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These delicious maple glazed pork chops are so easy to make and loved by my whole family. The recipe to make them can be very economical, too! I’m going to show you how in this post today but first I have a little story from this past summer. Alright, it isn’t that little. It’s rather long winded so if you’d rather just get right to the pork chop making then scroll down until the food stuff starts. Otherwise, take a bathroom break and grab some coffee…
We dearly love Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is truly one of the most family friendly cities we have ever been to, and that is standing it up against Orlando, too! I could happily spend a week just meandering around downtown with the kids and then another week splitting time between the Tennessee Aquarium and Lake Winnie.
When we headed up for a day trip not too long ago, everyone was thrilled and looking forward to our day. As we stood in line getting our tickets to the Aquarium, Brady saw a sign for TORNADO ALLEY 3D and he and Ricky about had a cow fit wanting to go. Alright, they didn’t have a complete cow fit but thanks to the pleading eyes cast towards me and Katy along with the case they built about how long they’d wanted to see this movie and now they finally had their big chance, the girls agreed to go to a guy movie. Now don’t anyone start in on how Tornado Alley 3D isn’t just a guy movie. I’m talking about my family here and in my family it’s as guy of a movie as it gets.
We purchased tickets for the 5:00 PM show so that it could be the last thing we did before heading home.
After several hours visiting both wings of the massive Tennessee Aquarium, we spent another few hours playing around in the waterways outside of the aquarium and then headed to Big River Grille to eat before catching this Imax weather thing Ricky and Brady were so crazy about.
At the theater, I had a bad feeling going in but kept that to myself. Weather movies just aren’t my thing but I placated myself by deciding to take a nice little nap while everyone else watched it. About ten minutes in though, Katy was cowering and asking when it was going to be over and I was wondering what on earth would possess anyone who lives in a tornado area to bring their children to see this movie. It was kind of like taking your kids to see Jaws before going deep sea diving. It was horrible. It wasn’t that it was bad from a standpoint of production or even presentation, that was top notch. Even the photography as beautiful. But to a kid or even many adults, it was somewhat traumatizing.
“Is it over yet Ma? Do you promise we don’t live there?” came a tiny plea from my daughter as she clung to my arm.
I didn’t exactly lie. We don’t live in Kansas.
“No Baby, we don’t get tornadoes like that.”
Because, you know, tornadoes like that would be in Kansas, tornadoes in Alabama are different because…they’re in Alabama.
We FINALLY got out of there and while Ricky and Brady were thrilled and Katy Rose and I just wanted to find a sunny spot and escape from forty five minutes of three dimensional, surround sound, tornadic destruction of homes and lives. I vowed to make them sit through the live stage presentation of the Little Mermaid musical next time we go to disney world so y’all remind me.
As Ricky pulled onto the interstate heading home, I casually pulled up Facebook on my phone and saw several people in our town had posted about tornado warnings. Seriously, this wasn’t happening. What are the chances of taking your kids to a traumatic viewing of tornado fury and then a big old batch of tornadoes break out where you live on that very same day…directly following the movie? These things can only happen to me sometimes.
So I looked to make sure the kids were chatting and otherwise occupied and seeing that they were, I leaned over and discreetly told my husband “There are tornado warnings back home”.
He responded with “Huh?”
So I leaned in closer to his ear and said a little louder “There are tornado warnings back home.”
He looked annoyed and said “I can’t hear you, just a minute”
With that he turned the radio off and called out “Kids, y’all be quiet, Mama has something she wants to tell us”
I turned to see every eye in the car on me. “Nothing” I said and turned back forward, resigning to just keep an eye on the weather myself.
Within minutes the sky began to look mean. Not just grumpy, but good and dark and downright angry.
Ricky said “You might need to check the weather.”
Knowing exactly how this would go if I tried to tell him again I just said “Already did. We’re fine.”
I didn’t know he had some little app on his phone that tells him about warnings and soon it started pinging for all it’s worth and sending him little text messages. The very first one he got, he read aloud and said in his always booming voice “There are tornado warnings back home, looks like we’re driving right into it.”
Katy’s voice from the back was a wail of anxiety “Tornadoes?”
