A Heartfelt Thank You, A Giveaway and Some Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops

I pulled the car to a halt in front of the mailboxes. With half my body out the window, I hoisted the usual haul of catalogs, coupons and bills onto my lap. Methodically, I sifted through the stack on the very, off-chance that there would be something unexpected in the pile.

Caught between a Pottery Barn catalog and a Pottery Barn Teen catalog (Note to PB: Give it a rest already….), lay a small square envelope with handwritten script for the addresses. After shooing the boys out of the car and telling them they could walk up the driveway if they were that impatient, I slid my finger under the envelope flap and pulled out the floral embellished card. Upon opening it, I was treated to a heartfelt thank-you from a friend. Her words truly made my day, my month, my year.

I immediately felt the need to “reply” back. To thank her for her thank you as we do in the world of email. But with a handwritten and postal service delivered note, there isn’t that option. Instead, her words were like a gift…given to me…without expecting anything in return.

I’m not a good gift giver…at least not tangible gifts. I know I’ve mentioned this to you before but it’s true. I still cringe when I think about the batik shorts outfit I gave my sister for Christmas one year. I overthink the gift.

The same is true for thanking people. What should I get them? What would be appropriate? Will they like it? Does the gift seem trivial compared to what they’ve done for me…my family?

As I roll toward the end of the school year in a tumbleweed of chaos, I have managed to carve out some time to consider how much I have to be thankful for. How much generosity has been bestowed upon me, my children, my family. And again, feeling inadequate on how to properly give thanks, I decided that perhaps a handwritten note would be best.

When I was in Atlanta a few weeks ago, I happened to be graciously invited by Lori Lange on a Pork Crawl hosted by Jaden Hair and the National Pork Board. Essentially 10 of us climbed in a Land Rover limo and were taken, over the course of the evening, to three of Atlanta’s top restaurants where the head chef of each place had prepared us multiple creations all made of….pork. Delicious would be an understatement. 
Upon returning to our hotel rooms, we found a huge, wrapped box for each of us left by the wonderful gals representing the National Pork Board. Yes, I realize that on some level, they are doing their job to get us excited about cooking with pork but even considering that, their gift was extremely generous.
And the generosity doesn’t stop there. They also offered to pass along that same “wrapped box” to one of you. And considering how grateful I am to you…I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
Inside the wrapped box were these goodies:
  • Pork Be inspired branded Apron
  • Pork Be inspired Brochure
  • Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Cuisinart CCJ-100 Citrus Pro Juicer
  • Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer
  • Norpro Grip-Ez Jalapeno Pepper Corer
  • Cuisinart Grill Pan (I’m most excited about this!)
  • Dry Ingredients (Salt, Light Brown Sugar, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Chili Powder)

And not but a few days later, four pork chops were sent directly to my home and they will be sent to your home as well. Then you will have everything you need to make Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa.
If you are interested in receiving this generous gift from the National Pork Board, leave a comment with your email address here on this post before midnight, PST, Friday, June 10th. And yes, I realize my “commenter” can be temperamental so if you have trouble with it send me an email instead. I will go ahead and add your name in the comments. (carrieminns (at) me (dot) com)
I will have the Kindergartner draw the winning name from a hat and announce it on Saturday, June 11th
For those of you who see my Kindergartner on a regular basis, he may accept bribes. He loves AirHeads (thank you Mr. Kurtz) and Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream.

Chili-Rubbed Pork Chops and Pineapple Salsa
Adapted a bit from the National Pork Board’s recipe

My family LOVED these pork chops. I changed the salsa recipe from the original one I’ve linked to above because I didn’t have the time or the inclination to grill pineapple and jalapeno but I can’t imagine that I missed much. The only negative part about making these was that I didn’t make nearly enough! I think this dry rub would also be delicious on pork tenderloin. My stomach is grumbling just thinking about it.

Pork Chop Ingredients
4 pork bone-in rib chope, about 3/4 inch thick, trimmed
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt

Pineapple Salsa Ingredients
1 1/2 c diced fresh pineapple (approx…)
1/2 c Rainier cherries, quartered
1 sm orange pepper, diced (approx 1/2 c)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
a pinch of salt

In a small bowl, combine your chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Rub all sides of your pork chops with this mixture and set aside.

Next, combine all ingredients for your salsa in a medium bowl and set aside. I have to be honest here that I was planning on just using pineapple, lime juice and a bit of salt but I added too much salt so I started throwing in other things to dilute it….the cherries, the pepper, the cilantro…and in the end, the fruit salsa I made was devoured by the family and was perfect with the chops.

Next, prepare a grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate. (Um…I forgot the “oil the grate” step, hence the extra-dark grill lines in the above photos.) Grill pork until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F or about 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Take those babies off the grill before they dry-out and let them rest 5-15 minutes. Serve with brown rice and salad greens tossed with a simple vinaigrette. Enjoy….

