Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin

I am a reformed vegetarian.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  I’d say at least 50-70% of my diet is vegetarian (a large portion of which is produce based). But since I rediscovered meat (I try my best to be conscientious of the kind of meat, how it’s raised and fed, etc.), I have had to learn a whole lot.  I mean a lot.  This is a recipe that I never thought I’d cook and moreover  sounded too difficult to add to my repartee.   Well I am always up for a challenge and am here to tell you that I was wrong.  Yes I was.  This is a simple, incredibly tasty dish that you could serve with just about anything.  Salad, grains, vegetables, soup and crusty bread.  I chose Braised Kale and Cinnamon Roasted Roots and Apples.  Yes, it is Paleo. Yes, it is wrapped in bacon.  Here ya go.

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin (organic if you can)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons rosemary, coarsely minced
1 long sprig rosemary for cooking in pan
2-3 good pinches flake sea salt (any sea salt will do but I like the flakes, such as maldon)
*course ground pepper to liking
1 lemon wedge (I prefer Meyer’s for their sweetness)
2-3 strips all natural smoked bacon, cut in halves
Butcher twine

Start by unwrapping and rinsing your tenderloin.  Set aside. (You can trim the connective tissue if you like, I did not).  Mince garlic, don’t worry if it’s not too finely minced. Add the rosemary and salt to the garlic on your cutting board. Take a butcher’s knife and use the flat part of the blade to mash the three ingredients into a coarse paste.  The garlic will get aromatic and soft, the salt will help crush and hold everything together.

DSCN1604

Take your tenderloin and cut about 1/2 of the way through lengthwise, being sure not to cut all the way.  Take the paste and rub it inside the cut along the length of it.

DSCN1608

Squeeze your lemon over the paste in the tenderloin.  Now take the bacon halves and shimmy them underneath the pork going down the whole length. Use your butcher twine to close up the seam and keep the bacon in place.  The bacon adds some lovely smokiness and since pork tenderloin is fairly lean, it allows for some fat and caramelization.  I let my pork rest like this in the fridge for a couple hours, but if you wanna get going,  preheat oven to 425.

DSCN1612

Place tenderloin in a small pan and add the sprig of rosemary alongside it.  Cook at 425 for 30-35 minutes.  I also placed mine under the broiler at the very end to get some color.  Color = flavor.

Snip apart the twine and let rest for a couple minutes before serving.

Served with Braised Kale and Cinnamon Roasted Roots and Apples

Served with Braised Kale and Cinnamon Roasted Roots and Apples

Advertisements

Skillet Poached Eggs over Greens and Mushrooms

DSCN1558

I try to keep my adventure food light, simple, healthy.  Mostly I like to be able to see most, if not all, of the ingredients at a glance.  This recipe is also so easy – perfect for early morning adventures when your brain’s not quite awake yet.  This dish is all about cooking in stages and is a recipe for two people.  You know what to do to make it for more.

Ingredients:

2 cups greens (I used baby spinach and kale, but collards, arugula, whatever your heart desires would work!)
1/2 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 shallot, diced
1-2 teaspoons fresh herbs, minced (I used thyme from my garden)
2-4 eggs
*(real) parmesan for grating
salt and pepper to taste

You’ll need a pan or skillet with a lid for this recipe.  If you don’t have one, a large pot will do.

IMG_2427

Heat a med-large skillet at med-high heat.  Add olive oil and heat ’til it crackles when you sprinkle a little water on it.  Add shallots and cook for 2 minutes.  Add garlic and cook ’til it smells fragrant and is golden (keep an eye on this bugger cuz garlic likes to burn).  Next add the mushrooms and sautee for approx. 4 minutes.  Don’t be afraid to let the mushrooms really get some color on them. Add some salt and pepper here. The moisture they release will keep the shallot and garlic from burning.  Add kale and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.  When using heartier greens, I cook them before the more delicate ones to avoid the slimy effect something like spinach can sometimes get.  Add the spinach and cook just until wilted.  The stems may still be intact and thats a-ok.

