Maple Bacon-Wrapped Pork Cutlets:
3-4 pork loin cutlets (thick-cut)
6-8 slices of bacon
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
2 Tb unsalted butter
fresh ground pepper
Directions: Start a separate pot of boiling water for the egg noodles; cook as directed for al dente and set aside. Melt butter in iron skillet over medium heat. Dry pork cutlets with paper towel; season with salt and pepper. Wrap bacon around cutlets (about 2 pieces each); place in hot skillet. Turn heat down to medium-low and drizzle with half the maple syrup. Brown first side (~10 minutes). Flip cutlets; pour additional syrup over browned side and cook for an additional 10 minutes (or until done).
* If you get down with the super thick cutlets like me (dang!), you may need to prop them up on the side of the pan, or create a “snuggle fest” by stacking those chops upright in the center of the pan (until all edges are browned). See photo below, if I sound like a crazy person…and yes, I said “snuggle fest! Just look at those cute lil’ cutlets all huddle together in a pool of sweet maple fat!
As soon as those porkies are done, set aside and wrap in foil to keep warm. Drain all but 3 tablespoons of bacon fat-butter from the pan and get ready to make the gravy!
Spiced Holiday Gravy
3-4 Tb all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 Tb apple cider vinegar
2 dashes paprika
1 dash ginger
1 dash nutmeg
1 dash cardamom
1 dash clove
fresh ground pepper
Directions: Over medium-low heat, whisk flour into skillet oil to create a thick roux. Pour in milk gradually while whisking until all milk is combined and mixture is lump-free. Add more milk if gravy is too thick. Add all spices; salt and pepper generously. Simmer over medium-low until gravy thickens and is smooth. Add apple cider vinegar and pre-cooked egg noodles; simmer over low-heat for 3-4 minutes.
Side Dish Inspiration:
Sautéed Shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 lb fresh brussels sprouts
2 Tb reserved bacon fat
3 Tb balsamic vinegar
fresh ground pepper
Directions: Trim brussels sprout stems; remove any damaged leaves. Cut in half and slice thinly into shreddings. Throw into hot skillet with 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat; cook until tender (~5 minutes). Add balsamic vinegar; turn heat on high and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Salt and pepper!
Put it all on a big plate, unbutton your jeans, pour a glass of sparkling apple cider, and slide right into the Holidays!
Happy Holidays to all you darling people out there!
Before we dive into the wildness below, let’s open your holiday card!
Aww, you’re welcome!
I hope your days are filled with mountains of mashed potatoes, buckets of Bûche de Noël, garbage pails of gravyliciousness, and truck beds of holiday turkey-ham! I’m certain there’s more than enough people out there to fill a gravy barge who relate to me and my love for the smothering sauce – and this is why I feel so comfortable expressing some of my deepest secrets here. Wait, did you say gravy barge, Ivy? Does that even exist?!!! Why yes I did – and yes it does! And here is one to prove it!
Ok, so maybe I didn’t fool all you seasoned Photoshop gurus out there, but I bet I had some of ya for a second!
Today marks year two-in-a-row for spending my holidays away from my hometown and family, so I’ve been on quite the reminiscing roll lately. San Francisco is a marvelous place to spread your holiday cheer around, (you can smear it across the entire 7-mile city in just under an hour – which means more time to ride the gravy barge). However, nothing beats going back home to my folks in Florida, where both brown and white gravy resides at pretty much any restaurant, coffee shop, truck stop, parking lot – you name it! Ah, there’s such a carousel of fine memories to share, but since it’s Gravy Friday I think I’ll stick to the ones that just happened upon the table cloth…
When grandma’s gravy boat hit that tablecloth during the Holidays, the true fun unfolded. My mind would explode like confetti, full of exciting questions and analytical break-downs such as:
- If I pass the turkey tray over the gravy boat with my left hand, will it cast a dark enough shadow to hide my right hand while it grabs the gravy before anyone else?
- If I don’t get to that gravy boat first, what are the chances there will be any gravy skin left for me?
- If the gravy skin is gone, how long must the gravy sit untouched before the magical skin reappears?
- How much longer are we going to say grace?
- Why is there only one gravy boat for 20 people?
- Will granddaddy sling extra servings of gravy in his eyebrows again and claim he’s saving it for later?
