Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year Thoughts and Maple-Mustard Glazed Pork

Pebble Beach, CA

Hello and Happy 2012! 

I hope that all of you have started off your New Year with a smile on your face, but most importantly, a smile in your heart. I know that it is not always possible to have a smile on your face, and that is okay. I look at smiles and those events/people/thoughts/things/emotions that caused them to not be of just that one moment, but forever part of your memory, forever something that you can call upon in the depths of sadness, forever something that can make you smile again and remind you that you can always find happiness in your heart. 

2011 was a year in which I learned what it feels like to truly love, and I learned that pain goes hand in hand with fully opening your heart to love. I never knew that you had to have one to really know the other. Humans are given the ability to feel both the heart filling warmth of love, and the heart chilling grip of pain. No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape either. Until 2011, I had experienced love, but I had escaped pain, I had lived a blissful life. Yes, certainly I had my hiccups, those things that at the time seemed unbearable, but in retrospect were but minor pauses or detours, and in the end I can see them as necessary events that I can now appreciate. 

Perhaps at some point I will look back at 2011 and appreciate the changes that this year brought to my outlook on life, but at this point it is all still a bit raw and painful, but I am trying. In January we lost our sweet baby Christine just a moment before we were to hold her kicking and screaming in our arms. In November we then lost our second baby much earlier in the pregnancy, at 11 weeks. I did not know that a heart could hurt as much as mine hurt with out physically breaking into millions of pieces. We lost our foundation of hope and security, we lost our smiles on our faces and in our hearts. I thought the best thing to do was to close my heart off to everything so that I could avoid having that depth of pain ever enter my life again. I now know that closing your heart is not only physically and emotionally exhausting but completely unsustainable and impossible.  

We will always love and miss our sweet Christine, and we will always wonder what life would have been like if our babies were with us in life. But that imagined life cannot be, and I cannot live life with a closed heart. Now, at the start of the new year, it is from Christine whom we draw strength, our baby who is not in our physical lives, but will always be in our hearts as both a smile and a tear, and that is a comfort, a comfort that lets me look towards the future with her in my heart, a heart that must be open to feel love and hope again.

You cannot close your heart off to try to avoid pain, because if you do this, then you cannot feel the love that makes life worth living. Life is bittersweet. You have to have both the bitter and the sweet to appreciate both parts of life. That is what I learned in 2011. Bunker and I are relieved that 2011 is over, as it was a year far more bitter than sweet. So, 2012, we greet you with open hearts, and we hope that you will bring more smiles than tears, more sweet than bitter. 

I hope that each of you will also open your hearts to the new year, and I hope that it brings all of the smiles a year can possibly provide. 

Now...onto food. 

Printer Friendly Version

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pork tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey Dijon mustard

1. Gather your ingredients. I know this might sound like something you can skip, and indeed, you can and the food will still turn out just fine. However, if you want a far less stressful experience cooking...then gather and measure out all of your ingredients. Therefore, once you start cooking, you really can relax and just enjoy the process rather than run around the kitchen trying to get everything together while your food is burning!

2. Heat a heavy skillet or pot (like a dutch oven), something that has a lid, over medium-high heat. 
3. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and swirl to coat. 
4. Meanwhile, sprinkle the pork loin with the pepper and salt. 

5. Add the pork loin to the pan. 

6. Brown the pork loin for about 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

7. Once browned, remove the pork loin from the pan and set aside. 

8. Add the broth, syrup, thyme and garlic to the pan. 

9. Heat the broth mixture until boiling and stir often to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Isn't this a cool little device? You clip it to the side of your pot and it holds your spoon so that it (a.) does not get your counter dirty with the spoon, and (b.) you will not burn the side of your spoon when you lay it up against the side of the pot. Two things that I used to do all of the time. This was a Christmas present from my mom, thanks mom!
10. Add the vinegar and mustard to the boiling broth mixture. Cook for one minute and stir constantly. 

11. Return the pork loin to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. 
12. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 15 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. 
Do you own a meat thermometer? If not, go get one! They have made cooking meat a million times easier and I am far more confident in the kitchen.

13. Remove the pork from the pan and place in a service dish. Cover with the cooking liquid, which should be rather thick. 

14. Enjoy with a hearty bread and a salad of spinach, cranberries, almonds, carrots, croutons and a honey mustard dressing.

Love, Shafer.

I'm sleepy. 
Love, Cort.


  1. Suzie, I'm so sorry for your pain. I hope 2012 brings healing to you both.
    I've enjoyed reading your blog, thanks so much for sharing the links on facebook!

  2. Hello Suzie. Uncle Joe and I ate this scrumptious pork tenderloin this evening! Yummmm. It even looked very close to your photo! Uncle Joe said the reason it turned out SO well is because the last 2 minutes HE checked on it, moved it around in the sauce so it was somewhat blessed by "the Joe Jackson" LOL. Works for me! I also measured everything out prior to beginning and you are so right...makes it much easier when the cooking begins! We will for sure make this again EVEN though we make our living in the beef business. ha! Hugs for you in 2012!