Two Twinkies, jammy tomatoes

tomato jam 175
Reducing tomatoes to jam-like consistency. Chops from Brushy Creek Farms in Union Grove (NC).

One feels odd, to say the least, taking diet words of wisdom from comic Louis C.K., but in the April 25 issue of Rolling Stone, he does talk sensibly about anxiety and eating. When asked if it helped to realize that his compulsive eating was just self medicating anxiety, he answers: “Oh, definitely. Once you say that to yourself, ‘Oh, this is anxiety,’ you get to say to yourself, ‘Why am I anxious?’ because when something’s bothering you, (if) you don’t name it, you just start eating something. I’m still going to eat the two Twinkies, but when I start opening the second package, I say to myself, ‘What’s going on, buddy?’ That will get me to two Twinkies instead of eight.”

The trick is that you not say, “Shut up, bitch,” when you ask yourself what’s going on. I belong to a generation that wasn’t supposed to acknowledge we even had bodies, let alone listen to them.

But in the last year or so, I’ve tried listening. Amazing how many times sitting down with a book, going outside and planting some basil, drinking water or coffee, works just as well as junk food to soothe a stressed psyche.

Or planting tomatoes, everyone’s favorite vegetable from backyard gardens.  While we wait for nights without frost, I bought a box of grape tomatoes from faraway. This easy recipe from the April issue of Real Simple magazine justifies the non-local purchase (in my mind, anyway). The grits, of course, were (was?) my favorite part of the meal, but the tomatoes, the healthiest. And this is a good way to use a lot when your own  tomato plants overflow, say, in August.

Pork chops with cheesy grits and jammy tomatoes

1 cup quick-cooking (not instant) grits

2 ounces Cheddar (about 1/2 cup)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and pepper

4 bone-in pork chops (1 inch thick; about 2-1/2 pounds total)**

1 teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup cider vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

**I used thinner chops from a local farmer and adjusted cooking time accordingly.

Cook grits according to package directions, stirring in the cheese, butter and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper during last minute of cooking.Meanwhile season pork with paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side; remove and set aside to rest.

Add tomatoes, vinegar and sugar to drippings in skillet and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes are soft and the liquid is syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve pork with tomatoes and grits. Sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings, 645 calories (that’s with 10 ounces pork and bone each), 26 g fat. Because I cooked only 2 servings of pork and tomatoes, I was able to have leftover grits for breakfast several mornings. Yum.

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