Finally crack the eggs on top of the greens and cover.  Now here is all about personal preference.  I cooked my eggs for five minutes, covered, and the whites were set and the yolks soft, but not overly runny.  If you like your eggs runny (as I often do as well) then under five minutes should get you there.  Eggs are tricky because the yolks and the whites cook at different speeds.  If you can cook a good egg, then you are a true chef in my opinion. Ad more salt and pepper to your liking.

Ah, at last, use a turning spatula to scoop up the greens and egg together to plate.  Shave some good quality parmesan on the top.  I served mine here with a little bit of truffle goat cheese on the side.

* A note on parmesan. My brother is a chef, an incredible chef and has proven to me time and again the transformative powers of a high quality wedge of parmesan in the kitchen.  And I hate to tell you, but that granulated stuff that comes in the plastic shaker is not real parmesan.  It’s filled with binders and preservatives that your body just doesn’t need and quite honestly adds a powdery / plastic-y feel to food.  Let’s make a deal to stay away from that stuff.  Real parmesan, like Italian imported parm, is not cheap, I understand.  But just start with a wedge of parmesan from the cheese section at your local grocer and work your way up to it.  You’ll thank me (and my brother).

Hike to Mt. Lukens, San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles

It was a cold, rainy, foggy morning.  I wasn’t even sure I was in LA.

view from my back deck

view from my back deck

It was quite early in the morning and therefore I was still delusional enough to make the 4-5 hour trek up to Mt. Lukens and back.  By myself.  Mt Lukens is, by the way, the highest point in Los Angeles (5,075 ft. elevation) and is no small feat.  I was itching for an adventure…and a way to help burn off my holiday excessiveness.

I packed up my bomb Osprey pack with lots of extra layers, gloves, paper towels, chapstick, gum and other goodies.  I cannot recommend this backpack enough. TONS of pockets everywhere, even on the hip belt for easy access to things such as tissues (cuz my nose is a dripper when hiking), a 3L water sack, and a well-ventilated back.

DSCN1559     Adventure Fuel! Tomato soup in the thermos

Made myself some tasty breakfast, the recipe for which you can find here.
Skillet Poached eggs atop sautéed mushrooms and greens, side of truffle goat cheese

Skillet Poached eggs atop sautéed mushrooms and greens, side of truffle goat cheese

Once I hit the trail, Rim of the Valley out of Deukmejian Wilderness Park, it was a wet dense fog the whole way.  I must say it made for some truly transporting, magical hiking.  It is what I imagine the Pacific Northwest looking like.

DSCN1566DSCN1567

I've always wanted to decorate a Christmas tree on a trail like this!

I’ve always wanted to decorate a Christmas tree on a trail like this!

DSCN1569

The rain clinging gently to everything.

DSCN1570

DSCN1573

It was nice to see everything come alive in the rush of rain.  Lord knows we’ve needed it. But I could see how in a really rainy year, this could get tough in places, water flowing steadily and no clear trail near the water.  That’s ok, I’ve gotten good at improvising.

DSCN1577

DSCN1578

Here is where an old bridge melted when the station fire from 2009 came whooshing down the canyon.  The fog was so thick, you could do nothing but focus on the few steps immediately ahead of you.  There was no way to anticipate the future of the course nor dwell upon its passing.  As profound a life lesson as any.

DSCN1585            DSCN1581

The hike to the top took much longer than I thought, but then again I was so enamored with my surroundings, I couldn’t help but stop.  I swear it wasn’t to catch my breath…at all.

DSCN1586

DSCN1592

DSCN1593

You can see the towers, but I'm still so far from the top. Brutal.

You can see the towers, but I’m still so far from the top. Brutal.

There were times I was so surrounded by clouds that I could have sworn I was 15,000 ft. vs 5,000 ft. high.

IMG_2439

When I finally reached the top, I realized it was snowing.  In LA?!  It was bitingly cold from the wind and I was too wet from sweating to stay long.

