I can't believe I couldn't share with you any sooner than now; but my computer came in contact with a massive trojan....I wish I were talking about the "gutter" trojans; however, I was under attack worse than Luke Skywalker in outer space!!! I am back and full of amo this time though... So last night, for family dinner we all took part in preparing (as most nights); however, Dan and I were doing more of the work than anyone else! The kids were glued to Kung FuPanda so asking for any help was pretty much useless.... We started by not really knowing the direction of our meal, but soon ventured into the realms of our creativity to enjoy a dinner full of laughter and great fall flavours. Anyhow, so we are sitting down, bottle of Portuguese Wine and a dinner fit for Kings, and all of a sudden I start to take a sip of the delicious velvety enchantress out of my stemless Riedel glass when all of a sudden Dan looks at me and straight faced asks "do you think that there it is against our culture that we are eating Pork Chops??? you know, I am Portuguese!!...." I nearly spat my wine out (which would be against cultural obligations as well as many laws that I personally abide!) I couldn't believe it though, Pork Chops, like Portuguese are called Pork Chops? Almost like one of my kids favorite movies, SharkTale, you see under the ocean the lifestlye that the fish have...it's better than the Upper West Side of New York, complete with a Sushi restaurant, with the head chef being a Tuna. Completely funny if you ask me. My answer a simple smile and head shake. God I love this man! I know...who cares about banter, lets get to the good stuff... Braised Pork Chops served ontop of Simple Steamed Broccoli with Essence of Vanilla Mashed Potatos. The wine pairing for the evening... Colleja Douro Reserva Red 2004. This wine from the vintages selection at the LCBO aka. Heaven. It's a great buy for a gift and for enjoyment; however, in these economic times actually committing to an every day drinking wine - may not be budget friendly at$17.95 per btl. So we take some chicken stock cubes (I make a bunch of stock and freeze it into ice cubes to make portioning it way easier) and it is likely about 10 that I use in a big skillet and I add garlic, white wine (cooking) and the big meaty pork chops. I get the inferno up to about 450 degrees and add them in. I want the braising to take a while to get the meat tender so I keep it in the oven for a good 2 hours or so. I also season the meat with S&P and EVOO (these are my favorite food accessories if you haven't noticed yet). We take the red potatoes and boil them (no there isn't a science to this); however, for my tip of the day ****after you drain the potatos and put them back in your pot; place the pot back on the heat to allow any moisture that didn't drain to evaportate. This will also allow whatever you add to your smashers to melt into the potatoes nicely. Tonight, we wanted to do something a little different. So I always add about 1 - 2 cups of sour cream (depending on the amount of people eating) and then I added in some scrapings from the inside of the vanilla bean. If you dont have this in your fridge waiting to be used, you can use a bit of vanilla extract or oil or powder; however, the actual pod gives it such a great flavour. I would totally reccommend adding vanilla beans to your grocery list because I gaurantee you that I could make use of it in every meal for a week! Back to the taters...so add the vanilla, sour cream, olive oil, and S & P and smash em up! For veg, I took broccoli and steamed it. I like to gently toss it in EVOO afterwards and season to taste with S & P; but nothing special. I am a firm believer of keeping it simple. You dont want to overdo your meals with too much of anything (aside from laughter and wine -whatever if your priority). My preference a happy balance of each! If anyone actually reads this, I hope to hear from you soon! My friend David at work and I are planning a wine escape to Niagara on the Lake and then do some local support with some farmers and market stands upcoming so I can't wait to share with you all about that...we will be cooking afterwards also, so I'll keep you all posted for sure. This weekend, GIRLS NIGHT ON SATURDAY!!! I can't wait. My bestie and I are going into the city to cause a rucus! For dinner, we are deciding where we are going, and then to see hottie country singer Keith Urban at the ACC! It'll be a great evening out and I can't wait to see her. We literally get together once every 6 months which is beyond wrong, but cocktails are a must, great outfits essential and I will share it all very soon! Happy reading and if you dont have one in hand GO GET A FRIGGEN DRINK already!!!