Loin

A while back, I came home to a TD&H created dish for dinner: pork tenderloin. I’d never really had pork tenderloin before, though my friend had assured me it was quite easy and delicious to make. Still, I am dubious around meat when it involves me cooking it, and was even more suspicious of this dish TD&H had whipped up, sans recipe. Boy, was I in for a surprise. This dish was so succulent, so savory and sweet at the same time, so flavorful and full of personality, I knew I had to witness its cooking again, if only to understand its depths.

Fast-forward a few weeks, TD&H and I were inspired to host a dinner party with some friends we had not seen in some time. What a perfect opportunity! Chef took to the kitchen, and worked his magic, which I outline for you here.

Pork Tenderloin ingredientsOur cast of characters:

1 whole onion, cut into big pieces
a few cloves of garlic, diced
extra virgin olive oil
about 1 C chicken stock
2 C soy sauce
1/3 C + 2 T maple syrup
1 can tomato paste
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 T each paprika and cayenne
3/4 T chili powder
2 t cinnamon
1 C jumbo raisins
1 apple, diced (we used honey crisp, my favorite!)
1 T sesame seeds
pork tenderloin

oniongarlicchicken stock

hint: store leftover stock in an ice tray for future use when you only need 1/2 – 1 cups

Step 1:

1. Soften onions in a pot drizzled with olive oil (2-4 minutes) over medium heat, add diced garlic (1 minute)

2. Add liquidey things (i.e. chicken stock, soy sauce, maple syrup, tomato paste, vinegar) and bring to a simmer

3. Add spices: paprika, cayenne, chili powder and mix into the bubbling concoction

4. Add raisins (we prefer the jumbo raisins from Trader Joe’s. I think they add a nice, unique quality and texture to the final dish as they hydrate to become plump and juicy) and apple pieces

5. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens, so that the bubbles shrink instead of pop, as TD&H puts it

6. Once the sauce begins to thicken, start on the loin. Heat a cast iron (or other oven-safe) skillet in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on stove (be careful! very hot!).

7. Place the loin in the skillet with a little bit (about 1/2 C or so) of the sauce. Sear on all sides for just a few minutes.

8. Reduce oven heat to 350 F and cook for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 F.

9. When done cooking, remove from heat. Pour rest of sauce over the meat, and let rest 3-5 minutes so all the juices flow back into the meat.

pork loin sauceOur friends arrived, bearing gifts of wines, cheeses, and desserts. As people trickled in, our humble apartment started to feel more like a home.

cheese with character gotta love this guy: the cheese with all the character, like the cool kid in a leather jacket, reclined against a wall, cigarette hanging nonchalantly out of his mouthtattoo dining bw dinner

We chatted, caught up, shared stories. We attacked the cheese with vigor, refilled our wine glasses, finished up cooking while the last few guests arrived. And then… it was time.

The unveiling of the loin.

Silence came over the room as the last and final star of the main course, The Loin, made its way to the table. As we took our first bites, I was anxious to see how this second version of what was initially an ad hoc creation would compare, how it would be received. Sometimes, silence is the greatest compliment.

unveiling of the loin the boys

And silent it was.

Well, needless to say, The Loin showcased fabulously. We followed up with a delicious dessert, courtesy of Katherine, who used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (gotta love smitten kitchen).

pork loinpear cakeel finempty plateA great feast with great friends. To be repeated, with frequency and more delicious creations.

El fin.

Hippies

Growing up, I thought the hippies I encountered or knew about were a relic of 1960s America; people who had it right, were trying to live alternative lifestyles, who were not slaves to prevailing trends or the beat of someone else’s drum. As I got older, I began to see the hippie subgroup as people either trying to hold on to the golden vestiges of their youth, or new hippies, trying to be throwback, and through shunning mainline pop cultural trends, where subscribing to another one in its place. Not that I perceived this as an entire negative: I was happy to consider myself as a recipe with a dash of hippie, or as I thought at the time, words that were synonymous such as “free” or, for the more committed, “eccentric.” In California, the perception was nearly a sliding scale along a geospatial line: the further north you went, the more “Walden Pond” the scenario got, and the further south, the more the term was used to describe a fashion more than a state of mind.

