Saturday, May 9, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops for my Very Special Mother

Everyone has a special story to share on Mother’s Day. But my story needs a little more explaining than most others. Let me preface this anecdote: I’m not asking for sympathy. My past made me who I am today and I don’t regret how things unfolded the way they did. So please, put away your handkerchiefs!

I’ve told you about how my great grandmother raised my two older brothers and me and how her cooking planted a seed that later inspired me to become a chef.

But how did I get there?

My biological mother was M.I.A. most of the time and when she was there, things were even worse. My mother’s husband at the time had a gambling problem and a streak of bad luck to boot. With winter approaching and no money, my two older brothers and I went to live with my great grandmother while my two younger brothers went to live with my mother and her in-laws when the bank repossessed our home.

Now that you’ve been briefed, it’s time to move on to Chapter Two: How I Met My Very Special Mother.

My great grandmother died when I was 15 and I was left to live with my older brothers Jeff and Jesse, who were just 19 and 20 at the time. Can you imagine what it was like living in a house run by two teenage boys?

Me and my Mom the last New Years Eve we all worked at the Willowbrook Ballroom - Dec 1997Around this time, I started working at a local family business, the Willowbrook Ballroom. The owners, Pat and Dick Williams, had a one-year-old baby, Claire, and they thought I’d be a good babysitter for their daughter on nights I wasn’t working. As we got to know one another, a relationship blossomed. After a summer of babysitting, the Williams invited me to move in with them.

I was stunned. Who on earth would take in a teenager? I could have had any number of problems and they had a young child. Yet they still asked me to move in and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Even though I wasn’t Pat’s biological child, she held me to the highest standards, teaching me accountability and most importantly, to believe in myself and my dreams. As a result, I was now living a life where nothing was impossible!

My Mom and sisters, Claire and Alivia getting ready for my big day - Oct 2004
When I was 27, the Williams took me out to dinner and officially asked me to be a part of their family, which then included my youngest sister Alivia. Consequently, I changed my name from Lisa Sistos to Lisa Williams. Although I still love my biological brothers every bit as much and will never forget how much my great grandmother loved and cared for me, I knew I had found my family.

My Mom and I at the 1st Safe and Sound Dinner - March 2009

So on this Mother’s Day, in a very public web forum, I want to thank my mom, Pat Williams. She’s my only mom and without her, my real life would have never begun.

Ok, let’s eat!

Stuffed Pork Chops
Serves 4

4 bone-in pork chops, about 1" thick
Kosher salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup celery, minced
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 clove garlic, creamed

Heat saute pan over medium-high heat and add canola oil.
Add celery, onion and garlic and sweat, do not brown. Set aside to cool.
Take the pork chops and cut through midway through the thickness to form a pocket.
Take cooled celery mixture and stuff in pork chops.
Salt both sides and add to saute pan over medium heat.
Cook pork chops for about 5 minutes on each side or until meat is cooked through.
I was able to pull back the flap to see how the inside cooked, by not overstuffing the pork chops, I didn’t need to seal the cut shut.


Martha said...

I loved the story, and did need my handkerchief. You're wonderful, I loved the pictures, and the recipe looks delicious. Keep following your dreams!

Jessie said...

Lisa, this is a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it!