Confession No. 50 — Want nice things? Get rid of the children. And the dogs.

I love (my own) children. Dogs too.

My little angels are reminders of what once was. Except this time around, I get to watch and enjoy … for the most part. And the dogs? Well, they’ve never told me that they hate me. And they rarely complain.

But everything in life comes at a price. Children and dogs are among the most expensive.

Like most people, I like nice things. I’ve managed to acquire a few nice possessions here and there in my 40-plus years. I’ve never, however, managed to keep the bulk of them in nice condition.

Blame the kids. And the four-legged barkers.

Examples of ruin seem to rear their ugly heads all too often. During the past year, dogs have been responsible for chewing to pieces my Bose headphones, digging up part of my garden and destroying a patch of St. Augustine outside our back doors. In all fairness, Maggie (our older border collie mix) hasn’t wreaked much havoc since her puppy days — other than spreading trash around the kitchen and chewing up a few ketchup-stained paper plates. But Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (an English Bulldog/boxer mix) is at least as naughty as the dog in ‘Marley & Me.’

And then there is the wreckage left behind by the upright walkers who share our last name.

Just this past week, as my wife was folding our brand new plush bath towels, she came across a large dark stain — about the size of a football.

“I can’t believe this,” she said, holding the towel so that I could see the stain.

“Is that a stain?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she responded “and this was the first time I’ve washed these.”

“Well, one of our kids or the damn dogs … you know we can’t have anything nice.”

And, while my proclamation may be a bit extreme, it’s often how I feel.

My night stand has, for years, featured the carved initials of our oldest daughter. The same daughter, years ago, fell asleep in the backseat of the car. But before she nodded off, she placed a large unwrapped Tangy Taffy (now sold as Laffy Taffy) on the grey cloth seat. As the story goes, no one saw the candy as we unbuckled her to bring her in the house. It began to melt and become a permanent part of the interior as soon as the sun rose the following morning.

Goodbye, nice headphones. I will miss you.

The youngest daughter has carved an equally ruinous path, including burned and warped pans (she’s an aspiring chef) and what seems like dozens of cracked iPod screens. Her computers through the years have been infected with more viruses than your average refugee camp resident.

Our son’s calamitous claim to fame, other than the doors he destroyed during the temper tantrums of his terrible twos, threes and fours, was the power button of our family room television. He pressed it so hard, it ended up disappearing into the TV. I’ve still not figured that one out.

The grandson, whom we are raising, is eons ahead of everyone who came before him. Just in the past few months, he’s managed to rip down the (ceiling installed) TV in my wife’s SUV, and leave his mark with a Sharpie pen throughout the property. Our garage door seriously has the appearance of rail boxcars, with graffiti and gang symbols.

We’re not entirely sure which child decided to paint something (with rust-colored spray) on the concrete curb in front of our home. But I do know that our vehicles have been marked with deep scratches that were, interestingly, the same height as everyone’s bicycle handlebars. Oh, the humanity!

If memory serves me, my parents had similar feelings.

As a 7-year-old, I decided one day to explore the family car — a blue Datsun 610 station wagon with white vinyl interior. I quickly found the cigarette lighter and learned how to make it glow red-hot. I can’t for the life of me remember what next went through my mind, but I do remember making four burner-sized holes on the dashboard.

My wife has a similar recollection of her destructive action having lasting effects. At age 6, she graced a neighbor’s new concrete patio with her initials.

What were we thinking? Probably the same thing as our children.

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A version of the following recipe was featured in Cuisine at Home about 10 years ago. While my breading recipe/technique is almost identical to theirs, I jazzed up the sauce with basil and garlic. The biggest difference between our versions is that I use thick bone-in pork chops, whereas they use skinless chicken breast halves. If you decide to replace the pork with chicken, use either bone-in split breasts or dark meat — unless, like the Cuisine at Home folks, you prefer your chicken on the dry side.

Sun-dried Tomato Crusted Pork Chops w/ Butter-Caper Sauce

Less than an hour to the table. And this recipe/technique also produces a succulent piece of chicken. Just make sure you use a bone-in split breast.

