Grill-Top Dinner

Grilling and summer — a match made in heaven. There’s just something about having friends over for that good old fashioned cookout in the summer. The only thing is when you’re in the middle of New York City with no back yard, you don’t have that luxury; but having a stove and some friends is still a great substitute. On tap for tonight’s grill (stove) top menu is Maple-Mustard Pork Chops with Grilled Apples, Mom’s Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad, and 3-Bean Salad. Sounds like the perfect menu for a summer cook-out (indoors).

It felt good to finally be able to cook again after a week and a half with no stove. The stove in my apartment breathed it’s last and died on us. RIP stove ??/??/1920-07/05/2016. Once we got our stove replaced this past Friday, we knew we had to celebrate with EVOO, and that’s exactly what we did!

This cooking adventure started out with our trip to the grocery store, of course. After 2 very expensive EVOO meals spent at Food Emporium, we decided that that place was not worth our money and headed back to the original grocery store: Trader Joe’s. Oh, Trader Joe’s I missed you so. Lyss and I headed down to Trader Joe’s on 22nd and 6th all the way from our apartment on 49th and 9th. This is the first grocery trip that involved us traveling via subway. Let me tell you something – subway stations in the summer are not fun. The best way to describe them is stepping into a hot sauna with 100 people you don’t know and an overwhelming smell of B.O. Usually the subway cars have air conditioning, but our car, for some God forsaken reason, did not have any air. I thought I was being put in my grave; but luckily, 15 minutes later, we emerged from the depths of hell and scurried into Trader Joe’s.

Being back in this grocery store was like visiting a long lost friend: I had never been so happy to be back. We grabbed almost every item, but not all because when does Trader Joe’s ever have all the ingredients needed? Then we happily went to the checkout knowing that we saved ourselves $50. Of course, we had to make a stop at Fairway for the Golden Delicious apples, and the pork chops.

Now came the most difficult part: getting all of our heavy groceries back home. Carrying groceries on a subway is not the most pleasant experience ever. We crammed back into the crowded subway and I held onto my purchases like they were my new infant babies. I especially kept my eyes peeled for homeless men because I felt like they were gonna sneak in and pick pocket one of my ingredients. Once we got off at our subway stop it was like being on an obstacle course and our prize was making it home. I already have walk rage toward people that walk so damn slow in New York… there are people with places to be and who can’t afford to get stuck behind slow asses. Add 20 pounds of groceries to be carried, and the amount of slow asses increases by 200%. My inner mean girl came out when I yelled at some people to get out of my way…I’m not even sorry about it, I felt like my arms were going to fall off! Thankfully, we made it home. I was dripping so much sweat, it looked like I had just run a marathon. I definitely won the marathon though, and the prize was saving $$$ thanks to Trader Joe’s.

Lyss and I chilled out until 7 when Mel and Amy came over to cook. We started out with our ritual of chopping everything before we got into the real work. We split the recipes up this time: Lyss and I took care of the pork chops and apples, while Mel and Amy took care of the potato salad and bean salad. We had a great system going on, and we made everything in a timely manner with no mishaps! Such a great cooking experience.

Before we knew it, it was time to eat. Before all of us had a plate, Amy was already digging in and raving about the food, so we were getting pretty hyped to eat.

So, time for my personal moment of truth. 3..2..1…Those pork chops!!! Delish! The sauce that was made was sweet and savory all at the same time. I didn’t feel like I was eating a pork chop, I just felt like I was eating heaven. When I paired the chop with the grilled apples…no words. Just the perfect combination. As for the potato salad…not bad, but nothing special. I felt like I had tasted something extremely similar in a past EVOO recipe. The bean salad…bleh. I am not a bean person at all. I could only take one bite and that was enough for me.

Everyone else loved everything! Of course, everyone had their own favorite dish, but all in all this meal was a hit! To top it all off, Mel made us brownies. The perfect ending to another great cooking spree with some of my best friends.

Now time to rate everything! Let’s start with the Maple-Mustard Pork Chops with Grilled Apples…this dish wins ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts altogether. Great combination of savory and sweet, but the downside for me was that the pork chops were a little over-cooked, they were a little tough to chew. The flavors all meshed perfectly so A+ for flavor. Mom’s Oil and Vinegar Potato Salad receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. Again, not too shabby, but nothing special. There was a lot of red wine vinegar in this recipe which tied all of the flavors together. Rachael Ray assures that leftovers only get better so I have high expectations for this dish in the next week. Finally, the 3-Bean Salad receives ♥♥ (2) hearts. Although, I absolutely did not like the salad, Lyss loved it and said it was amazing. I have to remember I’m not the only one test tasting the cooking, and if my friends like it, it deserves a higher rating. Don’t knock it till you try it folks.

I promise I will be posting weekly now that I have a new stove. Thank you all for reading, you’re the best!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

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