Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dilly Mustard Pork Chops

As promised, here is my much anticipated Dilly Mustard Pork Chop recipe. I found a similar recipe on titled Dad's Pork Chops. I didn't have all the ingredients listed so I made up my own version and thus my Dilly Mustard Pork Chop recipe was born. Generally I am hesitate when it comes to pork chops. They always seem to come out extra dry when I attempt to make them, but this recipe for the other white meat is a thing of beauty. Because I am not home all nights of the week and Danny eats enough food for a small army, I make a Costco sized helping of these pork chops. We live and die by leftovers in the Lehr household.


There they are, in all their glory.

Chop it up

The other white meat

  • Half a cup of Deli Mustard -I prefer the Beaver has whole mustard seeds and a bit of delicious horseradish in it.

  • 1 cup of Dijon Mustard- Pardon me, Do you have any Grey Poupon? (or whatever store brand you want)

  • 6ish large cloves of garlic

  • 2ish tablespoons of dried dill weed

  • Coconut Oil 3-4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt

  • Pepper

  • Costco Package of bone in, thin cut, pork chops (there's usually about 12 in a package)


Preheat oven to 375

Mix both mustards, dill, a dash of salt and pepper, and chopped garlic in a bowl. Place coconut oil in large oven safe frying pan on medium heat. While the oil is heating up, salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops

Place 3-4 pork chops in the pan for 3ish minutes on each side so that the pork chop develops a hint of golden  brown color on the outside, but is not cooked all the way through. Place pork chops to the side and do the same with the rest. This helps to seal in the highly anticipated juiciness of the chops.

Dill Mustard Goodness

I love this bowl.

Oven Safe Pan

Salted and Peppered Chops

Once the last set of pork chops is done,  turn off the heat on the pan. Place a single layer of pork chops on the bottom of the pan and distribute the dill mustard mixture evenly on the tops of the chops. Make another layer of deliciousness with the next set of pork chops and add more of the mustard mixture. Repeat.  When your layering is done, (mine is three layers of meaty goodness) place the pork chops in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The more (or less) pork chops you have will obviously affect the time. If you are unsure of the doneness (is doneness a word?) of the pork chops, simply cut into one of the middle ones to make sure you aren't serving under-cooked meat....we aren't trying to impress anyone here, just feed our ravenous significant others without giving them food poisoning.

Browned chops

Single layer

Layers of heavenly pork

My oven is not very clean

No time for a pretty picture, must eat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Fabric of Our Lives

10ish months ago,  I developed a slightly embarrassing rash that is located approximately where my Xiphoid process should be. It all started when I decided to stop being such a pansy and regularly go to Crossfit Excel. While it has crossed my mind that I could possibly be allergic to exercise, this is not the case. I am allergic to the elastic in bras. While talking about bras on the inter-webs is not usually my thing, my hunt for a non allergy producing bra is comical. So with a bit of hesitation, I will forge the river and blog on.

With such a rapid, increased exposure to elastic (I was also running 3 times a week), my body decided that the elastic was attacking my skin. Now any slight exposure to elastic in my brassieres create an unattractive, itchy, miserable, rash.

I was fortunate enough to have one all cotton bra from everyone's favorite store, Target.  Because it was from Target, and it was my only one, I knew I needed to find some fast.

My other dilemma was finding all cotton sports bras.  Sports bras are tricky. I need something that flattens me like a piece of ply wood....for aerodynamic purposes and such. Besides duct tape, elastic is the only real solution to the fitness portion of my bra situation. I happened upon some cotton sports bras at Target (the elastic portion at the bottom is covered in cotton), and promptly purchased 6 of them. Because I desire minimal bounce in my fitness endevours, I am forced to wear not one, but two cotton sports bras at once. Cotton is not known for its flatten-you-like-a-pancake quality.

When it comes to a regular brassiere, I had three options: Burn my bra and become a hippie (never in a million years), be destined to the same single bra for the rest of my life (gross), or compete in the near impossible cotton bra hunt (sign me up).

My first order of business in this hypoallergenic bra hunt, was to recruit a friend. I decided upon my friend, Melisa, whom I have enough dirt on to blackmail if she ever tells anyone about my disgusting rash. Secondly, Melisa could be a professional shopper in her spare time. With my good friend in tow, we headed to JCPenny. 