I took a deep breath and decided that killing him while he was driving would not be a good idea. Besides, we were packed pretty tight in the vehicle and it would be difficult to transport the body to a good hiding place in the woods without being obvious. I’d need to get a tarp, a shovel, and preferably some help, and after a day romping around with the kids I was just too tired to carry out the act right now. Ricky is lucky I live my days to the fullest sometimes. I suppose I could say the same of him too, though.
I kept my thoughts to myself as he continued to ramble off details of the impending doom.
My husband takes tornado warnings far more seriously than I do. You see, I’m from another time when a warning meant there was a tornado. A watch meant that there were tornadic conditions and to be on alert, and when you heard a warning you got the heck out of Dodge right skippy like.
Then they changed it. I have no idea why, but basically a tornado warning is now what a watch used to be and there is nothing beyond a warning, which I think is entirely neccesary, but the National Weather Advisory Big Dogs have yet to take my opinion under consideration. I’m still holding out hope that eventually they’ll have three levels though: Tornado Watch, Tornado Warning and a Tornado Warning-we’rereallyseriousthistime.
So Ricky was holding his phone up to his ear listening to these warnings and rattling them off verbatim in a voice loud enough so that everyone can hear. Now, if I was piloting this ship, I’d be speaking in hushed tones or just hand my phone over to my wife for her to be in charge of keeping up to date on notifications but as my early mutiny had failed, I just had to sit back and try to calm Katy as best I could while Ricky continued to convince her we were all about to die.
Of course, that wasn’t enough.
My son, ever the aspiring and enthusiastic meterologist, got in on it and set up a mini weather hub in the back seat where he watched satellite images of the storm and kept us abreast on news of the damage caused and possible damage expected. This has always been a passion of his and he was in his element like a kid who’d been made grand marshal of the first holiday parade of the season – all while sitting right beside his sister.
Needless to say, my daughter’s anxiety increased at a rapid pace. In between a weather report from Brady and words of impending doom from my husband Katy Rose chimed in with “I really wish we didn’t see that movie today!”
“I know baby… ”
This is where the supportive wife should let it go.
“…But your daddy and your brother wanted to.”
I leveled a glare on my husband that I hoped would stop the ceaseless weather reporting and threatened to make my son Amish if he didn’t stop reporting everytime a pixel changed on the weather radar.
We had peace for a few moments until I saw on my radar that we were heading into a town which had a tornado entering it from the other end. Oh pardon me, not a tornado but a tornado possibility. We couldn’t really know if there was a tornado because they haven’t enstated my “Tornado Warning -we’rereallyseriousthistime” level yet.
I looked around me to the ditches on either side of the road. Not a structure in sight except for the occasional abandoned gas station but we were just a few miles away from Scottsboro (home of the infamous unclaimed baggage, not a big thrill for me but neat enough, and the rest of the world seems to love it. If you go, check out Geno’s pizza though, good stuff).
I imagined me throwing my body over the kids in the ditch and it just seemed kind of silly without a good long underground pipe to hold onto. You’d think they’d install long underground pipes with loops sticking up every now and then for times like this but with the way the National Weather Bureau disregards my opinion I hardly expect to be heard out by F.E.M.A. anytime soon – and I wasn’t dressed to go surfing in a funnel cloud – so I decided Scottsboro would be the place to stop and it was minutes away.
I leaned over again and calmly told my husband “We need to pull over up here at the WalMart and go in.”
He immediately replied “We don’t need to go into Walmart. We’re fine”
Which supports my theory that my husband’s initial reaction to any wisdom from me is instant denial so that he can later restate said wisdom as his own.
Don’t believe me?
Not even a minute later he announced “Kids, we’re fixing to pull over and go in this WalMart and wait out the storm”
Katy was frantic because according to the very loud and very real three dimensional horror film we’d just seen, this meant we were all about to go the way of Dorothy’s house. I’m so glad she hasn’t seen Wizard of Oz yet…
We pulled over and went into WalMart. They had all of the people huddled in the back near the layaway department and we followed suit, squeezing in as I tried to pretend this was just part of the adventure because that is what Moms are supposed to do.
