Jennifer Walker, the force behind My Morning Chocolate, perfectly illustrates the point of this project. She has a great memory of a dish with only the vaguest notion of the workings of the dish. I’m like that. I know other people are like that too. My point is that we’re not alone in this. We all have our own personal food stories. I’ll let Jennifer tell you about hers.
Remember when Will Ferrell in the movie Elf says that elves have four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and maple syrup? As a child who willingly ate very few healthy foods, I would have fit right in with this sugar happy family from the North Pole.
I had my own four food groups then: Skittles, candy corns, jelly beans, and Cheerios. (The plain kind only, please. Hey, something had to sop up all of that sugar!)
I could have eaten anyone under the table in these foods. A pound of Skittles? I could put them away in an evening. A box of Cheerios? I ate straight from the box, handful after handful, while watching TV.
And even though I don’t remember the last names of all of my high school friends, I can still see with absolute clarity the time my Mom came home from the Giant with a bulk food bag of candy corns. I was playing on my neighbor Phillip’s driveway while waiting for my Mom to return from the store. When I saw her pull up, I ran across the street with a pep in my step, picked up the candy corns, and quickly returned to the driveway to eat my first one.
I ate one candy corn at a time, taking a small bite off the top, letting the soft sugar melt in my mouth, then working my way down. As I chewed, I thought about how this lovely candy tasted like maple syrup. With all the happiness that candy brought me, you can imagine how hard it was to get me to eat healthy food.
My Mom tried, probably the hardest with eggs. “I made them really special this time,” she would say, handing me a plate of eggs with a pool of Ketchup on the side. But the healthy foods just never took for me. Except for Mom’s pork with carrots and potatoes. Then I would pile my plate, sit next to my brother on the barstools at the kitchen counter, and systemically chow down.
The carrots and potatoes had a good flavor because of the pork juices. But they were still vegetables, and that made them less fun than pork. So I ate them all first.
Then I would move on to the headliner, my favorite part, the pork. It’s been about 20 years since I’ve had that pork, and yet I can still taste the tender meat melting in my mouth, and the salty sweetness of the onion topping. I know I ate other real meals back then, but the pork is the only dish I remember.
I don’t eat much meat these days, but I know that I won’t be able to resist pork with carrots and potatoes if my Mom ever makes it again. Sometimes the best flavors are the ones we remember from when we were young.
Pork with Carrots and Potato
BAH Note: In true Food Memories fashion, the “recipe” is merely a whisper of an idea. Jennifer said that her mom didn’t have exact amounts for any of the ingredients and referred her to the soup mix box for specifics. Sadly, neither Google nor Lipton’s had this exact recipe posted so I had to make some educated guesses as I tried to recreate this dish. I’m not sure how close I got to what Jennifer remembers. But the combination of pork, carrots, potato, and onion soup mix is pretty forgiving, even though I made a hot mess of it all. Seriously, I cannot show you what this looked like…you’d never again trust my cooking skillz. The instructions on the cooking bags said to use 1 tablespoon of flour to prevent the bag from bursting. I used 2 additional tablespoons to try and thicken the juices into gravy. After 90 minutes in the oven, I removed the pork and vegetables to a tray and carefully emptied the juices into a saucepan. I simmered the juices over a medium low flame for about 8 minutes until they had reduced and thickened.
- Pork Tenderloin
- Onion Soup Mix (I used both envelopes that came in the box)
- Water (I used maybe 1/4 cup)
- Orange Slices (I used a can of Mandarin orange slices in no sugar added syrup)
- Carrots (I used one bag of baby cut carrots)
- Potatoes (I used two sweet potatoes)
Cut the carrots and potatoes so they are a similar size.
Put the pork tenderloin in a cooking bag, then add onion soup mix, water, orange slices, and the cut-up carrots and potatoes.
Bake at 350.
“The time depends on the size of the roast,” according to Jennifer’s Mom. “It usually gives you the time on the package.”