The alternative titles for this post were ‘Nostalgic’ and ‘Retro’.
A lot of moms feel like dinner is something that falls into the chore category when you have little kids. And I get you. I really do. Especially the dishes part. Some nights it is. But some nights it feels to me like the only creative outlet in a day. If there is a chance to prepare ingredients, mull over a recipe, dream about a combination of flavors, it feels like the day is a win for me. And sometimes, there is the chance to remember the flavors of childhood. If you have any other creative outlet in your day or you work long hours then it makes sense that your creative tank is empty by the time dinner rolls around. I notice mine is a little lower if I have been writing fiction all day. But on the days that I am not writing, dinner is my jam.
My mom had eight kids. Eight! And when people wonder how I cook dinner with little kids or even why we care about food at all with such a crazy household, I have to say it is because my mom did it with us. I suspect that dinner and decorating the house were her creative outlets in the midst of all the craziness. Her creative tank was always really full. And she had a repertoire. A repeat of favorites, and this bacon wrapped pork loin and creamy zucchini bake are two that I remember well. She also had an army of helpers with the clean up, which I try to remember on days when I don’t feel like dirtying a pot. Because I remember hating the dishes part when it was my week.
(I have not outgrown this feeling).
My mom cares full time for my sister, Maureen, who is two years younger than me and has special needs. And even with all of the care for Maureen, who is in a wheel chair because she can’t use her legs and is awaiting surgery on her upper spine/neck, she still whips together the most amazing dinners. It was my mom’s birthday recently, and Maureen isn’t feeling too great waiting for her surgery, so I think it has been making me a little nostalgic for the times when she felt a little better, when we were little.
Maureen is pictured on the left (our friend Alicia is on the right. Hi Maureen! Hi Alicia!). This was during better days a few years ago. She is the sweetest.
I have been craving the flavors of the lemony-butter-creamy zucchini dish my mom used to make all summer as it grew in our garden. But we kept eating our zucchini too fast so in the end I bought some. But if you still have some, or file away things to do with loads of zucchini, here you go.
Sliced them and boiled them for 5 minutes. Then top with these:
And baked them in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 350. You can sprinkle the top with chives too – I forgot that step. The result is this soft-textured fresh zucchini bite with puffy clouds from the baked sour cream, the kick of lemon and the butter melting in your mouth. This dish may be retro, but it deserved to be revived. Like penny loafers and top knots, it’s a classic.
And this pork loin is probably retro too. But also a keeper. You just take a 1-2 pound pork tenderloin and slice it into 1 inch slices, top it with tomato, onion and pepper (my mom always used green peppers but I only had yellow.) Be sure to season well with salt and pepper, then wrap it up. The combo of these flavors is just crazy good, like meat that has been slow cooked all day with bacon, onions and peppers but it only takes a half hour. And the leftovers are incredible, because when the flavors mingle for a day they get even better.
I used applewood smoked bacon and ended up only using one piece, secured with a toothpick, but you can use two pieces of bacon if it’s thin.
Cook for 30 minutes at 425, watching closely for the bacon to be well cooked. If it is under cooked, keep in oven for 5-10 minutes more or until done.
Try these for your kiddos or your friend or your hubby sometime. Give them a memory that will last at least a quarter of a lifetime. I think.
Baked Zucchini and Lemon Butter Cream Sauce (printer version here):
2 zucchini, sliced
1 cup sour cream
½ stick butter
juice of ½ lemon + 1 tsp. zest
salt & pepper
Boil 2 sliced zucchini in water for 5 minutes. Drain.
Melt butter and stir it together with sour cream, lemon juice and zest. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add chopped chives if desired.
Place zucchini in baking dish, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Pour lemon & butter mixture over zucchini and back at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin (printer version here):
1-2 lbs. pork tenderloin, sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
3-4 tomatoes, sliced
3 onions, sliced
3 peppers, sliced
1 package bacon
Layer pork, onion, tomato and pepper onto of bacon slice. Season with salt and pepper. Close bacon slice with toothpick. Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes.