Found Recipe: This Marinade is The BOMB for Pork

During a quick afternoon visit last Sunday, my Dad asked what we were making for dinner, and offered up a marinade when I told him our main course was pork tenderloin.

He scanned the bookshelf in his kitchen, fingers gliding across dozens of cookbooks, until he found the right one.

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Ahhh.  A Junior League cookbook: Georgia on My Menu.  Has there EVER been a bad Junior League cookbook?  Not in my lifetime.  Those Junior League ladies have got the process down.  They have standards.  They must have 30 families test each recipe so they can perfect them.  Junior League Cookbooks are like war bonds or Superman or Sunday School teachers:  they can be counted on.  If aliens attack, I want to be protected by Junior League ladies.

So here’s the recipe.  As Dad noted, “Of course it’s good, the page is covered in drips and drops!”  Isn’t that right – all my favorite recipes are covered with the evidence of how many times they’ve been used.

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Dear Reader, after the recommendation from Dad, I made this marinade mostly as written (sans lemon, as we were sadly lacking).  I marinated our pork tenderloin for about 90 minutes in this potent potion, and  WOW!  I need to repeat that:  WOW!  The pork was savory, tender, succulent, umami-laden and just plain good.  I boiled the marinade after the tenderloin was committed to the grill and it was a great glaze for the finished product, which, in addition to the pork, included grilled fennel, onions and bell peppers.

To use business phrases, the “key takeaways” are:

  • Listen to Dad
  • Trust Junior League Recipes
  • If a cookbook page is crusty or stained, the recipe is a classic

This is my Dad.  There are no words to express the goodness he has brought to my life.  Including the pork marinade, of course.

Dad at the Stove

Just Gotta Garnish

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Lamb patties with their multiple garnishes

The Grill-Meister is my best taste tester for my new recipes.  He can dissect the ingredients I’ve assembled into what I think is a masterpiece and hit on the one thing that could be improved, which I really like.  I listen to his feedback and my recipes get better.  He said something that struck me earlier this week when I served the Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties from Epicurious:

What I really love is all that stuff on the side; the condiments and the garnishes just make the dishes you serve.

That got me thinking about my cooking and how I believe that a dish really does get completed by its accompaniments.  All of my favorite meals include sauces, dips, condiments and garnishes, even if it’s just a sprinkling of herbs or chopped nuts.  And I always feel pampered and pleased when someone else has prepared the meal and included the “little something extra” (lagniappe, as the French would say).

Garnishes and condiments are a supporting cast that add color and texture and provide complementary or contrasting flavors that highlight the main dish and make it a star.  And they are so visually appealing:  the food looks like artwork when it has been adorned.

So – just gotta garnish!

Garnish

A tray of garnishes for Turkey Cevap, a recipe to be published next week

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Black Bean Salad can be a garnish or a side dish
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Drinks like the Myra Hot Toddy look so much more drinkable with a garnish
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The parsley and scallions on the Mashed Potato Pancake add color and crunch, while the cheese and sour cream provide contrasting texture
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A Smorgasbord is all about the garnishes and condiments
Glover Gardens Chili
Glover Gardens Chili is a work of art in its bright blue dish with colorful peppers and onions
Smoked Salmon Spread
Capers and fire-engine red tomatoes brighten up Smoked Salmon Spread
Pulled Pork Tacos and Guacamole
Quick Guacamole is the perfect compliment for pulled pork tacos, along with Pico de Gallo.
Spring Greens and Green Apple Salad
The Spring Greens and Green Apple Salad sparkles on the plate with its cheese shavings and walnuts
Pico de Galla and ingredients
Pico de Gallo is my all-time favorite garnish and one of my top ten foods

 

“The Older You Are, The More You Live in the Past”

I heard a provocative statement on the radio today:  “The older you are, the more you live in the past.”  It was novelist Walter Mosely in his Big Think interview.

I’m not sure I agree.  I am mulling over my thoughts about the subject.

And I’m very interested to know what you think.  

The results of the poll will influence a future post.  And please feel free to add your comments below.