Yield: Maybe 4 people but that could be stretching it since they are that good.

All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2011


  1. Very neat post! Was that your handwriting on the paper? How beautiful.

    I would love to win the gift package. Hope you have a wonderful summer!

  2. mandy f. says:

    awesome gift pack!

  3. Ann (napangel) says:

    I just love the idea of your handwritten note, Carrie. And those pork chops look delicious! A wonderful post all the way around. Thanks for the contest!

  4. strawberry CAKE says:

    I love handwritten notes. I have a drawer full of stationary…it's a lost art these days. WOW the pork crawl sounds amazing…what a blast, so glad you got to go and so glad you are privileged to share with your readers!! Yeh!

  5. Amanda Thompson says:

    I love getting handwritten cards and letters in the mail!! It's pretty sad that a lot of schools don't teach cursive anymore…


  6. Breanna says:

    This recipe is awesome! I love recipes that include pineapple it always adds so much flavor and depth!

    Keep on cooking ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. MrsKimF says:

    your note was great. prize sounds great, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Planeta says:
  9. Oh, I can't wait to make these – they sound so yummy and I'm bored with my current grill recipe for pork chops!

    And the give-away sounds great! Let me know where I can send the airheads and deliver the ice cream. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  10. Whitney says:

    Wow! Those look awesome!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Headin' to Whole Foods right now with my strep-infected Kindergartner to pick up some PORK! Yum, Carrie. Looking forward to cooking with you next month-yeehaw! Maybe we should plan our menu now….Kathy J

  12. thejourneyoftwo says:

    Loved your handwritten note! Mailed thank you notes was something my mother instilled in me as a young child. I love sending hand written, and often hand stamped/created notes. I've had many people call me or email me to thank me for them because it's often such a surprise these days to get a mailed note. Thanks for the opportunity on the gift pack! Can't wait to try those pork chops, even if I don't win. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Cooking with Michele says:

    Pork – my favorite – 'nuff said! I found your blog after reading about the crawl in Atlanta – sorry I didn't get a chance to meet you there…

  14. Sounds delicious – can't wait to give this recipe a try!

  15. Hey Carrie…great heart-felt letter and giveaway too !! Keep up the good work !!


  16. Anonymous says:

    I just found your blog through another blog, I was drawn by the fact that you are a Portlander like me. Thanks for the inspiration!


  17. Cynthia Geddis says:

    Love your blog and the great recipes. I am a new reader of your blog but a local Portlander so I love hearing about the local things you find. My family loves pork chops and I can't wait to try this recipe.


  18. Thanks for sharing the LOVE! ๐Ÿ™‚ Beautiful thank you note as well…


  19. Rhiannon says:

    The prize and pork chops look amazing!

    rhiinpink at gmail dot com

  20. wenderly says:

    I could not agree more about a handwritten note. It is such a special sentiment especially in the cyberspace world we live in today. What a lovely note you wrote! Thank YOU for sharing your talents love! And what a gorgeous giveaway & recipe!

    Happy summertime to you & yours!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Would love to have my name in the drawing. Thanks for thinking of your blog fans!
    Love your handwriting btw….

  22. Lemons and Lavender says:

    I just found your blog and love it! Your voice and tone are so inviting and familiar. It makes reading your posts a joy! I wish I would have had a chance to meet you in Atlanta last month.

  23. SNeuman says:

    Handwritten notes (and hand crafted cards) are so special – my aunt even comments when we each sign our own name on her store-bought birthday card. I enjoyed the post and I have enjoyed your writing!

  24. Serena Kim says:

    love pork, cook with it all the time, I would love to win 'the box' =]

    serenak AT optonline DOT net

  25. My daughter loves anything pork related! I'd love to be in the drawing. I've enjoyed your blog for a while now. I believe my brother in law, Paul Kennedy introduced it to me!

  26. Wow!! I'm so excited to see all of these contest entries. And your sweet comments…I really wasn't fishing for compliments when I asked you to leave a comment but I'll take 'em!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    And due to my highly-temperamental commenting function on this here blog, I'm listing all of the people who emailed me their "entry" instead of dealing with the comment function:

    Julie L.
    Kirsten C.
    Anne H.
    Laura M.
    Christy W.
    Linda R.
    Meredith M.
    Mary W.
    Amy M.
    Pam W.

    Now off to prepare the hat for the kindergartner….

  27. ok, how on earth did i miss this entry! i'm makin' this little diddy tonight! thanks miss carrie.


  28. Oh, bummer…I would have loved to have tossed your name in the hat, Heaven. Next time… ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy the sun!