Our afternoon trip to Gibbs Farm gave us a glimpse into the nineteenth century and the everyday life of the pioneers and the Dakota. The Pioneer Tour and our day at Gibbs Farm ended in the kitchen where we learned Mrs. Gibbs made 6 loaves of bread a day in the heat of summer to feed the farm hands- and yeast and butter! She also turned ash into lye, made candles out of beeswax, and cooked three meals a day, not to mention gardening, housecleaning, clothes washing (by hand!), ironing, and child-rearing, all the while water was carried from a well and wood fires needed tending. Mrs. Gibbs was fortunate to have children who helped with chores (note to self: must get on that), yet she was no doubt one very busy lady. With her daily life fresh in my mind I rushed home to cook dinner, not a task I relished after a long day out and about, yet the chore seemed monumentally easy compared to the kitchen toils of Mrs. Gibbs. I mean, electricity, running water, store-bought essentials- life is good, no complaints here! I proceeded to cook a down-home meat and potato meal, a meal akin to those that graced the table of the Gibbs household. And I must say, even by today’s standards and advancements, the meal is easy, super easy when you compare it to the pantheon of home cooked meals that have come before.
The meal itself was easy to put together, but that’s not to say I didn’t have my own kitchen toils to attend to, namely, two very hungry and tired munchkins. I had exactly 30 minutes to get a meal on the table or it would be all out bedlam. With the oven preheating the countdown was on, and by the time the oven came to temp, I had better be ready to pop in the food. The almost three-year-old wanted to help, which slowed down the process considerably and meant added mess, but it also distracted her (good), though her chatter with a bit of whine distracted me (bad when these days I need all the brain power I can muster). As we team chopped potatoes and measured the spice mix, the fourteen-month-old decided to incessantly and repeatedly tell me how much she wanted dinner now, now, now in her baby wordless whine. Despite the obstacles, the potatoes and corn were in the oven in a matter of minutes. And with the spice mixture doing double duty, I had the pork chops seasoned and ready to cook with lots of time to spare. So I placated the children, unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the lunch and pre-dinner dishes and only then fried the pork. Minutes later, everything was done and the kids were finally quiet, stuffing their faces. The verdict: the toddler kept asking for more “chicken” and proceeded to eat a chop and a half, more than either parent and more meat than she’s ever eaten, and the baby ate everything on her plate (a lot!) and nothing ended up on the floor (a Saturday miracle).
The pork’s quick dip in seasoned flour makes it crispy and bursting with flavor -the spice mixture is so tasty! Though the spice mixture is the same for the pork and potatoes, the potatoes accent different spices and have a nuanced take on the spice mixture, complimenting the pork perfectly. Corn on the cob rounds out the meal and is so easy to make-it roasts alongside the potatoes. This is good, basic, flavorful food. The meal comes together seamlessly and is well-received. I even put foil on the baking sheet for a no-fuss clean-up. A complete meal ready in under 30 minutes and it’s kid-approved, that really is super in my book.