4 – Pork loin rib chops, bone-in, about 1 inch thick
Black pepper and Kosher salt

1/2 cup – All-purpose flour
2 – eggs, beaten
2 TB – water
All-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)

Vegetable oil (about 1/8 cup)

Breading
2 cups – Coarse bread crumbs, made from French bread
1/2 cup – Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
4 cloves – Garlic, peeled

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a food processor, pulse coarse bread crumbs with sun-dried tomatoes and garlic until combined. (Crumbs will have a red tint.) Place mixture in large bowl or disposable bag. In a separate bowl, beat eggs and water.

Heat skillet to medium-high (I use cast iron)** with vegetable oil.

Season chops with salt and pepper, as desired, then dredge in flour. Dip dredged chops in egg mixture, then transfer to sun-dried tomato breadcrumbs, pressing to coat all sides.

Carefully place chops in preheated skillet. Cook for about 3 minutes and turn. After another 3 minutes, or so, place skillet on the middle rack in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, carefully flipping chops about halfway through. Remove from oven and allow chops to rest in skillet while making the sauce.

**Using a standard non-cast iron skillet is fine. Just use a glass baking dish to finish off chops in the oven, and be prepared to allow them to cook for additional 5-10 minutes.

Butter-Caper Sauce

1 cup – Dry white wine
2 TB – Capers, crushed
2 TB – Lemon juice, or Meyer Lemon juice
1 tsp – Dried basil (or 1 TB fresh basil, chopped)
3 cloves – Garlic, minced
1/4 cup – Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
1 tsp – Kosher salt

1/2 cup – Unsalted butter, cold and sliced

In a medium saucepan, bring wine and basil to a boil. Reduce by about half. Add capers, lemon juice and garlic, then turn heat to low. Add sun-dried tomatoes and salt, then add butter — a pat at a time — whisking each one to melt.

Top each chop with a healthy ladle-full of the sauce. Tastes great with a side of angel hair pasta and fresh tomatoes and a green vegetable. Combined prep and cooking time is less than an hour. Serves four people.

This recipe was inspired by ‘Cuisine at Home.’

Comments

  1. Sorry to laugh at your expense but I can’t help it! ;)

  2. I feel so bad. My episode was a chewed up computer plug (definitely a must have). And the bad part is it wasn’t my dog, so I could beat the crap out of it, not that I would have done that. And I am going to make your pork loin with the caper butter, looks so good.

  3. The whole recipe sounds amazing, but particularly that sauce, I LOVE capers.
    Cute story too, I have only one dog (but no children, yet?) and he was only a chewer as a puppy, nothing major, except baseboards, dresser knobs, and one pair of majorly clearance Coach shoes that I didn’t wear very many times. I love my dog though.

  4. The part about the TV button disappearing did make me laugh out loud, sorry ;)

  5. Reblogged this on creative noshing and commented:
    This post made me laugh. Some of you may find it familiar territory. Anyway, enjoy one of my favorite blogs!

  6. juanitascocina says:

    I’ve stopped buying nice things. And when I do, I hide them.

  7. juanitascocina says:

    Forgot to tell ya’, I nominated you for the Addictive Blog Award.

    http://jcocina.com/?p=2982

  8. At age six…I almost burned a barn down. What can I say….I’m a bad seed.
    R

  9. Dear Lord,

    Please, after blessing me with three of the most destructive children in the universe, do not bestow upon me a grandchild before I am rid of the trio of chaos.

    Amen

    Adam – I feel your pain. As did my mother and likely her mother before her. You are a hero and a saint taking on the grandbaby, Pork chops look like they belong in my belly.

    Take Care,

    TWTG

  10. I can understand getting rid of the children, but the dogs………..Oh, no, not the dogs!

  11. Oh my, do I have stories about kids and dogs! Hahahaha! I had five acres, three dogs, two cats, a bird, fish, and two children. But now I”m an empty nester, and only one old dog left :-( Love and laugh while you can!! Great story…. and I am LOVING the pork chop recipe! Will try soon!

