Advocate staff photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- For a stick-to-the-ribs dish on a cool night serve slow-cooked Pork Chops With Navy Beans.

In the later years of her life, my mother-in-law would often talk about life on the farm as a little girl. Her father was a sharecropper and the children would often work in the fields for hours at a time. She didn’t mind it, she said.

It was the only time she was allowed to wear pants and she couldn’t wait to put on her brother’s overalls.

She talked about the foods her mother would prepare, and when we visited, I would spend much time in her kitchen, making and freezing portion-sized meals for her to heat up. When she died nearly a year ago at the age of 96, we had enjoyed many conversations about and over food. The comforting nature of food and the memories certain foods bring forth often make us feel closer to those we have loved and lost.

The memories she had of her family meals were every bit as precious as the ones I remember from my own family and of the ones she and I shared.

So, in remembrance of the love of food and family, here’s a “comfort food” pork chop recipe to share with others.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at