Update: read a couple of follow-up posts and learn from the wisdom of the crowd:

 

Found Recipe:  Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt from Epicurious.com

Easy weeknight dinner from Epicurious.com:

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Photo from Epicurious / David Malosh

“Whether you spell it kefta or köfte or kufte or some other variation, you can find versions of these lamb or beef meatballs throughout the Middle East. The seasoning mixture here is simple, with spices you should already have on your shelf and you can play around, adding fresh or dried mint, grated onion, or a pinch of cinnamon. And if you like a garlicky yogurt sauce, by all means, add a minced clove.”

The Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties described above sounded perfect when I found them via a quick search on my phone’s Epicurious app for a weeknight meal: quick, easy, reasonably healthy, and tasty.  That all proved to be true: I started assembling ingredients at 6:24 p.m., the Grill-Meister heated up the grill at 7:00, and we were enjoying our concoction by 7:20.  That’s just right for a Monday night. Find the recipe here: Spiced Middle Eastern Lamb Patties with Pita and Yogurt recipe | Epicurious.com .  (And yes, of course we added garlic to the yogurt sauce.)

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We topped our lamb with red onions and arugula in addition to the herb-laden yogurt sauce and served the pita alongside a quick cucumber salad

Breakfast Club Bounty: Arepas

Appreciating Breakfast

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”

― A.A. Milne

I agree with Winnie the Pooh about breakfast, especially with regard to our Breakfast Club at work.  I’ve blogged about it before (click here); it’s a great way to bond with colleagues and enjoy the most important meal of the day from someone else’s kitchen.

A Venezuelan Treat

One of my colleagues is from Venezuela, and she brought a real treat this week:  arepas.  How can it be that I had never heard of this crunchy, pita-like pocket made with corn flour and filled with shredded beef covered with cheese and a creamy green sauce?  Arepas were my exciting thing that happened that day.

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The shredded beef arepa was topped with cheese and a creamy green sauce and served alongside a mango mousse and grapefruit juice.  Can you see why I love Breakfast Club? What a great way to start a busy Thursday at work.

While serving us this wonderful breakfast, my colleague shared some of the background and history of arepas.  They are a predominant bread product in Venezuela and Columbia and are made with pre-cooked corn flour.  They can be served at any meal, with a variety of fillings that include cheese, eggs, seafood, pork or other meats, avocados, beans or even fruit.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years and originated with the indigenous tribes of Venezuela.  Here’s a nice history lesson about arepas, if you’re interested in knowing more.

“Food is a Great Opportunity to Understand Culture”

Diversity Hands - the World I Want to Live InMy Venezuelan colleague summed it up beautifully in our online Breakfast Club forum; in responding to our effusive praise about her breakfast, she said:

“I love to work in a global, learning, multicultural organization. Food is great opportunity to understand culture.  It is like art and music – these elements are joyful and meaningful for many cultures, locations, countries.”

What’s for breakfast on Breakfast Club days?  A heaping serving of multiculturalism and team-bonding.  And a darn good meal.

Read more about Breakfast Club here.  And stay tuned for the recipes; I’ll post them as soon as I get my hands on them.

Vicarious Experience: Hot Pot Dinner for Two in Shangai

I am very blessed to have an extremely diverse “village” of friends, co-workers, family, extended family and virtual acquaintances, and I love to enjoy their experiences vicariously.  That’s why I like social media – on the same day, I can enjoy a gorgeous photo of a heron on a Florida beach, an adorable baby’s first birthday party in Peru, and a brave but hungry (and very wet) baby squirrel begging for peanut handouts.  In addition to the wonderful pictures that take me places via my armchair, I learn stuff.  That’s what this post is about.

Hot Pot for Two

A former co-worker and friend recently traveled to Shanghai on business.  I caught this post on Facebook one evening and asked him about it.

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My friend’s FB post: “Dinner for 2. My last day of work at the Shanghai office. By this time, I just wanted something light and easy to eat. My coworker suggested a hot pot…So I was like, ok…great. This is gonna be easy. Then the waiter arrives…lawd have mercy.”

Isn’t that picture intriguing?  I had to know more.  Look at all that food, for just two people.  And the vibrant colors and mix of textures…yum!

Our Facebook Conversation

Me: “This is very cool! Can you describe it? I would love to put a picture of it on my blog.”