I don't know why I chose JCPenny, perhaps because JCPenny screams cotton lingerie. I went to the appropriate bra section...the no frills-I've-been-married-for-7-years section, and found many bras labeled as cotton. I thoroughly inspected these bras and found that the connecting piece between the two cups was made of some sort of Lycra/elastic allergy inducing material. I asked the nice lingerie lady for help. She pointed me to the same bras that I had just been looking at. I explained my situation. She gave me two suggestions. Her first suggestion was to go to the medical supply store on McHenry because, "They have all sorts of weird things there." Thank you ma'am I already feel distraught about the situation, now you are calling me weird. She then suggested I go to Motherhood, which is a maternity clothing store, to buy nursing bras. "Nursing bras are almost always all cotton." I contemplated this for a moment. I decided that at this point in my life I really can't bring myself to walk into a maternity store and buy a nursing bra for my non nursing, childless, self. 

Next it was off to the mecca of all things lingerie, Victoria's Secret. I asked the lady where the cotton section was and she looked at me as if I were a leper. Whatever Victoria, you and your store are full of overly priced padded undergarments and your models need to go eat a steak. I walked out of the store in tears and drowned my sorrows in a cookie. (Just kidding, no cookies).

Our last hope was Macy's. Macy's is the department store of all department stores. It has to have cotton brassieres. I walked straight to the non frilly bra section and was quickly met with the same problem I had at JCPenny. I headed to the massive sale section and spotted what appeared to be the perfect bra. The all cotton Ralph Lauren bra was nestled between some crazy demi cup lacy purple number and a pair of Spanx. I quickly grabbed it and checked the size: B. Drat. I shoved past the old women and young ladies who were all looking for things to impress their dates with that evening. I glanced at the Calvin Klein section, someone who is known for his simple designs surely must have a hypoallergenic bra for my poor soul. 

There it was shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!" The all white, all cotton, bra was covered in Calvin's signature. I didn't care if I did not know this man, I needed this bra. The size was perfect and the price didn't matter (although I will admit now I spent a ridiculous amount of money on it).  I did a happy dance and high fived Melisa. I finally found my hypoallergenic bra.

Since finding the elusive cotton bra, I have discovered that I am not alone in my contact dermatitis issues. There are many websites that sell hypoallerginc bras to women with my same elastic allergy issue. You can bet I will be frequenting these websites in the near future. I am also happy to report that my contact dermatitis is completely gone thanks to you, Cotton....the fabric of my life.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On December

Some time in 2010, my creativeness slowly started diminishing. In an effort to increase blog postage I said that once a month I would write about 5 things: My favorite dress, favorite activity, favorite recipe, favorite nap, and favorite irk. Here's the first one I ever wrote:  That lasted for about 3 months, then my writing ADD took me else where. Well, you're in luck folks, I'm bringing it back (until I change my mind again). I hope you enjoy my synopsis of December 2011.

Favorite Dress: Cobalt Blue Sequin Dress

Me and my friend Emily in our formal wear.

Remember when I was obsessed with dresses: Dress to Impress? I've calmed down a bit on the dress wearing. Not that I don't love them any less, however I've been working out like a mad woman and living in Lycra....gasp. I might of only wore one dress in December, but it would of been my favorite anyways. I wore this cobalt, blue, sequined dress to our annual Crossfit Excel Christmas party. I found the dress at Express and could not avert my eyes from it's shininess. I've been a bit of a sequin kick lately. Danny wore his blue dress shirt (one of two dress shirts he owns) and we looked almost as sweet as we did on our very first date (my junior prom).

One of many prom poses.

Favorite Activity: Wined and Dined at the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco.

Danny and his Oly coach, Jon, decided to do something really sweet for their wives (both named Jessica...which got really confusing). They took us to the Nutcracker Ballet in San Francisco. I have a small confession to make. I love Christmas, but sometimes it makes me a little depressed. No matter how sweetly I decorate the tree, no matter if I have to work or not, and no matter how many times I drive around looking at the beautiful Christmas lights, it's still never quite as magical as when I was a kid. It makes me miss my childhood....not that there is anything wrong with my adulthood, but I think we can all agree, being a kid was awesome. This really sweet random act of kindness was the perfect activity to shake off my Christmas blues. The wining and dining consisted of wraps and waters from the San Ramon Safeway. The boys had good dining intentions, but we were running late. The freeway dining was, believe it or not, quite comical and probably better than any fancy restaurant in the city. The ballet was breathtaking. The building itself was so beautiful I let out a little gasp when we entered. There was even fake snow falling from the sky as we entered. The Snow Flake Dance had to be the most breathtaking of them all. When the ballet was over we hurried to the car and all four of us practiced our ballet moves. It was quite the sight to see, a couple of big time weight lifters doing pirouettes. I think I might have felt that same Christmas magic as I did when I was a child.

