While growing up, I had a favorite uncle.
Uncle Dave was one of the nicest people I had the good fortune to know in my life.
"Got your nose," Uncle Dave would say after messing my hair up. "You can have it back after I get a hug."
With a loud shout of "Abracadabra" and a kiss on the cheek, he'd make a quarter appear from behind my ear.
Standing well over 6-feet-tall, it felt like I was climbing a tree when he offered to give piggyback rides around the yard or house.
A mechanic, David Moize owned and operated a busy vehicle repair shop at various times over the years in and around the Brazil area.
It might sound strange for a little girl, but I loved going to visit him at work.
Our family would pull into the shop's driveway and find him tinkering away under the hood of a car or truck. When he'd look up there was always a big smile on his face, which was usually covered in black grease from working all day.
Although my mother squirmed at the sight, grease covered Uncle Dave always gathered me into his arms for a big hug and took a few minutes to ask about my day at school.
One night, while a ferocious storm raged outside, it was Uncle Dave who calmed my fears, and tears, by telling me another version of Noah and the Ark.
"God provided a rainbow in the sky during the day to let mankind feel safe," He told me while I shook with fear at the sound of loud thunder. "But you know what? At night, I believe God gave us the stars to let us know he is always with us. As long as there are rainbows in the day and stars at night, you're going to be all right."
He came back a few days later to give me a little box with a chain inside that had a silver star on it.
"This way, even if you can't see the stars from where you are, you will know they are always out there," he said while putting it on me. "That God and your family will always be there for you."
I wore that necklace until I was 19 and it fell apart while I was at work. I believed what he said then, and I still do.
One of my mother's few Crock Pot recipes was Uncle Dave's favorite.
It was a variation of a recipe supplied by the Crock-Pot cookbook for how to make Abracadabra Pork Dinner.
Considering how much Uncle Dave loved pork chops and was such a magical part of my life, after finding it the other day I thought I'd share it with others in his memory.
Spray a 2-½ quart Crock-Pot with cooking spray and turn on the low heat setting to warm while preparing the pork chops.
Pour one cup of flour in a paper bag with three tablespoons of garlic salt, two tablespoons of pepper and two teaspoons of cumin. Place pork chops inside the bag two at a time and shake until covered, place on a plate while coating the other six to eight pork chops.
Brown the chops in a frying pan with four tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter.
Thinly slice one each of a large red and yellow onion, and then slice one large green pepper. You can also slice mushrooms if your family likes them.
Layer the ingredients, starting with the onions, peppers (then mushrooms if using them) and then the chops inside the Crock-Pot.
Mix thoroughly together one of the following cans of condensed soup in a bowl with one can of cola or 12-16 ounces of red wine (your taste preference) and a tablespoon of soy sauce:
* one 10-ounce can of cream of mushroom soup,
* one 10-ounce can of cream of chicken soup,
* one 10-ounce can of chicken and rice or cream of celery soup,
* one 8-ounce of jar of sweet and sour sauce, or
* two cups of barbecue sauce (try adding sliced pineapple if using this sauce/saving the juice to use in place for the liquid in the sauce).
Pour the sauce over the meat and cover the Crock-Pot to allow the chops to cook for 6-8 hours.
Serve over rice, noodles or (mine and Uncle Dave's favorite) mashed potatoes.
If you have any special recipe requests, feel free to leave me a message here or contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.