- Look at how the candlelight shimmers off the tiny bubbles of gravy oil, like city lights on a brown velvet hill…
I wish I could say that these thoughts only existed during my childhood, but they actually followed me well into my late teens – and some still linger today (especially the gravy skin question). However, this is rather normal brainwork for a gravy enthusiast! It’s not like I’m conjuring up schematics to a gravy bomb on my napkin. I’m just pondering the daily concerns of a woman’s life in a gravy world. Just in case you will be wondering, I have many more of these ponderings to share with you in the near future. But for now…
Alas! The mental scrapbooks are going back into the closet, and it’s time unleash a special Holiday Gravy Friday Recipe for all you good boys and girls (and naughty ones too)! Now that I think of it, this recipe is very naughty…
These past two Thanksgivings I’ve received the utmost honor to join some wonderful friends out in the lovely North Central Valley of California. In a place known as “Zinfandel Capital of the World”, robust excitement is guaranteed to go down. Participating in this local family’s tradition is incredibly special to me, since all my family members reside in the Southern US. With airlines demanding $800 a seat, I often become the California orphan during the holidays; but thanks to these friends, Little Orphan Ivy is no more! I wish everyone could’ve been there with me yesterday, so I’m gonna share my favorite memories.
Last year’s selection of deliciously prepared food, rare games like bocci ball and cornhole, endless views of grape vines spilling into the horizon, abundant wine flowing like water, and abdominal-piercing humor at the talent show had me seriously glowing for weeks. This year was just as fun: one-hand croquet (the other hand was for your wine glass), a game of pool in the barn, an improv jam session with lyric books provided, and healthy homemade food followed by heart-melting desserts. These unique Thanksgiving events bring everyone together, as it’s not only members from one family that attend, it’s also open to those who have wandered outside of their own traditional family gatherings. It’s sort of a rebel Thanksgiving, if you will – exploding with a vibrant cornucopia of charm, laughter, and togetherness. It’s a place where you find yourself effortlessly dropping your inhibitions and formalities at the door; a place to find freedom, happiness, and let your inner child come out and say, “Hey mom! I’m no longer gonna sit at the kid’s table, but I’m still gonna act-a-fool!”
This year was extra special, given that the SF Giants just won the World Series and the thrill of it all still remains as fresh as the San Francisco fog. A Giants-themed Thanksgiving was inevitable. Appropriately coined of course as “Fear the Bird“, yesterday’s party was a Giants fan free-for-all, some new and some well-seasoned, but all came full with the spirit of the Giants.
As we gathered around with our delicious butternut squash soups, fresh turkey, apple cider gravy, mounds of cranberry relish, and sherry mushroom risotto, everyone shared detailed and colorful stories of their personal fulfillment and nearly-blinding joy that took place the exact moment the Giants claimed the World Series title. Although my own Giants moment was a delayed joyous reaction, beginning as a realization that I lived in the ghetto when my neighbors starting shooting real guns outside; however, the drama subsided quick and the joy did set in. I didn’t share my moment at the table yesterday for fear of throwing off the topic, so I’m borrowing the textual real estate here since you’re still reading. Thanks for letting me have my moment. 😀
The black-and-orange-filled home was adorned with Giants gear, special effects, personalized name cards, Giants figurines jiggling their heads while I got seconds on gravy, orange pom-poms, lapel pins, black beards, and yes, even an orange thong (which has a special cameo in the video below)! Basically, not a single inch was left un-Giantized.
Aside from the mind-blowing array of specialty cheeses from Point Reyes and France scattered across the piano (which offered mouth-watering medleys to blend on crisps and crackers), we all still managed to out-cheese the cheese itself! This very special, once-in-a-lifetime SF Giants Thanksgiving was not about to end without some way to forever document the hilariousness and raw spirit of it all! What better way to do that than to grab the talented cameraman in the family and assign him the job?!
When the creative chaos unrolled, I found myself somehow wearing a panda mask that the Obama cardboard cut-out was sporting earlier in the evening. I was then shuffled into the kitchen nook to stand on my X and await my cue. We were given lyric sheets to Ashkon’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, a couple minutes to brainstorm our parts to match the lyrics, and one practice. It all went down in a matter of minutes and was over before we even realized what happened. There was one continuous shot that captured it all. It was honestly the closest I’ve felt to reliving my childhood and being a sports fan all at the same time!
Fear the Bird! An SF Giants Thanksgiving
[Filmed by Clayton W. / Original music by: Ashkon – Don’t Stop Believing (Official Giants 2010 Anthem)]
A special thanks to the Worfolk family and everyone attending for the great memories and wild times.
