Does anybody need a minute to take a deep, full breath? I need about 70. In through your nose, hold, out through your mouth. Make sure your stomach expands like a beer gut, pulling air down and into your lungs.
Like people all over the world, my refrigerator is currently full of food. I am usually notorious for buying only the ingredients I need for one meal at a time. Meal-planning was a foreign concept to me before all of this started. But I am trying to balance rationality with preparedness. I make a point of only buying things that I would enjoy eating even if I wasn’t isolated inside my little apartment – white cheddar cheese, fruit, tons of chicken, frozen edamame, sweet potatoes, avocados that will ripen slowly, pre-packaged caramel crepes (because stress eating has a new meaning now)…
It’s crucial to remember that not everybody can fill their refrigerator with food at the drop of a hat. My wife and I are very privileged. Our jobs are secure. We can still pay our bills and buy extra pantry items. If you can afford to give back, I’ll include some links at the end of this post to organizations that are helping people who are hurt financially by work and school closures during this crisis.
They say that a person’s negative mood can change the molecules in the air around them. That’s why people can sense a “bad vibe” when they walk into a room. The energy can become thick and palpable, causing discomfort and uncertainty. The air around us has gotten thicker and thicker as we have slipped further into the throws of this pandemic. People are anxious, panicked, and deeply reactive. As much as we need to be careful and distant, we also need to build one another up. We need to check in on our friends, who may feel like peaches and cream one day and crippled by feelings of doom the next. We need to be patient and humble towards strangers in those rare moments that our paths cross these days, because we have no idea what worries may be haunting their minds.
And we need to be gentle on ourselves. Let’s remember that food is meant to comfort and nourish even when the thought of going at the supermarket elicits panic. This dish is hearty and healthy, guaranteed to calm your mind if eaten slowly and ideally with family or friends via a video call. Video hangouts with friends are my new favorite thing on earth, and it makes me wonder why I wasn’t keeping in touch with people this way years ago. We’re all physically far apart, but so, so easily connected. Breathe in, breathe out, and wash your hands before prepping. Nothing last forever ❤
Pork Tenderloin with Cider Dijon Cream Sauce & Mustard Greens
Ingredients for Pork & Cider Sauce:
-1lb pork tenderloin
-Juice from ½ a lemon
-1 shallot, finely chopped
– ¾ cup apple cider
-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (1 for marinating, 2 for the sauce)
-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (1 for marinating, 1 for the sauce)
– ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon brown sugar
-1/8 cup heavy cream
Ingredients for Mustard Greens:
-Bunch of mustard greens
-Juice from ½ a lemon
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
– ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-Mini purple potatoes for steaming on the side
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and then start off by marinating the pork tenderloin. I did a quick marinade because the cider sauce has such a tangy flavor that the pork doesn’t need much else. Combine the balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and brown sugar and pour it over the pork. I pierced the pork several times to allow the marinade to seep in further. Finish it with a generous sprinkle of salt, pepper, and dried rosemary if you have it.
Let sit for 20 minutes. In a large frying pan, add a little oil and place over medium-high heat. Drain the marinade from the pork and sear it on all 4 sides until lightly browned. Place the pork into a thick ceramic baking dish, brush lightly with olive oil and add another sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake the tenderloin for 15-20 minutes until your meat thermometer reads 145. Don’t overcook it! Pork dries out easily and contrary to popular belief, it can safely be eaten when it’s still ever so slightly pink. Once the temperature is 145, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing so the juices can settle.
If you are including little potatoes, start the water and boil them with salt. Set aside when finished.
While the pork is cooking, prepare your mustard greens. Remove the stems and give them a rough chop so you end up with large pieces. In a large frying pan, heat a little oil over medium heat and add your garlic. Cook the garlic for about 1 minute, until it starts to sizzle and get fragrant.
Toss in your greens and cook them until they begin to wilt (about 2-3 minutes). Once that happens, add the chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, and juice from ½ a lemon. Reduce the heat so the pan is at a light simmer and allow to cook for about 8 minutes. This is going to help reduce the bitterness in the greens and make them flavorful. About halfway through, sprinkle in the white sugar. Remove the greens from the liquid and set aside. Save just a dash of this liquid for the sauce.
Once your pork is out of the oven and resting, make your cider cream sauce. In the same pan you used to sear the pork, add a little oil over medium heat and toss in your shallots. Cook for several minutes until the they become caramelized and browned. Add in any cooking juices that have gathered underneath the pork as it rests, and the dash of the mustard green pan juice as well. Add the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and juice from ½ a lemon and allow the sauce to reduce to about ½ it’s volume at a light simmer. Swirl in 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Once it’s tangy and sweet, remove from the heat and mix in the heavy cream and a tiny dash of butter.
Cut the pork tenderloin into thick slices and spoon the sauce over your plate. This dish is not for those who enjoy mild and gentle flavors. The greens should have a light peppery and vinegary taste and the potatoes bring a welcomed buttery starch to all that punch.
Clean your plate and keep your head cool. Now may be the time to organize your closet or binge watch season 1 of Glee. Don’t forget to let the sun touch your face every once and a while. Support your healthcare workers, grocery store staff, and anybody else who can’t stay home. And call your mom.
Consider donating to COVID-19 relief here:
Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund
Feeding America COVID-19 Response Fund
General tips on where to donate/how to support small businesses
Your words of wisdom in these very trying times were veey nourishing. Totally calmed me down. Thank you. Now maybe I can muster the energy to put this recipe together…of course I am missing a few key ingredients, i.e. the pork and the cider and praying my new weekly food delivery does indeed arrive at my door tomorrow. But I, like everyone else, can surely adapt…hum, if the meat does not arrive what do you think about using a head of cabbage smothered in a beer infused dijon sauce (enriched with my remaining yoghurt) and a sprinkle of dried cranberries? I dedicate this potential serendipitous goodness to you my dear blogger.
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I’d be deeply intrigued to see a photo of that alternative recipe! On a serious note, do you have access to hard cider? There’s an idea. If it tastes strange, just drink the rest ❤❤