There was no view whatsoever because of the clouds.  I was at the highest view point in all of Los Angeles and could see nothing.  Most people would have been pissed to work that hard for so little.  But you know what?  It was just fine by me seeing as the journey to the top was so magnificent.

I always think, whoever said “it’s not the destination, but the journey” has never hiked to the top of a glorious mountain.  In this case, however it couldn’t have been more true and a metaphor for which my life is ripe.

I turned around quickly, downing some warm tomato soup from my thermos while hoping to thaw out my frozen fingers. I got my one and only glimpse of blue sky for the day.

DSCN1601I made my way down in half the time it took me to get up, mostly because I had somewhere to be.  I did my best not to let my haste allow for bad footing or for taking anything for granted.  My Leki hiking poles most certainly were a welcome addition both going up and coming down.

DSCN1584

I’ll leave you with my favorite picture from the hike.  I truly felt like I was in a foreign land, whisked away to the mountains of Africa or South America.  I am so proud of my hard work on this hike and for taking the risk – not letting rain and fog and inclement weather deter me from my desires.  Another wonder-filled adventure.

DSCN1596

Total Miles: 10

Elevation Gain: 2900 ft.

Difficulty (1-10): 7.5

Time: 4.5 hours out and back

Hike to Ball Mountain in the Southern Sierras

FSCN1103

For this hike, we decided to try and make it to the top of Ball Mountain, 9260 foot elevation.  We started the hike at 6500 feet, so close to a 3000 foot elevation gain.

The peak way in the back is Ball Mountain

The peak way in the back is Ball Mountain

The plan was to take the Wildrose Trail up about 3 miles then bushwhack straight up to a lower and smaller peak, then follow the ridge to the top of Ball Mountain.

DSCN1552
There was a good deal of snow and of course my hiking boots, as awesome as they are, are meant for summer…and I wore cotton socks, a big no no.

DSCN1545
Well a little turned to quite a lot of snow and we had to take breaks for me to warm my freezing little toes.  But despite the treacherous and steep terrain, the snow made it easier to keep grip and gave a nice sparkle to the view.

DSCN1542
I’m so glad I had my hiking poles, which look like really cool, adjustable ski poles (mine are made by Leki and are wonderful) because it really helped not only my stability but checking deeper pockets of snow for possible holes on unstable ground.

DSCN1547
Here the snow got so deep it was up to my knees.  Boy was I unprepared for that, though I am thankful for my Christmas present of sturdy hiking pants or I woulda been a popsicle!

At a certain point we reasoned that we did not have enough time to make it to the top of Ball and home while it was still light out, but I believe we made it well over half, possibly 2/3 the way up.

We got to a small peak and took a quick break for water and snacks, knowing we needed to make quick work of our way down.  Brian’s plan was to take us  down a dry creek bed on the other side of the mountain and kind of loop around to the main road and back to the car.  I did warn him that based on previous attempts at hiking through dry creeks in this area, that they often turn into sheer-walled cavern-like creeks.

We headed down and were quickly rewarded with dry conditions and some beautiful open fields.

DSCN1549

FSCN1085

Not many pictures for the rest of the trip because things got serious pretty quickly, as they are wont to do in these parts. We descended into the creek covered in boulders which I am not adept with quite yet (but getting better).  As predicted, the creek grew tall, sheer rock walls after awhile and we had to make the climb out.  Boy I need to remember to take better pictures.

We stumbled across some fun and crazy terrain, each pass thinking okay this is where we will head down but we really didn’t know what we were getting into. So we kept heading across until finally we ended up back on Wildrose Trail!

FSCN1101

Another adventure complete just in the nick of time, as usual.  We estimate that we hiked about 9-10 miles on this day, a total of five hours of hiking.

The Detour is the Path: A Manifesto

The Detour is the Path

I awoke one morning in the early hours with an image of myself, reaching out into the sky. Peeling away from my body was a transparent, ghost-like version of me. Slowly, it began to remove itself entirely and floated upwards with a string attached. It reminded me of a Disneyland balloon. A character caught in a moment and immortalized, floating there. My outstretched arm held on tight and reached, reached, reached for this soft image of myself as it began its ascent.

