The State of My Union

crippity crop

I apologize in advance for my mood. Feel free to skip directly to the recipe.


Every cloud has a silver lining, so they say.

I say “they” can go suck an egg. Because I am in a STATE right now, and am having a good deal of trouble finding the silver lining in Bipolar and anxiety disorders.

Well, it is fairly easy to acquire a prescription for Valium, so I guess there’s that, but that doesn’t seem glittery enough for my taste. Valium is only fun if you don’t NEED it, and is considerably less fun when one is in a STATE. When you need prescription medication to get over crippling anxiety at the very idea of making dinner, the silver lining, she is invisible.


Frankly, I’m quite irritated that I should be in a STATE at all, what with all the Abilification and Lamictalizing and Paxilization to which my chemically addled brain is subject on a daily basis. If I can do all that and still be subject to a STATE? I AM TRULY INSANE. You should probably keep your distance. IT MIGHT BE CATCHING.

Luckily I have a Brian, who does useful things like prod me to get off my crazy ass and cook instead of sitting on the couch stewing, as is my wont. Thus, STATE be damned, five-spice pork chops with a hoisin-tangerine glaze were still produced and consumed, and with a minimum of melodrama on my part.


My original idea was to crust a pork tenderloin in Chinese five-spice powder, sear it off on the stove and finish it with glaze in the oven. Quick, easy, perfect for two! That was before I had a brain fart and purchased THREE POUNDS worth of pork loin, which is a bit much for two, even when the two in question are Brian and me.

Instead, I cut a few chops off my pork log, crusted them in five-spice and cooked them on the stovetop. Once the glaze (hoisin, tangerine juice, chili-garlic paste, brown sugar) went on, they took a quick trip under the broiler to caramelize.

I plated them on a bed of greens dressed only with fresh tangerine juice, and voila! I made it all the way through meal preparation without bursting into tears! Send in the clowns! Or don’t, because I find clowns frightening.


I even managed to sit and eat my entire meal and converse about my day like a seemingly normal person, so clearly the Valium is kicking in.

This is a simple, fast and flavor-packed dinner. The glaze would be equally as good on chicken, or even a burger. The warmth of the five-spice plays off the sweetness of the tangerine and hoisin, while little pinpricks of heat slowly build from the chili-garlic paste, eventually blooming full-grown and cutting through what could be a cloying dish.

Look at how well I’ve managed to disguise being crazy in the last couple of paragraphs! You’d hardly think you were dealing with a madwoman who was, only an hour or two ago, paralyzed by pork. So really, I didn’t have to tell you about my STATE at all, but you know I can’t keep anything from you.

Five Spice Pork with Hoisin-Tangerine Glaze
2 pork loin chops
2 tbsp. Chinese five-spice powder
1 tbsp. veg oil
1/3 c. hoisin sauce
juice of 1 tangerine
1/2 tsp. chili-garlic paste
1 tbsp. dark brown sugar

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and crust them all over with the five-spice powder.

Heat the oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Turn your broiler to high.

When the oil is hot, add the pork chops. Sear 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 130 (they’ll come up the rest of the way under the broiler and as they rest).

While the pork is cooking, whisk together the hoisin, tangerine juice, chili-garlic paste and sugar.

Once the pork is seared on both sides, liberally spoon the glaze over the pork and run under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the glaze is caramelized and bubbly. Let the pork rest for a few minutes, then serve.

21 thoughts on “The State of My Union

  1. I think you’re a rockstar for even attempting the porkchops, let alone posting tonight – every person I know is in A STATE today (I think it’s the weather?), and the fact that you managed to 1)make 2)something delicious 3)and maybe theoretically healthy means that you’re awesome. I had pretzels, pie-flavored gum, and champagne for dinner tonight. So you’re one-up on me, in any case.

  2. i totally relate to these posts, being a crazy person myself. i havent cooked in months due to a pathological fear of my kitchen– woo hoo, anxiety disorders! so youre doing alright hun. *hugs*

  3. Pork conquers bipolar – I shall mention that as a possible adjunct to my treatment next time I visit my pdoc – mind you, he will then probably make notes to the effect of “that’s it, she’s finally lost it”. Good on you for producing such an amazing sounding meal when not on an even keel. Write a note and put it on your fridge as a reminder on bad days that people in other countries who have never even met you think you are one hell of a great person. Best wishes, Claire

  4. Not that it’s any of my business but you should read “Anatomy of an Epidemic” by Robert Whitaker. I’m not bipolar but I have known a number of bipolar people in my life and I’ve been diagnosed with a fair number of psychiatric illnesses in my day (“my day” being only 27 years). Anywho-am drug free now and found the book a fascinating read.

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  6. To get personal here, (I consider you my bff from afar,) it pains me to know you’re allowing the pill pushers to make their boat payments out of your purse. The side effects can be devastating. As someone who was depressed and suicidal a good portion of my life, I’m a poster child for natural treatments. Most important would be EFA’s, keeps the brain firing properly.
    I’ll stop preaching now, but know there is an army of supporter behind you 100%!

  7. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be commenting on anyone’s medical regimen here. I’m sure Michelle and her doctor have discussed it at length, and unsolicited opinions on what kind of medicines she may or may not take is incredibly intrusive.

  8. sharon, powder to cause, or powder to cure? i’m still looking for the latter.

    scarlettb, that pie-flavored gum makes me so, so sad. such an insult to pie.

    jesi, thanks, and i’m sorry you’ve been kept out of your kitchen. i hate depression, but i might hate anxiety more.

    claire, yeah, i don’t tell my pdoc about food-related epiphanies, either, although i’m sure she would agree that “getting the hell off your ass” is a good antidote for anxiety.

    lexy, interesting. i’ll check it out, although drug free REALLY doesn’t work for me.

    vera, i need to see that movie so i can be in the loop on this one.

    cynic, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one, at least when it comes to my particular case, although i thank you for the support.

    elizabeth, indeed.

    erica, thanks!

  9. I think a state is entirely permissible from time to time, whether one is bipolar, medicated, or what. And if one can produce a meal like that while in a state — damn, sista, go ‘head on!

  10. Michelle, as someone who is beginning her trip to depression-land…..and as someone who lives with a clinically depressed guy, I applaud you, who makes pork in a STATE. Major hugs and smackaroonies.

  11. This sounds FAB. The food, I mean, not the STATE. That part sounds shite.

    I am totally making this–thanks for the recipe. Epicurious has a lovely recipe with similar flavors for a five-spice pork and bok choy stir fry with sliced tangerines–with the peel on! It’s quite delicious; I make it frequently. It’s worth a google, I promise.

  12. Oh hon, sorry you’re not feeling up to par…but THANK YOU for this recipe since i have these exact things in my house (pre-cut hog log, but still…) and this is exactly what I’m making tonight!

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  14. Revisiting the pork log??? I was thinking as I read this post that the marinade recipe would work really well for a roast. Perhaps we’re thinking along the same lines? I can’t wait to see what the future holds in store for the log! In the mean time, I hope your STATE passes soon and you’re feeling better.

  15. I am new to your blog, and I must tell you that I’ve fallen instantly in love with it. I also struggle with depression, and I am really sick of the “sitting on the couch” days.

    Anyway, this recipe looks amazing! And such beautiful photographs!

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