His reply:  “Ok, so…hot pot is a popular way of eating in many asian countries. It is communal and you do it with friends and family. basically, you have one simmering pot that is full of some sort of stock (chicken, pork, beef, vegetable…) and in my case, we were served with a variety of won tons, dumplings, 2 kinds of tofu, 3 kinds of noodles, vegetables (we had several kinds of leafy greens, and some such…look at that plate of variety of mushrooms!), seafood, and meats that you place in the pot and cook. Everything is sliced small so that it cooks in a minute. It’s a great way to share food.

Like I said, it’s for friends and family. …you wouldn’t do it with coworkers b/c you share a public pot. Noooooowww, in my case, we went to this restaurant, same concept, but with a twist…you actually get your own hot pot. My simmering stock is pork with onions, potatoes, leaks, tomatoes…this is soooo popular that we waited over 1.5 hours to get a table.

It is soooo fun to do…oh, most important…the total cost of this whole meal? Less than $35 US dollars.”

Wow!  I’ve had a bit of a hot pot experience at American restaurants, but this is far more complex and interesting.

I Need to Know More!

This all made made me:

  1. Want to go to Shanghai
  2. All kinds of curious
  3. Hungry

So I did some research on hot pots, and learned more about it.  Hot pots have been around a long, long time, and are also known as Chinese fondue or “fire pot”.  They may have originated in Mongolia and spread to other parts of Asia, and there are many, many different types of hot pots with a myriad of potential yummy ingredients.  Here’s a nice overview story about it from the NPR archives, which includes a couple of recipes.

I also found a whole blog devoted to the hot pot:  La Fondue Chinoise.  The blogger is obviously devoted to and expert in the art of the hot pot, and provides recipes, history, ingredient overviews, and videos.

I will definitely be trying out the hot pot thing and will let you know how it goes.  I am a huge fan of communal eating (see my Smorgasbord post and another about potlucks) and this looks like another great way to bond at the table.

Thank you, my friend, for the idea and for letting me share your wisdom and experience here.

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

We’re on a road trip on the way home from a joyful college graduation (my niece’s) and I spotted something bewildering during one of our pit stops. I think these things on the rotisserie are intended to be food (“pancake wraps”? taquitos?), but I have my doubts as to whether or not they are actually edible. And they smelled awful, like burnt oil.

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I’m not sure this is for humans. It might be dog treats…?

I’m struggling with the thought that anyone would want to eat these. It seems like the fall of modern civilization.

Just call me a food snob. I don’t mind.

A Hurricane Rita Story: No One Understands a Mom Like Another Mom

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m reposting this little story about my adventures with another mom during a time of uncertainty.  Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there, and if you have small children, my wish for you is that you have supporting friends like the one I profile in this story.  I have been blessed to have several.  (You know who you are.)

Click to read the story: A Hurricane Rita Story: No One Understands a Mom Like Another Mom

Sound asleep in the back seat

No Place for Hate: an “Award-Winning” Poem

Glover Gardens will soon be an empty nest as our last millennial leaves for college in August. I’m combing through photos for the graduation party slide show and stumbled on this memory from his 2nd grade year.  Texas schools had a wonderful No Place for Hate anti-bullying campaign with a poetry contest that year, and my kid’s submission was selected to be read aloud at the annual PTA meeting.  I loved the poem at the time and still do.

Bullying, by Thomas Wenglinski

Any bullying here?

‘Cause I don’t want a sneer.

I hate it! I hate it! Yes I do!

I want to change things…That’ll be new!

In Texas, we have No Place for Hate…

If you don’t like it, go to another state.

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I will never forget that sunny spring evening in Southeast Texas.  The kidlet had a baseball game the same night as the PTA meeting.  He read his poem in his baseball uniform and we left immediately afterward for the game.

Those were the days when dinner was eaten on the fly as we careened from one kid activity to the next and the issues of the day were making sure the requisite uniform was clean and findable and the homework got done somehow.  The big highs were wins like poetry contests and pop fly balls that somehow landed in the baseball glove.  I treasure those sleep-deprived halcyon days even while I look forward to the next step in his journey.

No Place for Hate 2

 

It is a beautiful thing to watch our kids grow into themselves and soar into their new journeys, but a little bittersweet, too.