Happy Gravy Friday, darlings! Although it’s not as happy as I wanted it to be. But we can still celebrate the wonders of our favorite pourable flavor anyhow. We’re just going to have to do it on the ground.
That’s right, Gravy Friday’s exciting plans to be airborne today for the first time have turned into a full on gravy grounding, thanks to our beloved Transportation Security Administration (also know as TSA, or “those stone-faced sweater people in the airport who always throw your toothpaste and mayo packets away”). I admit, I’ve attempted many mayo packet smugglings in the past because there’s never any mayo in-flight; and eating a dry sandwich while trapped in a flying coffin with even drier recirculating air is like licking sandpaper to me – or worse – chewing on a sunparched 100% silk shirt. Yeck!
What’s all this fuss about gravy and the TSA? You see, I wanted to smuggle some of my gravy aboard an airplane this evening (via a willing Seattle-bound passenger) for Queen Mother Jessica of Simplify Agency. She was expecting a package containing my Great Grandma Hudson’s fried chicken skillet gravy today, so that it would be waiting for her after the World on Fire show tonight. Jessica and I have never met in person and I wanted to help put an end to her long nights staring at my Facebook posts and yearning for a warm hug from my southern gravy. Jessica has gone to great lengths, sending me her famous Hoffa Ham earlier this year via flight, so I wanted nothing more than to return the flavor. (You like that pun?) We both had great plans to introduce ourselves through an exchange of our culinary personalities via airplane, but TSA has destroyed our dreams. I would insert an image of a TSA officer blowing up a gravy bowl filled with dreams here, but I don’t have one handy right now.
Before I go on to the main gist of this post [famous Ivy tangent…] let’s go back to the mayo packets real quick, because that reminds me of this great story my old boss once told me. Apparently one of his employees sat on a plane with Ralph Nader years ago and she witnessed him sucking mayo packets throughout a large portion of the flight. Now, was I turned off upon hearing this? Of course not. It made me love Ralph Nader more because mayo is delicious. I would have done the same if any of my mayo smuggling attempts were successful. Plus, Nader is awesome because he’s the reason we have seat belts in cars so that’s great too. Also, during his 2000 campaign, he let me have Fox news’ seat at a private conference he held when he saw me show up with a homemade ‘Nader 2000’ shirt and found out I drove across the state of Florida with my fellow campaigners just to support him. The look on the Fox news reporter’s face was priceless when we sat in their seat. I know, I know…green party, Ivy? Hey, I was 18 and excited to vote for the first time…and my other choices were Bush or Gore. We all remember that one…
So, if mayo is prohibited, then I should have known gravy would be as well, right? I’m sorry Jessica, I just didn’t think that far ahead. I’m aware that not thinking is a poor excuse, but I admit my faults and I’m going to turn this Gravy Friday grounding experience into a positive one! Here is a list of items you should probably avoid taking to the airport this holiday season to hopefully prevent future heartbreak and trouble.
- Gravy (just in case you missed that)
- Salad Dressing
- Mayo (SO not fair)
- Flan or crème brulée (yes, my birthday flan was confiscated at the Long Beach airport)
- Cream Cheese
- Peanut Butter
- Maple Syrup (they won’t care if you paid $40 for it in Ohio)
- Mashed Potatoes!!! (what the heck?)
- And pretty much anything that falls under a sauce, gravy, custard, or liquid.
Why the banning of such harmless foods? Because all of these food items are undercover terr0r*sts. (I censored that to keep my post from showing up in some crazy search for dangerous food people.) These prohibited foods are no laughing matter. They can apparently boil themselves down to a liquid within seconds after boarding a plane, spontaneously combust, and instantly become a total threat to the safety of our Nation. Now you know. But this doesn’t mean you still can’t have fun! Sometimes I like to show up to the airport early, bring my prohibited items to security and sit right next to the x-ray machine and eat them, while everyone stares. Remember, whenever people stare at you they are just envious; but when they stare at you while you’re eating mashed potatoes and gravy while they’re shuffled like cattle and wanded down by TSA creepers, by gosh they want to BE you. So take your time, enjoy yourself, and when you hear “Sorry sir (or ma’am), no gravy allowed!”. Just sit right down and take a gravy break.
If you do feel the need to complain about the loss of your food rights while traveling, you can always write me. Or, perhaps you will be lucky enough to find this man waiting to serve you direct!
His name is Russell Kanning and he works for the New Hampshire Free Press. If you don’t happen to see him around, he also takes complaints via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not sure how effective that is, but God Bless him anyway!