Recipe: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

teriyaki-pork-recipe

March break is behind us now, but it was so decadent when it came to pulling together family dinners. Most nights, we had an extra grown up around to either help in the kitchen or keep the kids entertained. We ate out a few times and got fed by Grandma one night, too. 

On the days I was on my own with the kids, it was still a nice pace. Normally, I'm coming or going from an after-school activity at the exact time my kids need to be eating — because they are S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G after a long day! The break gave us lots of time to get home from our outings and get dinner on the table with minimal drama.

We're back in the thick of a busy schedule again now. Our family is big and our activities are many. I've also taken on some new roles and responsibilities, in addition to my writing work, and we've had to be even more organized than usual.

The night before we returned to school and work and activities, I did a big grocery shop to prepare for a few days of lunch boxes and two night's worth of dinners. We tend to shop on a three day cycle, so that we're meal planning for two days ahead. I find a full week of planning never pans out, but every three days works well to cover any last minute changes to our schedule. 

Monday mornings, JB gets up first with the boy who has an earlier school start than his sisters. While dad is hanging out with him, he makes the school lunches for the day. He walks him to his bus stop and then leaves for work. I get the girls up and ready for school and, while they're getting themselves breakfast, I use the time to drink my coffee and do a quick dinner prep if I can (read: if we're not scrambling through any forgotten homework or piano practice).

This week it was my teriyaki pork tenderloin recipe. It takes less than five minutes to do the prep and it tastes so great. It's one of my youngest daughter's favourite meals. 

My mom taught me to cook using my intuition, when it comes to seasoning and flavouring food, so a lot of the meals I make are an improvisation. 

Here's my recipe for the teriyaki marinade (give or take a little):

  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

I add the pork tenderloin to a large Ziploc bag, throw in the ingredients, seal the bag and then give it all a really good massage before throwing it into the refrigerator for the day (in the sealed bag). If you prefer to use a dish, I would whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl before pouring over the pork tenderloin. 

When we get home from school and work, I pop the pork tenderloin into an oven-safe dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep it from drying out. I bake it at 420 degrees for about 25 minutes. Slice open the centre and check for pinkness (adjust cooking time as required).

When it's fully cooked, I slice the tenderloin into medallions and serve it with rice or egg noodles and a vegetable. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Baby

birthday-baby

I hear the sound of the stepstool being scraped and shoved across the tiled bathroom floor. I'm in another room helping your big sister with her homework. Your dad is somewhere else in the house, trying to tackle a science fair project with your brother. 

I don't stand up. I don't go to you. 

I'm a different parent than I used to be. Maybe you've benefited from that or maybe you were always this way and we both got lucky because I was ready for you.

A decade ago, that sound would have sent me running to investigate, to make sure there wasn't any trouble or something unsafe happening. But I know you're capable, and I know you'll call for me if you want help. 

It's only when I hear a muffled giggling that I look for you. And I find you stretched across the sink so your face is as close to the mirror as you can bring it. Your legs and feet are straight out behind you and your belly is balanced on the counter's edge. There's a wad of toilet paper coming from your mouth.

You turn to me with lit up eyes, "I pulled my tooth out, Mama!"

I was a confident mother when you came into my life; my last baby. I was ready to take everything I had learned about myself and give it to you. 

You are confident, too. You don't accept or do anything unless it makes you happy. If I was still in the earliest days of parenthood, you might have made me crumble. Instead you make me swell.

I was going to give you my confidence, but every day since you arrived, you have been handing it back to me. And as I watch you grow, I'm growing too. 

I've learned that I'm not bound to whatever path I first took as a parent. Each of you have taken me in different directions. Each of you have forgiven the mistakes I made along the way. 

When I walk beside you, I am strong. 

"It's almost my birthday, Mama. I want to look like a big kid."

Tears flood my eyes as I lean into your new smile and tap you on your tiny nose. 

"Hi, baby," I whisper. 

And you roll your eyes and flash your dimples, like we're exchanging a secret joke. 

You'll let me get away with it this time, but without saying a word we both understand there's no baby in the room with us. 

I watch as you run from the bathroom with your prized tooth. I let you sort out where you'll put it in anticipation of tonight's tooth fairy visit

You are always running ahead. And even though I want you to stay right beside me, I let the space open between us. 

I know you'll call, if you need me. 

And even if it's just for a moment, you'll let me catch you. 

 

 

 

New Year, New Traditions: Family Fondue

It's a new year and our family is a year older. When you are parenting young children, this growing up business can be really exciting. Moving past the cumbersome, workhorse days of babies and toddlers can feel like a liberation of sorts. For me, there's a mix of satisfaction (at getting through it) and sadness (at saying goodbye).

I can feel the magic of this time of year inching closer to an end. Sleepy faces wearing footed pajamas and poking us awake when it's still dark. Plates of cookies for Santa and wide-eyed wonder at the gifts he has left for us. The six of us rumbling around the house together in that quiet space between Christmas and the new year. I will miss all of it.

But having older kids means we can bring in new traditions. This year, I decided we would bravely and boldly try fondue for our new year's eve meal (I really know how to let my hair down these days). It hasn't been on my radar until now, because I couldn't imagine a meal made up of repeated safety warnings about boiling cheese and hot pots would feel very festive or relaxing. 

family-fondue-night

Most of the recipes I found for the cheese sauce had ingredients like dry mustard, garlic and Worcestershire sauce (which would probably be delicious, unless you're a kid), but I opted to keep it simple and plain-tasting and added a flavourful cheese to the cheddar instead.

  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • pinch of salt to flavour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk (or to desired thickness)

Pre-mix the two cheeses and toss with the flour and salt, then set aside. Heat the milk on the stove until it's bubbling at the edges and then slowly add cheese while whisking constantly. Once all the cheese has melted, transfer to the fondue pot.

  • boiled mini potatoes
  • cubed ham
  • cured sausage chunks
  • sirloin steak cubes (pre-cooked)
  • steamed broccoli
  • red pepper strips
  • apple slices
  • pear slices
  • chunks of fresh bread
family-fondue

Anyone who feeds kids knows it's hit-and-miss when you try new food, but not this time — everyone liked it! Being able to choose which items to eat and which ones to dip was a big part of the enjoyment. 

And we didn't stop with cheese. I had a smaller, ceramic and candlelit fondue set for dessert. I melted a block of semi-sweet baker's chocolate in a pot on the stove and slowly added evaporated milk until it was a nice consistency. We dipped pineapple, strawberries, gigantic marshmallows and chunks of pound cake. A friend of mine has since suggested melting a giant Toblerone bar: brilliant. 

family-fondue

It ended up being a fantastic way for us to ring in the new year as a family. It was interactive, silly and different from the usual meals we have around the table. I only delivered warnings about the hot pot about 10 times before JB's sideways look told me I had reached maximum safety nut levels. 

Family rating for family fondue night: FIVE STARS.