IT'S 6 O'CLOCK and it's been "one of those days" at work. There is nothing at home in the refrigerator except some leftover chicken wings, a few wilted greens, half of an old tomato and assorted condiments -- mustard, olives, mayonnaise. The usual. In other words, nothing that would make a decent dinner, even for the dog. Besides, the thought of spending an hour or more preparing dinner is not something worth contemplating at 6 o'clock.
But the thought of another hamburger, French fries and a shake is almost enough to make the wilted greens look appetizing. You had a TV dinner last night. A decent restaurant meal costs more than what's left from last week's paycheck.
You can't go on this way much longer and neither can your mate.
You are not alone. As a matter of fact, you are probably in the majority in this town, since most men work and over 50 percent of the women do.
There are alternatives. Which brings us to the title of this column. There are lots of ways of Making It without resorting to frozen dinners, pizza parlors or shooting the entire week's grocery money on dinner in an expensive restaurant.
Some of them involve advance planning. Some of them don't. Some of them presuppose a keen interest in cooking. Some of them do not. But all of them, promise a relief from boredom combined, with the most important element of good eating -- good taste.
The fact that better nutrition at less cost is included may be incidental to a lot of people, but for those who care, you won't be able to do better at any fast-food restaurant or with any package of convenience food.
Making It will explore other avenues for surviving, whether it's because you have limited funds and expensive tastes, love good food but hate to cook, love to cook but have no time. Polish Pork Chops Baked Acorn Squash Greens With Chili Cumin Dressing Fresh Fruit or Ice Cream and Cookies
This week's meal touches all three categories -- dinner in 30 minutes from the time you start to take the groceries out of the bag until you sit down at the table. The menu has been adapted so that the food cooks quickly by -- utilizing thin instead of thick pork chops and acorn squash that is sliced instead of halved for baking.
For those who aren't really experienced in the kitchen -- three years of service or more -- here is a plan so that everything will be done in half an hour.
PREPARATION: 1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. 2. Heat skillet and rub with fat. 3. Slice squash. 4. Brown pork chops. 5. Oil squash, season and bake. 6. Chop onion and add to browning chops. 7. Mix tomato paste with yogurt and sherry. 8. Begin salad dressing preparation. 9. Add tomato paste mixture; cover and cook chops. 10. Chop pickle. 11. Finish salad dressing and toss with greens. 12. Set table. 13. When chops and squash are ready, serve. (If you are a kitchen wiz and have some spare time, you can begin washing the dishes.)
SERVING AND CLEANING UP: Pot to plate service is strongly suggested to cut down on cleanup time, as is assistance from whomever else gets to eat this lovely dinner.
SHOPPING LIST: 4 thin pork chops, 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste, 1/2 pint yogurt, dill pickles, salad greens, 1 small acorn squarsh, sherbet or ice cream or fresh fruit; cookies.
IN THE CUPBOARD: Salad oil, onion, dry sherry, salt and pepper, red wine vinegar, garlic, chili powder and cumin. POLISH PORK CHOPS (2 servings) 4 thin pork chops 1/4 cup onion 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste, less 2 tablespoons 1 cup yogurt 3 tablespoons dry sherry 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickle Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Using some of the fat from one of the chops, rub it over the bottom of a large skillet. When skillet is hot and chops and cook over medium high heat to brown. Meanwhile, coarsely chop onion and add to pan. Brown chops on both sides. Mix tomato paste with yogurt and sherry and add to skillet. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for the remainder of the 30 minutes, or until chops are cooked. Season with salt and pepper and mix in pickle. Serve. BAKED ACORN SQUASH (2 servings)
It took a bit of experimenting to figure out how to cook acorn squash in under 30 minutes. Now that I know, it seems ridiculously simple. 1 small acorn squash Oil Salt and pepper
Turn oven to 400 degrees. Wash the exterior of the squash and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Remove seeds. Rub both sides of slices with a little oil. Place in shallow baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes, until tender. GREENS WITH CHILI CUMIN DRESSING (2 servings)
If you like the taste of Mexican food, you will love this dressing on salads. 3 tablespoons salad oil 1 tablespoon red win vinegar 1 small clove garlic, put through press or minced 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste Salad greens
Whisk together all dressing ingredients and spoon over greens.