Baking & Slow-Cooking (+ A Couple of Recipes!)

I haven’t written a cooking post lately, so I thought I would take just a minute and share what is becoming a favorite at our house. I found a recipe for Chinese Pork Chops at Six Sisters' Stuff
In the crockpot, all ready to go!
The first time I made it, CH said the sauce tasted like Sweet Baby Ray's, so the next time I made it, that's what I used. I tweaked the recipe just a bit: I used 1 cup Sweet Baby Ray's, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 an onion, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Then, I put in the secret ingredient:
If you've never tried Chinese Five Spice, I would highly suggest it. I mentioned it in a post back in 2012 after I made Five-Spiced Steak Strips. I also use it to make Sweet, Sticky, Spicy Chicken; I just substitute the 5 spice blend for the spices in the recipe. Not only does it add a lot of flavor, but it smells pretty good, too. I don't measure it in the recipes; I just add as much as I want. 
For the pork chops, I put the chops in the bottom of the crockpot, spoon the sauce mixture on top, and set on low for 4 hours. CH splurged and bought a crockpot that will switch over to keep the food warm after the food has cooked. Well worth it!
I used to have a breadmaker, but I got rid of it because I didn't use it for many years. I had been thinking about getting another one, and I followed through a couple of weeks ago. I made rolls for Easter, pizza crust (that I left in the machine too long...now I know when the dough cycle is done!), and the other evening I made Dill Bread. I have to say, it was delicious! It doesn't have a strong dill taste, which is probably a good thing.
I can't wait to try Kolaches! I never know if my dough is going to rise like it should; with the breadmaker to make my dough, it should do just fine.

If you try the Chinese 5 Spice, let me know what meat you tried it with, and how you like it!


{Wednesday Hodgepodge} I've Got Nothing for the Title

From this Side of the Pond

1. April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Has your April been filled with showers? Do you carry an umbrella, wear a slicker, or make a run for it? Besides rain, what else has filled your April? 
Boy, has it ever! We had a "flood day" on Monday...too many flooded & blocked roads. We're in the middle of our state testing, so I'm sure the superintendent felt it was better to have everyone miss a day of testing than to try to get in all of the make-ups from those students who couldn't make it to school.
I usually make a run for it. Unless I actually remember my umbrella, which stays in my car.
Easter activities filled up the better part of my April, as well as helping to clear out my parents' house.

2. What's something you could you give a 30-minute presentation on at a moment's notice and with zero preparation?
I would say it would have to do with being an SLP in the schools.

3. Share with us a favorite food memory from childhood.
I don't know if it's a favorite, but it seems like we had roast a lot.

4. What's a song you thought you knew the lyrics to, but later discovered you were wrong?
I always thought he was singing "Do it like a lady"!

5. According to one travel website, the most overrated tourist attractions in America are-
Niagara Falls (NY), Hollywood Walk of Fame (California), Times Square (NYC), Epcot (FL), Seattle Space Needle (WA), and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market (Boston). How many of these have you seen in person? Did you feel like a tourist? Did you care? Tell us about a place (not on the list) you've visited that might be considered a tourist trap, but you love it anyway.
I've been to Times Square and Epcot. Of course I felt like a tourist: at Times Square I was with a high school band!
Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's free, so I don't know if it could technically be called a "tourist trap". It's my most favorite place in the mountains.

6. Your signature clothing item?
Jeans & t-shirts?  😁
I'm definitely not a fashionista!

7. What's an experience you've had you think everyone should experience at least once? Why?
 Visiting a foreign country. It gives you a deeper appreciation of being an American and living in the greatest country on earth. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.
The weirdest thing happened on Monday: I saw an armored sheriff's vehicle with sirens on. I saw it again just a bit later. This was after a police car when through an intersection with its lights & siren on. As I drove back from the vet, I saw a lot of police cars in a gas station parking lot, searching a car. I'm wondering if they thought there were explosives, but then realized there weren't. I didn't see anything in the paper about it this morning. Weird...just weird.

I'm linking up with Joyce at From This Side of the Pond. Go check it out!


{Weekend Wrap-up} An Emotional Yet Exciting Weekend

It's been a while, huh? Seems like I've said that once or twice before! Things are happening in the Small Town. The big thing is that the roads are torn up in preparation for some major road work. It's supposed to make getting to Knoxville easier. We'll see. I have a hard time believing that the businesses that the new road is going to bypass are okay with the new road. But, the paper says they are, so it must be true. 😖
Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending an "Aggie Muster" in Knoxville. If you read my post A Very Special Weekend in a Very Special Place, you know how connected my family is to Texas A&M. Aggie Muster is another long standing tradition that is embraced by all Aggies. Every April 21st, Aggies gather near their homes to remember those who have passed over the year. Since my daddy passed away in February, his was one of the names called at roll call. My sister (who is currently working on her Ph.D. at A&M) did the honor of saying "here" when daddy's name was called. Following roll call, "Silver Taps" is played. And my tears came. I thought about how Daddy loved the Aggies. He was so proud to be an alumnus. He always had several Texas Aggie Magazines and books next to his chair in the living room. He always watched the different sports teams when they were on tv. He is an Aggie through and through. 
Thankfully, the president of the A&M Club allowed me to go in. My sister had been in contact with another man about my coming, and he said I could come; however, he didn't let the president know. At one point he said that we could eat downstairs and come up for Muster, but then he came back and said they'd bring in a table if they had to. And that's how I got in. And, that's how I met this guy:
This is John Chavis, also known as "Chief". He is the defensive coordinator and linebacker coach for A&M. He also coached at UT (That's the "real" UT: Tennessee!) and LSU. I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to talk to him, but we were able to talk to him following Muster. I introduced myself, told him Daddy was an alum of '50, and that he passed away in Feb. Coach Chavis sounded so sincere when he apologized for our loss. I then told him that Daddy often said that Coach was the best defensive coach around and that he was a big fan. He was just so down to earth. He is now one of my favorite people! 1 thing that he said while he was speaking to the crowd: He said he envied Aggies because of all of the tradition. I know how he feels. I envy my sister that she's a part of this great tradition. Even if I had been a serious student in high school, I would have never had the opportunity to be an Aggie. Daddy was insistent that we all attend a college in-state. 
Okay, enough of that! That probably could be a blog post in itself! After Muster, I opened up a bottle of Peach Mead and we sat down to watch Steel Magnolias. My sister was up at the crack of dawn to head back home...too much to do, and CH & I had an appointment to see about some kitchen cabinets. We were planning on going to the Rossini Festival in downtown Knoxville, but it poured pretty much all day. So, when we left our kitchen appointment, we were hungry. We found this really neat looking place:
The building is an old Texaco station, and they brew their own beer in the brewhouse, which is just to the right of the picture.
It was really cool, and the food (and beer!) was excellent. The inside:

It's definitely a place we'll go back to. We were disappointed about not going to the festival; we went a couple of years ago and it was excellent. A lot of different music groups in the area perform; YS' fencing group had exhibitions as well. 
Saturday night, I attempted to make pizza with my new breadmaker. Now that I know when the dough cycle stops, I think it will work! It was edible; next time will be even better! We watched Chamber of Secrets; well, most of it. I didn't make it to the end...it was past my bedtime.
Since the cabinet shopping on Saturday was a bust (very good price; I just don't think I'll be happy with it in a few years), we did more shopping on Sunday. I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want; now we'll see if I can get what I want with my budget! With any luck, my kitchen is going to look very different than it does now:
And I can't wait!!!

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