Sunday supper is the best meal of the week, in my view.
It certainly was when I was growing up, and I'm happy to report that even to this day, with both of my parents no longer with us, it still is in most weeks.
Take this past Sunday, for example. We had some pork chops sitting in the freezer, so my brother brought them out and set the package in the kitchen sink on Saturday night, giving them a sizable amount of time to thaw out. The next day, during the noon hour, I took them out of the package and went about seasoning them.
Much like any other culinary artist out there who's reading, I too have my own process. My rule of thumb when it comes to seasoning meat: the longer they sit, the more flavor will come through. So I start out with the salt shaker, doing both sides of each chop. Then I reach for my go-to shaker in the cupboard, my must-have when it comes to seasoning virtually any cut of meat; a Clubhouse shaker containing a mixture of garlic, herbs, black pepper, and sea salt. I do both sides of all the pork chops, and I just let them sit. You do your thing, Father Time. As far as the headlining act of tonight's supper is concerned, it's just a waiting game for now.
The afternoon goes by, the hours tick off the clock, and here comes the supper hour. So then, exactly what else is going with this pig? Well, this bag of baby potatoes looks good. I can boil these up in probably five minutes or so and then toss them in some dill seasoning. These taters need a neighbor, though. Let's see what we've got in the fridge here.....ah, of course. A package of carrots! I almost forgot that we had these! Into another pot of water you go, sitting beside the spuds on the stove.
The veggies are cooking, so let's turn back to the remains of Sir Oinks A Lot. They already look good enough to eat, but sadly, I'm not a bear or a wolf and so my stomach would not allow me to digest raw pork. The barbecue grill out on the deck gets fired up, I take a few moments to check on the veggies, and it's time to grill.
One thing I've noticed about my barbecue is that it gets really hot really fast, no matter how low I've cranked the levels. That's good enough for me because I'm getting hungry. I set the chops on the hot grill and hear that sizzling right away, and it's not long before I have to flip them all over. I quickly duck into the house to once again check on my taters n' carrots and turn the oven off, taking them both off their burners. Back to the outside, where my chops are squealing. Nice standard grill marks on them and they smell terrific, so it's time to turn off the grill, set these four little pigs up on the top rack (they had a cousin visiting), and duck back into the house to prep the rest of our supper for that evening. Both the potatoes and carrots get drained of their water, I toss some margarine and dill seasoning over the taters, and add some dill to the carrots too, shaking them to make sure they're coated.
That part of supper is served, but I've got some pigs I have to wrangle back into the barn. I plate my pork (that sounded dirtier than I'd intended) and come back into the house, the chops filling the house with the aroma of that summertime staple - grilled meat. A little BBQ sauce on each of them will only add, hopefully, to their flavor.
Brendon and I plate up and sit down, opting to watch a movie while we eat. A nice-looking, full plate of food that I've created from scratch. Let's try this all out, shall we? First is the carrots, which I'm fortunate to have not let sit boiling in water for too long. You get soggy carrots that way and they lose flavor. These ones are good, though, and the sprinkle of dill seasoning has kicked them up a notch. Now the baby potatoes. Mmmm, now these are very good. These little creamer spuds have a great texture to them, and the seasoning has brought out a unique flavor to them. Now on to the main event of the evening. The first forkful of pork (porkful?) just does that thing that food does when it hits the right spot at just the right time. I say this with as little ego as possible, but I did goooood with these chops. I'm no expert when it comes to pork chops because historically, it's been my least-desired cut of meat, but I think I found the right formula with these.
I look over at Brendon, who's busy wolfing his food down, and I look back at my plate. I can't help but smile a little. I made this. When I was a kid, Mom made this. Over the years, she taught me so many things in the kitchen and I like to think I picked up a lot of her tools of the trade. To paraphrase Red Green and add to one of his iconic sayings, if the women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.....in the kitchen.
Sitting down to enjoy a meal that you crafted and created is something that perhaps in the eyes of others, may not seem like a big deal, but let me tell you something, friends - it's capable of feeling bigger than it should. When I sit down to a meal that I cooked from scratch, I smile a little bit for several reasons. One, I'm looking forward to the first bite to see if I pulled it off. Two, I'm satisfied with the work I've put in to create this meal. And three, more than ever these days, I'm pausing now and then in order to smell the proverbial roses and just enjoy the little things.
That might be perhaps the biggest lesson my mom taught me - enjoy the little things. Whether it's something as modest as a good day at work, or something no one else would really notice like an enjoyable day trip to somewhere you've been a thousand times, or a simple meal that you've whipped up from scratch sitting on your plate and waiting to be enjoyed by you, its creator. You've just got to stop every now and then, pause, reflect, and be in the moment.
It's the little things that can sometimes make living our lives worth it all.
For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.