  12. My Daughter slammed her door once.
    I told her if she did it again, I would take it off.
    She did.
    I did.
    It was only going to be for a month, but ended up being about six because I couldn’t get it back on.
    She never slammed a door again.
    Oh the indignities of no privacy when you are ten.

    Pork Chop looks good!

    Have a Joyful Day

    Charlie

    • Charlie – You are my hero!

      • Charlie says:

        LoL! You’ve made my day.

        When I first had children my girlfriend who already had three told me “Never make a threat you are not prepared to carry through.
        I took it to heart and it never failed me.

      • Charlie says:

        I had a game plan for anger.

        If I got really angry which wasn’t much (no need) I would say to the perpetrator “You go to your room and I’ll go to mine.”

        We would and I would cool down and then deal with the situation.

        When I did this they really knew they were in BIG Trouble.

        It worked!

        :~D

  13. This truly cracked me up & I only have 1 daughter, but every time I look at that red wine vinaigrette stain in the middle of the rug… And my dog ate my floor but that was awesome because I’ve hated that stupid floor from the moment it went down. I look at these little misadventures as opportunities to replace stuff that’s seen better days or that I never liked in the first place. So these are all opportunities Adam.
    And that caper sauce – must try that one for sure.

    • Diane – I only wish the dog had chewed up the $2 headphones vs. the $150 pair. ;-)

      • How nice, a dog with a refined palate. I love how my daughter was visiting last week & made a comment about how we should replace our kitchen cabinets because the doors were all “droopy”. You know the doors that kids hang off of while they’re deciding that what they’re looking for isn’t in the cabinet? Do you think they really forget? I mean dogs, they eat your headphones,10 minutes later they’re looking for another pair…but your kids?

  14. Almost forgot the days my old dog Bear used to deliberately pick a zucchini and then come over and drop it by my feet while I was working in another part of the garden because he wanted play. I taught him this the first time he got in the garden and I started running after him trying to get a zucchini out of his mouth. That was a really fun game I taught him!

  15. Thanks for visiting my blog. The dog is long gone and so are the children – well, the children just out of the house and on their own. The stories are so familiar. Many days I wish I had a little button to push to bring back a day or two to experience it all over again.

  16. I absolutely love your mix of stories and food. in fact I loved it so much I’m passing a blog award your way – http://maplecanopy.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/who-me/

  17. Charlie says:

    Adam:
    I just wanted to let you know that I have subscribed to your post.

    Charlie

  18. One of my daughters was a prolific initial carver and a master with a sharpie wherever there was white paint.

  19. Must try this one. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Oh yummy nummy, butter-caper sauce. My family often tells of the tale of me (this was after a waterballoon fight at a neighbors house and I was 5), Our neighbor came over to tell my that, er, things were hanging from the second story window, filled with water and were white and had those old little tips at the end, ya know? I had found them in the bedside drawer of my folks and while they were not very interesting colors and tasted awful when I blew them, did fill the bill to put water in and drop down on unspecting dogs, cats, kids walking underneath. Unfortunately, the wretched things stretched all the way to the ground so childlike, I left them hanging. years later, the tale is still told. Wasted a whole months’ supply of them. I remember my mom and dad were in a wretched humor for awhile. So yeah, kids are costly in all kinds of ways. I enjoyed your blog and can hardly wait to fix those pork chops! you have another follower here!

  21. Not having children has spared us to some extent but old wood floors and a little untrained puppy wreaked some havoc. She’s 3 now and beautifully trained but, quite frankly, she’s lucky she lived to see her first birthday! :)

  22. I don’t eat pork, but damn that looks good. You can cook, man. Thanks for reading Adam. Love your photo (and your writing). Cheers, PK

  23. Hilarious! With 2 dogs and a baby on the way, I feel this is almost a fortune-telling session of my future.

    Our Presa is responsible for the destruction of at least 3 couches, and he’s the reason why we don’t have back cushions on our current couch. For some reason, I also have a feeling he’s going to think the baby’s toys are his toys. Gotta love the animals (of the 4 and 2-legged variety).

    PS – great chop recipe – capers and lemon? Muah!

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