Obviously, these are generalizations, and I’m sure many would argue not what “it’s all about” anyway. My point is, I thought it was a culture unique to California; after all, I had grown up learning about the Haight and Ashbury, the Summer of Love, the political turmoil and the anti-Vietnam War protests. But, my sample size was small, my worldview undeveloped, my experiences limited.

~~~

20141025-IMG_7712We arrived to the distillery in Western Virginia after a day spent out at the Maryland vineyards, picking grapes we would later make into wine. The sun radiated that low, more mature light so characteristic of falls and winters out east. Rather than illuminating the world in bright, ever-optimistic sunlight, the sun cast shadows on leaves, threw bright halos on things, did not warm your core as easily. After a day spent out in the sun, drinking wine, clipping grape clusters and lugging heavy bins of grapes here and there, our group was relaxed and exhausted.20141024-IMG_759120141024-IMG_7603 20141025-IMG_771520141025-IMG_7713As we gathered around the campfire, waiting for our designated tasting room time to sample the distilleries cordials, we sat in chairs carved out of massive, aged tree trunks anchored to a carpet of deciduous leaves. I was captivated by the voice of an artist performing her newest songs; the tunes seemed fit for just this occasion as she beat on a hollow drum she held in her hand. She told us her music had evolved to reflect the influences she had encountered during her travels in Southeast Asia. She wore a flower garland in her hair, a Native American blanket as a shawl…

Wait a second… this seemed all too familiar. But what was this? Were we not in Western Virginia? I began to look more closely around at the people. A man nearby wore a tweed vest, a cap with a feather standing proudly at attention, ironic glasses. The younger people sported beards, facial hair, eccentric hats. I realized we were in the land of living off the grid, where “different” is once again on-trend. It began to make sense: we were at a distillery in the Appalachians, where historically clandestine operations of making moonshine were as much a part of American history as the hippie movement of the Sixties. It dawned on me: the alternative lifestyle is not so unique to California hippies. It exists in many different forms, immediately recognizable once you see it face to face, despite the very different environments. Walden Pond was, after all, in Massachusetts, not a California suburb.

20141025-IMG_772120141025-IMG_7722 20141025-IMG_7731And so, once again, I was reminded of the wonderful varieties of America. I spend so much time dreaming of and traveling to far off places in the world, when really there are arguably just as many interesting sub-cultures and regional differences here at home. I really enjoy these moments, when I can appreciate the “fabric of America,” as cheesy as that sounds, and where I can start to daydream about other trips I want to take: to the South, to New England, to the Southwest, to the Rockies, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest… the list goes on and on.

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Switch Up

Switching it up on ya here. I’ve been posting a lot from Greece recently. While there are still a number of photos I want to share from that region, I figure it may be more exciting to break with chronology and share random photos from the past few years that I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve also been reviewing other photography blogs, and have really liked thematic posts, such as Steve McCurry’s “Language of Hands” post. Maybe one day I’ll be able to string together images like that…

Also, for those of you who follow along with email updates on my blog, I just sold my soul and created a facebook page for A Heightened Sense of Things. I’m trying it out to see if it motivates me a bit more to post, knowing that some more folks are looking at what I’m sharing. You can find me at: https://www.facebook.com/heightenedsense. I may be doing a photo giveaway or something to celebrate the blog’s first birthday in a couple months. Like my page to stay posted!

And as always, thanks for the support!

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Swim in the Sea

Live in the sunshine
Swim in the sea
Drink the wild air.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Paros | GreeceOn this particular day in Paros, we rented bikes from a shop along the waterfront in Parikia, and adventurously set off, sans map, to explore the island. We knew we had to get up and over a small set of hills in the center of the island that served as a geographic divider between the towns of Parikia and Naoussa.

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We stopped near the top of the first killer set of hills to take in the view.

Pedaling on, we finally crested and cruised, exhausted by our rickety rental bikes, onto the windswept roads along the beaches on the other side of the island. Our efforts were rewarded by beautiful beaches tucked away into coves of wrinkled rock.

20140714-IMG_6360-2 20140714-IMG_636820140714-IMG_636420140714-IMG_6362 20140714-IMG_6372 20140714-IMG_633420140714-IMG_6343 20140714-IMG_6349We concluded the day with an afternoon in Naoussa. That evening hosted a slow-creeping sunset that we watched develop, like a fog rolling in, from the beach before returning to our campsite.

Once Upon A Dream

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you, that look in your eye is so familiar a gleam
And I know it’s true, that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.

Putting together this post, and reliving the tucked away alleys of Santorini, I recall this song. I performed this song once at a piano recital. Googling it reveals this version by Lana Del Rey, that I’m now in love with. Her eerily slow voice makes these winding walls seem all the more intriguing, if not slightly claustrophobic.

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An Afternoon in Marathias

We arrived to Zakynthos, “Zante” in Italian, an island in the Ionian Sea, by boat. The island is said to be named after Zacynthos, son of legendary Arcadian chief Dardanos (there’s some wikipedia etymology for ya). On our second or third day on Zakynthos, we rented ATVs and headed out to a beach that was wrapped around on the southeastern tip of the island. Vasilikos was alleged to be one of the more beautiful beaches on the island. On our way out, our ATV caravan had to repeatedly pull over to allow all the cars to go by; some of the hills were a little tough for our petite engines. It made for a slow, more plodding journey that was even more enjoyable than any other mode of transportation I should think. The sun was high in the sky, the air a perfect temperature.20140706-IMG_5565

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