Though growing up in a quaint wooded suburban area, I have always identified more fully with a bustling city life. Lucky for me the urban I was a sub of happened to be New York City. In my young adulthood, I fashioned myself an artsy, independent, gutsy, city girl who performed spoken word and auditioned for plays. For over 16 years I lived in an urban area and adored it: my college town, NYC, Los Angeles. I even found an area of LA that blended what I loved and missed about New York (urban, creative, multicultural, walkable, hip) with hiking, palm trees and actual houses with actual yards. My career, oh my career, like so many ambitious creative females, became my sole reason for doing most anything. It has been my main squeeze, my fiancee, my child. I have always had very big, very real ideas for myself, staring down the bright lights of greatness. But the last few years I look more like a deer than a diva. Worn out and too unsure of myself to accomplish what I set out. The things I have accomplished just don’t feel like…enough. Well into my 30’s and I still feel like that girl just starting out.  Someone cue the violins for the pity party.

In walks my (now) boyfriend who, unbeknownst at the time, fulfilled a long wish-list of attributes I had tucked away in a forgotten spiral notebook. I realized months into our relationship that I had received exactly what I asked for when I met him. Which I can only mean that having him in my life is exactly what I needed. I moved in with him less than a year into our relationship, into a very pretty, tree-lined suburban enclave of Los Angeles, near the mountains. Explaining where I live to most of my ‘city’ friends takes almost as much time to explain as it does to drive there. This is not criticism, and perhaps only a very slight exaggeration. It has changed my life in a profoundly wonderful way.

The two of us travel often to a vacation home he bought 3 hours north of LA into the most remote version of life I have ever experienced. It is a “town” of 20 people and didn’t even have hard line phones until 1998. Oh, and I have seen at least one bear. I love it and wonder what the 2001 version of me would say. Yet still I am haunted by the feeling that I am floating further and further away from my heretofore citygirl identity. It makes me wonder if all the things I have endlessly pined for in my own Jane Austin-esque narrative are not ordained. If the things I have wanted are not what I have needed. My lucrative career in the arts as writer and actor. My home in the Silverlake hills or Fort Greene Brooklyn. Am I steering myself wrong or what? Is that not who I am really meant to be? I feel like three people. Myself as I am in this moment, myself of the past and whatever this being is forming in the immediate future. It may be reductive but I think this is what they call an existential crisis.

I awoke that day questioning such large parts of myself and where they fit into my new life with a man who wanted more and more the lovely respite of a life away from the city. A life away from the places I’ve always called mine. This imaginary house, this brownstone, this place inside a buzzing hive of city life, were all symbolic for me. All metaphor for a portion of myself which I felt I’ve slowly been losing. Decades of crafting myself in a certain way, but that truthfully have never quite blossomed into the widely accepted version of “success.” I happen to have an extraordinary group of friends and colleagues who accomplish with a capital ‘A.’ I pine endlessly over their Facebook status’ (a subject I nimbly tackle in another of my musings). Friends who have won Tony awards, SAG awards, booking roles left and right, selling pilots, financing films, inking development deals, travelling the world, receiving grants and fellowships, getting engaged, getting pregnant. “Then there was me: I ran two miles today with my dog.” “I really like the last episode of Homeland this season.” “I baked a pie!” Share, like, share, like. My BF says I don’t give myself enough credit but forgets he’s talking to a lifetime over-achiever.

The truth is, I was losing myself. I lacked passion and vigor in the same directions I had gone for so long. I would just stare blankly at the world waiting for someone to tell me what to do next.  Tired. Waiting for a smoke signal. Doing rain dances in my living room (which coincidentally we really need in California). I have watched the accomplishment of others with a deep longing, but without enough motivation. For awhile now I have much more passionate about a long hike, my ability to roast a Martha Stewart worthy chicken and the fact that I can visit my Mom without flying 3,000 miles. I have taken a detour and sometimes it really freaks me out.