Do you have people in your life who are the opposite of that? Rather than be the calm in the eye of the storm they swirl around so much that you can’t tell them apart from the storm and half the time they’re the ones kicking up funnel clouds themselves. Oh goodness I sure do! When we were little we had this one family member who, every time there was a lightning strike she’d call us and swear up and down we were all going to get electrocuted and die. She’d even break out into tears and tell us how bad it was going to be and how much she loved us. Before our dad retired from the police department her favorite way to fight boredom was calling us and telling us that he was going to die in the line of duty and how she hated to think of him laying on the ground shot.
You can’t make this stuff up.
People are crazy and in the end, the craziest ones are usually relatives but it does give us stories to pass down the generations though!
So we huddled in the layaway department and Katy was just a crying and clinging to me. “Mama, I really wish we hadn’t of see that movie. Are we gonna be alright? Is the tornado coming?”
Ricky was just now at this point realizing that perhaps the movie was not the best idea. He’s right smart a far a fellas go, but a little slow on the uptake at times.
At this point Katy Rose was just terrified and I was loving on her for all she was worth, telling her we were going to be fine and we’d all be home soon and this was just a precaution to stay on the safe side.
As she looked up towards me and a big fat tear spilled down her cheek, her eyes locked on something just past my shoulder and instantly filled with wonder. I followed her gaze to see a rainbow unicorn just past me on a shelf. “Ma! Is that a Pillow Pet Dream Light Rainbow Unicorn?”
The tears seemed to stop in that instant as she gazed in awe. “I’ve always wanted to see one of those!”
I picked it up and smiled between her and my husband “It sure is Baby and guess what? Your daddy is gonna buy it for you!”
Ricky looked repentant as he said “If I do, can I not hear anything else about the movie?” Katy nodded as she reached out and took the rainbow unicorn, holding it tightly against her chest and sitting down on the floor to properly introduce herself.
About ten minutes later we were headed home again and eventually arrived to clear skies and an intact house – with our new friend, the Rainbow Unicorn.
The next weekend, Katy and I took them to see Brave 🙂
Which, by the way, was WAY more awesome in 3-D than tornadoes.
You’ll need: 4 pork chops. Balsamic Vinegar, Maple Syrup*, Kosher Salt, and Pepper.
*You can substitute maple flavored pancake syrup or even honey and both will work just fine.
Stir your salt and pepper together.
Sprinkle each side of the pork chops with salt and pepper
Place one to two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Add pork chops and cook until browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
See all this yummy stuff on the bottom of the pan? We’re about to work that up into our sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium and pour your balsamic vinegar into the pan.
It is going to bubble and steam a lot when you add it.
Just pour it in and use a wooden spoon to stir around and gently scrape the bottom of the skillet.
Pour in your syrup and stir well.
Add in pork chops and continue cooking, stirring frequently, over medium heat until sauce is thickened and pork chops are no longer pink in the center, 7-10 minutes.
*Important notes about sauce below next picture 🙂
It’s still going to be bubbly but will look kind of like this. Pancake syrup probably won’t be as dark but color is not what we’re looking for here, it’s thickness.
Now this will most likely take the full ten minutes and maybe even a few more if you are using pancake syrup, but I find that maple thickens up a little bit faster so it will be more like seven.
It is hard to tell when the sauce is thickened because it will still be very fluid while it’s hot. When I think we’re there I spoon a little sauce over my pork chop to see if it is thick. Once it is, remove your pan from the heat and allow it to sit for about five minutes, then rub each pork chop in the glaze on both sides before removing to serving plates.
- 4 pork chops, about ¾ inch thick
- 1 cup maple syrup or maple flavored pancake syrup
- ⅓ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Place oil in large skillet over medium high heat while you prepare the pork chops.
- Mix together the salt and pepper and sprinkle both sides of each pork chop.
- Place pork chops in hot skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until browned.
- Remove pork chops and set aside.
- Add vinegar to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon to remove all bits from the bottom.
- Add syrup and stir until well combined.
- Return pork chops to pan and continue cooking until glaze is thickened and pork chops are no longer pink in the center, 7-10 minutes. See post for helpful hints on how to tell when glaze is done.
- Remove pan from heat and allow to rest five minutes. Before removing pork chops, rub each side in the glaze to coat well and then remove to serving plates.
You know how folks are always saying “That tornado sounded just like a train!”. I wonder, when Southerners first saw a train, did anyone go back and report “That train sounded just like a tornado!” ~Christy Jordan