Favorite Recipe:  Dill Mustard Pork Chops

I'm going to be posting this delicious recipe soon....just know that it makes a boring pork chop amazing.

Favorite Nap: Christmas Afternoon Nap

Tayler enjoying his Christmas nap

I knew I was going to take a nap at some point on Christmas. I had to prep my body for a long night at work. Little did I know, that this would be the nap of all naps for the month of December. We went to my parent's for Christmas breakfast and it was nothing but lovely. Eggs, biscuits, sausage, bacon, hot chocolate, mimosas, and blueberry cream cheese bread pudding, all made for quite the feast. My gluttonous and gluten filled Christmas meal made me very sleepy. It made me so sleepy that I took a two and a half hour, nap, which is quite the departure from my usual pre work hour long nap. Danny slept like a little Christmas angel as well.

Favorite Irk: 99 South Traffic

The shopper's delight, Vintage Fair Mall, is on my way to work. Normally this is not a problem as I take the freeway past this mecca of over charged credit cards and pre teens. The month of December is a different story. Everyone and their mother's go to the mall to buy the latest and greatest Christmas gifts. This influx of traffic spills onto the freeway causing Christmas chaos, when all I want to do is get to work and save lives. As soon as Black Friday hits, I know I have to leave for work 5-10 minutes earlier to adjust for traffic. This does not make me happy. As soon as December 26th comes around I breathe a sigh of relief. An extra 5-10 minutes at home is always appreciated.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Making it Happen

I don't know how I feel about New Year's resolutions. I am continually reflecting on life and setting new goals for myself, I don't need the number 11 to turn into a 12 to do that. However, I do think that writing down goals and telling people makes one far more likely to achieve those goals. Accountability is a big motivator. So for New Year's sake, I will jump on board with a few resolutions of my own.

1. Blog more often -I've been slacking....big time. I love writing and apparently, we should do what we love.  I don't expect the New York Times to be calling me up anytime soon, so I better keep on blogging.

2. Get back to Paleo-I have to say I usually eat very clean. I am proud of myself for the progress I made last year. The holiday season got a little sketchy, but I'm back to my meat and veggies and feeling so good about it. Six pack (of abs, not beer) here I come.

3. Increase my back squat by 30 pounds -With my new oly shoes and simply showing up to the gym regularly this will happen in no time. When you have good form and a giant caboose, squats are easy peasy.

4. New Car- White Lightening (My 2002 Nissan Sentra) is getting pretty old. I've had her since high school when my dear dad decided I should have a more reliable car than a 1990 something teal green Ford Aspire hatchback that shook anytime I went past 60 miles an hour. White Lightening has been good to me, but I'm ready for an upgrade.

The first car I ever owned... fondly called, The Turtle.

5. Fertility- I need a kid of my own. I needed one a year ago, but God had other plans. Hoping and praying that this will be the year that Danny and I finally expand our little family. Any prayers/positive vibes/ finger crossings would be much appreciated.

6. Redo our office- It's a hodge podge of hand me down furniture and bulletin boards. I am sick of looking at the mismatched woods, creepy blue/grey carpet, and white walls. A trip to Home Depot and Ikea is in the works as we speak....perhaps I'll even blog about it.

With that said, I better get to getting on these resolutions...errr I mean goals.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash

Recently I was blessed with an abundance of butternut squash (the most heavenly squash in the world). Every fall, like clockwork, I get an insatiable appetite for all things butternutty. Last fall, it was my recipe for roasted rosemary and balsamic vinegar squash. This year, it's my Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash. You can have it for breakfast or have it for dinner (this recipe really is a winner). I like it so much, my skin is starting to have a slightly orange hue. How Jersey Shore of me.

One whole butternut squash
Olive oil
Coconut oil (optional)
Butter from grass fed cows (Kerrygold)
Massive amount of cinnamon
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Sea salt

Santa and Mrs. Claus, supervising

Santa loves nutmeg

Mrs. Claus is more of an olive oil lady

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Cut butternut squash in half width wise then length wise so that there are 4 large pieces left.  Spoon out seeds and discard. With a heavy duty vegetable peeler or knife, peel the annoyingly thick skin of the squash. Proceed to cut the squash into approximately one inch cubes. You can also take the easy way out and buy pre cubed squash, but what's the fun in that? Spread the cubed squash evenly on the cookie sheet. 

