My husband and I both work from home and yet, somehow, we still rather like each other! When we met, eight years ago, each of us had jobs that kept us on the run: I traveled weekly, visiting sales partners and insurance clients around the country; he went back and forth to Europe quite often. Weeknight dinners at home were a rare occurrence, and we never worried about the details. Take-out? Right on! Delivery? Even better!
These days, our biggest struggle is to maintain a healthy work-life balance; a challenge for most of us, I imagine. Working from home has its advantages, don’t get me wrong! I love that my commute takes all of 30 seconds, and I can throw a load of laundry in while I write. But the down side is that you never get a clean break from “work time.” This is more difficult for Gabe because he’s caught between time zones: tech hub on the west coast, corporate offices in central Europe. The phone is always ringing!
When chaos rules our household, weeknight meals turn into an afterthought. I scramble in the kitchen, searching for a combination of ingredients that will magically transform themselves into a tasty dish. I’ve gotten better at it over time and, occasionally, my Hail Mary plan results in a meal I’d want to make again. I jot down some notes for the next time, because there will definitely be a next time!
Baked Pork Chops with Swiss Chard
The first time I cooked this dish, I wasn’t expecting much: basic ingredients, simple cooking method, minimal time investment required. But that turned out to be the genius of it – it’s simple yet delicious. I’ve since made this recipe from Food and Wine (and adaptations of it) dozens of times, all with great results.
For those crazy days that blur the line between work and family time, cook these pork chops, put them on a pretty plate, and open a nice bottle of wine. Voilà! Your weeknight dinner just became a fancy feast for you and your significant other to enjoy.
2015 Left Coast Cellars Latitude 45 Estate Pinot Noir (13.8% abv; $38 SRP)
I’ve paired the baked pork chops with many different wines and, frankly, I can’t think of one that didn’t work well with the dish. This elegant Pinot Noir, however, elevated our daily meal to special date night status!
About the Winery
Located in Willamette Valley, Oregon, Left Coast Cellars is committed to protecting the environment and has made great strides to reduce the winery’s carbon footprint through participation in the Carbon Reduction Challenge. It is also LIVE Certified Sustainable and Salmon Safe. And a whopping 90% of the estate’s power comes from solar sources.
Heeding the adage to “think globally, act locally,” the folks at Left Coast Cellars have also restored 100 acres of old-growth Oregon White Oak trees in their own backyard, and support a honey bee colony with 45 different hives. The honey is available for purchase at the estate.
And, if you decide to visit Left Coast Cellars in person, make sure you go hungry. The tasting room, recently voted Oregon’s best by USA Today, offers a complete tasting experience: not only will you get to sample some great wines, but you can chow down on a homemade pizza as well. Locals know that the outdoor pizza oven is as much of an attraction as the wines!
100% Pinot Noir from Dijon clones
Fermented in 100% French oak; aged 18 months in French oak (75% new; 25% neutral)
Color: Medium ruby, lightening to violet-pink at the rim.
Nose: A mélange of red fruit – raspberry, cranberry, cherry – mingles with spicy notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and chai tea. After an hour, there are deeper notes of cedar and forest floor. There’s a lot going on here!
Palate: All the berries from the bouquet, plus vanilla, clove, and a hint of anise on the long finish. Medium+ acidity, silky tannins, and medium+ body.
Food Pairing: I dusted the pork chops with some cumin and oregano before baking them. The cumin spice brought out similar earthy-spicy notes in the wine. There was a nice interplay between the sweet red fruit and the inherent sweetness of the pork, as well. Overall, a great duo, one that magically transformed a random Wednesday night meal into a special event.
NOTE: I received this bottle of Left Coast Pinot Noir from Donna White Communications, as a sample for review. While I received no other compensation and was not required to write a positive review, I’m happy to do so. It was a lovely wine, one that I think my followers might also enjoy. If you’d like to purchase a bottle, click here.