve as sides with the pork chops.

Method: Cut a medium zucchini in half lengthwise. Remove pith and seeds. Place in baking dish. Pour about 3 tbsp salad dressing over the zucchini. Cut red onions into ½ inch slices. Place on top of zucchini and pour about 3 tbsp salad dressing over. Let sit ½ hour. Turn coating the other side with the dressing. Let sit ½ hour. Using tongs, place the vegetables on the pre-heated grill on direct medium low heat. Allow to cook until there are well defined grill marks when checked with a metal flipper. Turn and repeat.

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