Sprinkle with a lot of cinnamon (I'm not really into measuring my ingredients). Sprinkle with some chili powder, a small amount of cayenne pepper, a lot of sea salt, and pepper to taste. Add a few pinches of allspice and nutmeg. Finish your seasoning extravaganza with a sprinkle of paprika. Of note: The main flavoring is cinnamon, the other spices play more of a supporting role in this dish. 

Santa approves

Drizzle with olive oil. Spread 4-5 pats of butter throughout pan. And if you have it, add twoish tablespoons of coconut oil (makes it a little crisp, yum).  Toss the squash with your hands so that the spices and oil cover evenly. Re-spread the squash out on the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Taste a piece of squash, if still firm, cook for 5 more minutes. Sometimes, I'll get a hankering for a more French fry like consistency… to achieve this, skip the olive oil, just use coconut oil, and at the end of the cooking process, switch your oven to broil for 4-5 minutes for a nice crispy treat.

 Let cool a bit and add more salt if you would like. Hide a serving or two in the back of your fridge, because your husband will eat it all. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sport of Spectating

As of last year, my super strong hubby has been participating in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. While he is setting personal records and competing in meets, I am participating in a sport of my own: the sport of spectating.

I enjoy going to these meets and watching Danny's incredible talent in lifting heavy (very heavy) things. For approximately 6 minutes (the lifter has 1 minute to make each lift), my heart is going bonkers and I'm holding my breath, until Danny completes his lift.  There are two lifts: The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. The lifter gets 3 chances to complete each lift with the weight either staying the same (if they miss it) or increasing if the lift is good. Once Danny is done lifting, I can calm down and take in my interesting surroundings. Olympic weightlifters are a rare breed and certainly fun to watch.

One attribute that is common among Oly lifters is their large buttocks. While I promise I am not siting around staring at these giant bums, it is hard to ignore these monstrous rears, especially when they are wearing nothing but singlets (think leotards, but slightly more manly). I appreciate these large rears, not in a lustful way, but in the fact that my own rear fits right in.

There are always a few former Olympians in the room, my favorite being Butch Curry.  Butch is now the president of the PWA (Pacific Weightlifting Association). I have a few personal observations about Butch that I would like to share, mind you I have never actually spoken to Butch, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.

Firstly, what kind of a name is Butch besides that of a Looney Toons cartoon character's and my dog's? Secondly, I would imagine a former Olympian to have the body of a Greek god.  Butch's body is more comparable to that of a jolly seasonal Santa Claus mall employee. Butch wears the same outfit to every meet that I have attended. His attire is all black, perhaps for it's slimming properties. His outfit consists of black shorts in the summer and black jeans in the winter. A black t shirt is worn under a tank top made out of synthetic material (that is also black) with a white ribbing outlining it. I am not sure if Butch is trying to relive his singlet wearing days, as this is kind of the effect it creates, or if he honestly thinks this is a good look for him. Either way, I say kudos to Butch. Sometimes I wish I could wear the same thing every day and if I did have that option, you bet I would choose black as my signature color.

For having such a tough name, Butch sure seems to be a happy guy. He is always chuckling and seems genuinely excited to spend all of his weekends at Oly meets. I decided to research Butch's Olympic standings. It turns out that Butch qualified for the Olympics and was ready to go and make our country proud. The only problem was Butch qualified to go during the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.... you know the Olympics that we boycotted. Everything that I have gathered about Butch from afar is making a lot more sense.

Butch in his finer days

The other Butch

A minor Looney Toon's Character, Butch

Oly weightlifters typically have a specific routine that is carried out right before they attempt the lift. To a newbie, these rituals can appear odd, a bit frightening, and down right silly. Animalistic grunts, pounding of the chests, strange breathing patterns, and slapping of the rears are the norm.  One recent female lifter that I had the pleasure of watching, did a sort of hissing sound while performing what appeared to be ballet moves. I suppose these rituals are to not only pump the lifter up, but to satisfy their superstitious ways. Danny does have a ritual, but it's nothing too crazy. He stares at the bar for a second, then quickly steps forward and stomps his feet rather loudly. He then grabs the bar and readjusts his position one time, even though it was perfectly fine the first time. Every now and then he will let out the classic weightlifter grunt...then goes on to make an amazing lift.

When the female lifters start lifting, I'm always a little jealous.  I think I may have missed my calling (athletically speaking) in life. My body shape is pretty similar to that of a weightlifter, having large quadriceps and glutes (the beloved pear shape... ) plus I've always had this weird obsession with being strong, even before I started getting into Crossfit. I quickly void my heart of any desire to participate in these events, as I do not like to be the center of attention and there is no way in hell that I could let out any type of animalistic grunt. Despite my reservations, these ladies are amazing. Their strength and confidence is thrilling to watch.