I think my generation of women is unique. Us females in our 30’s / early 40’s, were handed women’s lib on a silver platter. We haven’t had to struggle nearly as hard to prove ourselves worthy as women of equal opportunity and respect.  Ambition is our birthright. And though I have a few (ok one) friend who we all knew was destined for motherhood, wifedom and what people like to call traditional values, you couldn’t have paid me to do any of that at 23. You spend your youth chasing a career and then suddenly you wake up in your 30’s or 40’s and are like, where am I? I don’t see this conundrum in the generation beneath mine.  More and more I am exposed to women who don’t want that same ambition – who want more traditional things. Perhaps it’s a testament to our struggling economy, I don’t know. But it’s there. It confounds me.

My very close girlfriend and I, also a long time actress and filmmaker, will pour a glass of pinot grigio and examine our burgeoning relationship with these ideals so much later in life. We talk about how over it we are. And by over it I don’t mean that we suddenly wanted to be accountants; we still want to create interesting work in entertainment using our given passions and skills – we simply refuse to approach it from the same frantic and desperate pace of seasons past.  Now, we are older, hopefully wiser, and pretty far from the woman she too fashioned herself as, but happy, really happy – just in a different way than she thought she would be.  We agree between sips that we must create our own paths and move forward on them once made. Then it dawns on me, like bushwhacking in the middle of the woods looking for the trail, I am losing myself and finding myself. The detour is the path. The losing is the finding. I can still get to where I want.

So here I am.  A new(ish) person in a new(ish) time of my life. I am thinking of the imaginary “me” of my former daydreams, long before I met my boyfriend. The overly romanticized movie-version of my life where my lover and I get caught on a Brooklyn street corner in a magical downpour and make out for hours. (FYI – that really happened to me, but it was not romantic as it sounds). The perfect version of my life where I do win a TONY award and sell several screenplays before the age of 30. Versions that only existed because I had no one and nothing real to pine over. I have been clinging desperately as water to the cloth and skin of fantasy. Now I have something real. Something wonderful and complicated and gorgeous. Something that requires me to move forward in the invention of myself and how I see the world. Requires me to move into the light, to let the clothing dry so things can fit again. Requires me to let this fading piece of me molt away, float away, and make room for what’s new. I must let go of the balloon.

Wine and Herb Poached Eggs with Avocado Toast

DSCN0499

I loved the idea of taking what would be a pretty rustic post-adventure breakfast and adding some serious elegance through the addition of white wine and fresh snipped herbs.  I based this recipe from one of mine and my sister Kate’s favorite cooks, Heidi Swanson and her site http://www.101cookbooks.com.  I made a couple adjustments to make it my own and it was definitely a big hit.  I’ll sure be trying more of her recipes on this blog.  Perfect with a good cup of strong coffee or tea and maybe some sliced heirloom tomatoes or slab, center-cut bacon on the side.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
2 shallots, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
a pinch of thyme
a pinch of marjoram
couple whole pink peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs                                                                                                                                                 1 tablespoon butter

DSCN0494
I began by cracking each of my eggs into little bowls to slip them into the pan a little easier later on.  Then, in a medium saucepan over med-high heat combine the dry white wine, water, shallots, garlic, marjoram, thyme, pink peppercorns and salt. Bring to boil then let it simmer.  Add the butter, cover and let it be for several minutes (5-6) to let the flavors meld.  With the liquid at simmer, gently slip your eggs into the saucepan. Cover and simmer until the eggs are set.  the whites should be mostly opaque and I like my yolks still runny but do as you like, probably 5-6 minutes.

This is where I toast my bread and mash my avocado with some lime and sea salt.  Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and set aside. Spread the avocado on the toast and lay the eggs on top.  Snip some fresh chives on top. Delish.

Additionals:
You can add some heat by putting a couple splashes of tabasco in the mashed avocado or even use some flour and butter to make a rue of your sauce in the pan as Heidi suggests.  I enjoyed mine without the sauce.