Sunday, December 04, 2016

Advent Herbs: Pork Tenderloin with Maple and Sage

This advent season, I am trying to channel my inner Adelma Grenier Simmons.....

Adelma was one of the leading herbal figures in America in the 20th century. A legend for her knowledge of herbal lore and history, she was also a prolific author and sparked an interest in herb gardening across the country. Known as "The First Lady of Herbs," she owned and operated Caprilands Herb Farm in Coventry, Connecticut for over 55 years.  Back in the early 1990s, I was really into herbal wreath making.  I love reading Adelma's books, her writing style is such that I can envision her sitting at an antique desk in her drafty library at Caprilands writing out her drafts about herbs in longhand, sipping some chamomile tea she grew herself.   Then, she would haul out a typrewriter and type it up double spaced.  Perhaps she would have a lit candle nearby, and she would be looking out over the snow covered fields of her farm in the blue gray light of Advent.   I don't know if that's what she did as Caprilands is no longer as her 3rd husband seems to have run it into the ground after her death in the 90s,   I love the way she writes about celebrating nature by combining both Druid and Catholic festivals.   I wish I could have met her in person.

Adelma would most certainly be thinking about making an Advent wreath at this time, featuring the herbs of advent:
  • Juniper, cedar and pine protected the Holy Family on their flight from Egypt.
  • Ivy denotes the trinity.
  • Lavender represents purity and virtue, lavender is said to have received its lovely scent when it served as the drying rack for the Baby Jesus' swaddling clothes
  • Sage stands for immortality.
  • Horehound is a wish for good health.
  • Rue is a symbol or virtue and banishes evil.
  • Thyme another manger herb stands for bravery and strength of Christ.
  • Rosemary is for remembrance: its flowers changed from white to blue in Mary’s honor.
  • Bedstraw, is considered a manager herb.
  • Pennyroyal, is supposed to have bloomed at midnight on Christmas Eve in  Christ’s honor.
  • Costmary, also known as Bible leaf and used as a bookmark the fragrance chases insects, was used by Mary Magdalene to make an ointment for the baby Jesus.
  • Tansy is associated with immortality.

I ordered one of Adelma's books on Amazon.....

Until it arrives, I will have to do a little internet research.  I don't have a huge herb farm and I don't even know where I could buy most of this stuff.   Making herbal wreaths went out of style at the end of the 90s and I don't see anyone selling dried herbs like they used to do.   But I will look around and try to cook with some of these herbs.   So today, on the second Sunday of Advent, I will make a recipe that features sage.  I have a pork tenderloin from the hog we bought at the start of fall.    I hope I have enough room in the freezer for the beef quarter that is coming this week!   I found this recipe at Eating Well,,,,,I am modifying it a bit to serve my tastes.    It is suggested to serve with barley, roasted squash and a pinot noir....sounds excellent to me!    I'm going to have to go to the store for some fresh sage.   I didn't grow any in a container on my patio as I usually do.   I must have forgot.  I used to have a sage plant that lasted for years on my is winter hardy.    But it finally died and I haven't remembered to plant another.   I'll need to do it next spring for sure.    I've got some maple syrup that my friend Evelyn made last spring.  Sounds good for a gray day like today!  I am hopeful we are going to get the snow that is forecast for tomorrow.

Pork Tenderloin with Maple and Sage

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine 1 tablespoon mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl; rub all over pork. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 160°F.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.

To make the pan sauce, place the skillet over medium-high heat (take care, the handle will still be hot), add vinegar, and boil, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, about 30 seconds. Whisk in maple syrup and the remaining 2 tablespoons mustard; bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Slice the pork. Add any accumulated juices to the sauce along with sage. Serve the pork topped with the sauce.

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