One more weightlifting phenomenon that I have noticed is that the amount of facial hair a lifter has may be propotional to how much weight he can lift. Take for example Danny, who is always sporting a full beard or our friend Buddy who even hopped on board the facial hair train at last weeks competition. Both boys did incredibly well. Some might say this has to do with hard work and determination, I say it has to do with the beard.

Despite my observations, my main source of enjoyment is the look on Danny's face after he realizes that he has made the lifts that he has been working so hard for every day. He and all these big booty lifters certainly are inspiring.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Philadelphia Day 5: From Cheesesteaks to Salad Bowls.

We woke with a feeling of that intense exhaustion that most people feel at the end of their know, the reason why people say they need a vacation from their vacation. We tidied ourselves up enough to enjoy one last so-so breakfast at the glorious Alexander Inn. 

While semi enjoying our continental breakfast, the inn keeper asked us where we were headed back to. We explained as most Riponians/Mantecans do that we were about an hour south of Sacramento. The inn keeper, which by the way is his official title, exclaimed, "Oh goodness! The salad bowl of America!"  While I think Salinas Valley is actually the official, "Salad bowl of America," I assume he meant that we were from agriculturally rich territory, in which case he would be correct: We were headed home to the salad bowl of America. 

Before our flight we had a couple hours to spare so we stopped by Liberty Center for a few last minute souvenirs. We then sauntered over to the last of William Penn's squares, that we had yet to visit. 

Of all 5 squares, Franklin Square is the most kid friendly. There's a pretty water feature in the middle, a mini golf course, and a merry go round for one's enjoyment.

Franklin Square

Everyone loves a water fountain

Perhaps the best part of Franklin Square was also the most upsetting. It turns out that the mini golf course is a mini replica of the Philadelphia. All of the city's most famous landmarks are mapped out in a minature fashion of fun and golf. You can hit a hole in one through Elfreth's Alley or make par at City Hall. (Notice how I threw in all the golf lingo I know...) The most upsetting part is that we discovered the mini Philadelphia golf course after we had already explored every single one of these landmarks. It would of been nice to get a lay of the land prior to our adventures. 

Liberty Bell/Independence Hall

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Lehr's on our 6th wedding anniversary

Elfreth's Alley

After contemplating actually playing some mini golf, then deciding  it would be better to make our flight (much to Danny's disappointment), we went in search of Philadelphia's China Town.  I don't know what I was expecting, but Philadelphia's China Town is not a bustling Asian city within a city. I suppose I was expecting a San Francisco-esque China Town. I must admit, the Chinese Friendship Gate was pretty.

Chinese Frienship Gate

Our last stop on our hustling and bustling tour of Cheesesteak town, was the Reading Terminal Market.  In 1892 the Reading Railroad opened the Reading Terminal Market underneath the storage area for its trains.  I have not confirmed this with research of the least bit (not even Wikipedia research) but I think the Reading Railroad is the same railroad that you can, "Hitch a ride on," in Monopoly.  The Reading Terminal Market has survived the Super Walmarts and Winco's of our crazy country and is still considered one of the greatest food markets in the world. 

Reading Terminal Market

Reading Terminal Market
The market is overwhelming in an extremely awesome way. Seeing, smelling, and tasting so many amazing things at once, may just send you into sensory overload. From Pennsylvania Dutch merchants to fresh cut flowers the Reading Terminal Market has everything a Foodie/Indie/Uppity soul could ever dream of. 

As sort of a last ode to all things Philadelphia (think hearty, greasy, deliciousness) we ordered some pulled pork sandwiches from Dinic's. It turns out Dinic's has been featured on the Food Network and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

 We somehow made it out of the Reading Market without falling into a deep yet delightful food coma. At the Alexander Inn we waited in the lobby for our taxi ride, which I am happy to report was much less terrifying than our taxi ride there.

Philadelphia is like most cities in that it is a mixture of art, history, food, and fun. It is unlike any city in that it grabs these common city themes, chews them up, spits them out, and makes them uniquely it's own. Philadelphia's intensity is something you can only experience if you go there. So I suggest you do that. Just be prepared for when you leave you too, will have been chewed up, spit out, somehow encased in brotherly love then left in a state of historical, artistic, and culinary disarray:

Time to head back to the Salad Bowl

To read all my Philadelphia blogs in order start here: