Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer, fitness, and food

Summer has settled into a rhythm around here. It's hot and muggy outside. I'm keeping myself occupied indoors with housekeeping, organizing, and sewing. Grandad has been in Houston all week, so it's been extremely quiet. He arrived home just before midnight last night after his flight was delayed by six hours.

My mother-in-law is still in the hospital. She has been moved to the rehab floor of  Christus Spohn Shoreline Hospital where she is receiving therapy three times a day. They make her work very hard and she doesn't like it much. She is of the generation of women who has never done any kind of a work out except that which you get from raising five kids. This is a different kind of hard work. She was kind of disheartened on Tuesday when they told her she would have to be there at least one more week. They explained that she can't go home until she is able to take care of her personal needs including showering, dressing, and going to the bathroom on her own. That has given her something to work towards and her spirit of determination seems renewed. She has also begun to welcome visitors and answer the phone in her room. Connecting with people seems to really be helping. I'm so glad she's finally decided it's okay.

In an effort to keep our gasoline consumption low, I don't make special trips to the hospital unless she needs something. Grandad visits every day on his lunch break and I visit if I'm going to be in town so I can combine my trips. It's only 16 miles from our house on the interstate, but it adds up after a few days. That usually means I visit three to four times a week.

I'm trying to work some exercise into my summer routine. My next-door neighbor and I have been walking every other day this week. We're starting out around 8 a.m. and walking about an hour. It's very hot by the time we get back. Next week we are going to switch to an hour-long session in the pool in nearby Odem. They have an hour from 8-9 every morning set aside for senior citizens to pool walk or do water aerobics. It should at least be cooler. I'll let you know how it goes. My goal is to get 25-30 pounds off this summer and get back into my size 12 jeans. Since I generally eat healthy, I know that I've got to get back to exercising.

And, speaking of eating, I've been meaning to share this recipe for quite a while. It is adapted from an Alton Brown recipe. The first time I made it, I followed Alton's recipe exactly. It was too peppery for both of us, so here is my adapted recipe for Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops.
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda
2 tablespoons black peppercorns, slightly crushed
1 pound ice
4 (1 to 1 1/2-inch thick) pork chops
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 ounces dried apple slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, julienned
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine the chicken broth, ½ cup kosher salt, brown sugar Splenda and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Cook just until the salt and sugar dissolve, then remove from the heat and add the ice. Place the pork chops into a 2-gallon zip-top bag along with the mixture and seal. Place in a plastic container and refrigerate at least three hours. (You can let it marinate overnight.)

Remove the chops from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Season on both sides with the kosher salt and set aside.

Place the apples in the slow cooker.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the pork chops on both sides until golden brown, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side. Once browned, place the pork chops into the slow cooker atop the apples. Spread the sliced onions on top of the pork chops.

Add the chicken broth to the skillet to deglaze. Add the black pepper and thyme and stir to combine. Pour broth mixture into slow cooker. Cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low.
I hope you're all having a great summer. I'm working on my plans for "Grams Camp" which will be sometime later this summer. It's certain to include a trip to Cole Park's new children's play area, the Texas State Aquarium, a visit with Great-Grandma, nightly drives over Corpus Christi's "Rainbow Bridge," and plenty of time for cuddling and reading. This year it will be a little more of a challenge with both a one-year old and a three-year old, but I'm looking forward to it. How could it be anything but fun, fun, fun with these two? I'll put my plans in a detailed post later.

What are you planning this summer?


  1. I'm in school ALL SUMMER. yeikes.

    But we took the boys to Austin last weekend -- very fun to visit the capitol and look at Texas history.

    we'll wing the rest!

  2. The recipe sounds awesome...though I have bad memories of an EXPENSIVE peppercorn steak that lead to a broken tooth and a bridge; not exactly the best anniversary dinner ever. But I can overcome that in order to try your pork chops. Sounds yummy.

    I look forward to the Grandma Camp post. I have my grandsons (4 and 1) the last week of June and though I'm not officially calling it Grandma Camp, that's pretty much what it is since their parents will not be joining us for most of the week. Hmmm...maybe I *will* call it Grandma Camp. You got me thinking...I already have lots of activities set so I just may have to do that. Will keep ya posted.

    Enjoy the walks AND your grandma camp! (And stay cool!)