Monthly Archives: December 2012

Adding a little color

A couple of “colorful” songs are the recent additions on the Ukulele page: “It’s Not Easy Being Green” (Joe Raposo) and “Edelweiss” (Rodgers & Hammerstein).

Like a lot of people, I never realized that at the end of Being Green, Kermit has actually come to terms with his green-ness, and is no longer sad about being the color of the leaves. Well, I say “a lot of people” because I really hope I’m not alone in this… But it’s such a beautiful song, and my first attempt at Jazz chords with the uke. Minor 6ths and Major 7ths, ho!

Edelweiss is one of my all-time favorite musical songs. The poor Captain, coerced into playing for the children, chooses a simple, but powerful, patriotic ballad. The song is a symbol of his resolve to resist his government’s cooperation with Nazi Germany, as much as the flower is a symbol of the peaceful Austrian countryside he wishes to protect.

Oh, colors. Right, well Being Green is obvious. And Edelweiss is a white (weiss) flower.

Listen to them here:

It’s Not Easy Being Green:

Edelweiss:

Rainbow connections

Well, one of the few TV shows, musical styles, etc., that my daughter and I have in common is Glee. Yes, I’m a Gleek. They do really interesting arrangements of songs that I probably would never have listened to otherwise, as well as great standards.

So, through Glee I got to hear this crazy fun arrangement of Over the Rainbow, which, I later learned (while inter-tubing to find the chords and lyrics so I could learn to play it) was originally done this way by a fellow named Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (aka, Brudda Iz), an amazing ukulele player and singer whom I had never, ever heard before.

Apparently, you can find about a trillion versions of this song out there… but I wanted to record it anyway! So, it’s on the ukulele page, or you can listen here.

Whistlin’ Beethoven

Beethoven. On the ukulele. Don’t hate, now… I remember hearing the 9th Symphony for the first time and thinking to myself, “Holy crap, what just happened?” In a good way, in a good way! I was blown away, all the intricate vocal lines going in and out of the finale… the Ode to Joy. Whatever troubles Beethoven created for his loved ones, by being so cantankerous, perhaps they forgave him after they heard the 9th!

So, I put the basic theme of the Ode to Joy to the ukulele, and some whistling (with harmony!), and the “well known” lyrical verse, all on the ukulele page. Or, give it a listen here.

Pork Tenderloin, Three Ways

Our office likes to celebrate with food, and the holidays are one of the best excuses to do so early and often! For our office pot-luck holiday buffet, I decided that in addition to the turkey (which a friend did on her rotisserie, and it was awesome!), I would grill up some pork tenderloin on the Egg. Why tenderloin? Well, because we hadn’t done that, yet!

I had recently made apricot glazed pork chops for the wife and daughter, to positive reviews, so I knew that I wanted to do something with apricots for these tenderloins. I had also had some baklava at our local bakery, and that got me thinking in a Greek sort of manner. Finally, earlier in the month I had made a mushroom gravy for some steaks we had at home, so I knew I wanted something with mushrooms, too! Well, Pork Tenderloin Three Ways was born!

This resulted in six tenderloins (each about 1 pound), with two each of the three stuffings I decided to make:

  1. Apricot – Gruyere
  2. Spinach – Feta – Sun dried tomato
  3. Wild Mushroom – Bacon – Shallot

Along the way, I also had to learn to butterfly pork tenderloin, and substitute a small glass for a tenderizing hammer… Clearly, I need more kitchen gadgets!

After butterflying the tenderloin, I “hammered” it flat and added one of the stuffings (in this case, the spinach – feta – sun dried tomato). Then, wrapped it all up and closed it with toothpicks.

Prepped pork, with start of stuffing

Prepped pork, with start of stuffing

Add the feta...

Add the feta…

Wrap it all up!

Wrap it all up!

Ingredients
Apricot – Gruyere
Big handful of dried apricots, sliced
1/2 cup local honey
Shot of coffee brandy (or substitute)
1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese, cubed

Spinach – Feta – Sun dried Tomato
Big handful of fresh spinach, roughly cut.
1/2 package of Feta cheese (about 1/2 cup, or 3oz), crumbled
Handful of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced
Oil
Garlic, sliced
Crushed red pepper (to taste – I used about 2 t)

Wild Mushroom – Bacon – Shallot
Mix of wild mushrooms, about 1.5 cups, chopped
1/2 pound bacon
6 shallots, sliced round
4 cloves garlic, smashed and diced
1 sprig rosemary
Two pinches salt
Lots of black pepper

Preparation
For the Apricot – Gruyere, I put about a cup of water in a small pot and added the apricots. Got it to boil, then reduced heat (but kept boiling). Boiled down to 1/2 volume. Added another cup of water. Continued to boil down until roughly 1/2 cup liquid was remaining. Added the honey. Continued to boil another few minutes, then added the brandy. Cooked until thick. You can add the cheese to the mix at this point, or wait until you’re assembling the pork.

For the Spinach – Feta – Sun dried tomato, I got a skillet hot, added the oil. Added garlic, crushed red pepper, and sun dried tomatoes. Let a slight char form on the tomatoes. Added spinach all at once, and continued heating until spinach lost some volume, but was still bright green (i.e., don’t cook it until it shrivels into nothing). Removed from heat. At this point you can stir in the feta if you want, or just add it later when you prepare the pork roll.

Finally, for the Wild Mushroom – Bacon – Shallot, I got a skillet hot, and added bacon. Cooked until medium crisp, and reserved 2 T of the grease in the skillet. Chopped the bacon, and set it aside. In the same skillet, added reserved grease, got it hot again, and added shallots and garlic. Sauted until just softening. Added salt and the mushrooms. Sauted until mushrooms shrank a little. Added lots of freshly ground black pepper, along with the bacon. Heated it all through.

on_egg

sliced_spinach

Spinach – Feta – Sun dried tomato

sliced_apricot

Apricot – Gruyere

Execution
Alright, time to bring in the Egg! I got the Egg up to 400F, set for direct heat. I brushed each tenderloin with olive oil, and did the same to the grill.

The plan was to get the tenderloin onto the grill by 11:15, grill them for about 30 minutes, then have them rest another 10 minutes before slicing, and then serving at noon.

Oddly enough, it actually worked out that way!

Just before I added the tenderloin to the Egg, I tossed on a handful of apple wood chips. As the tenderloin grilled, I turned them every 5 minutes or so, for a total of about 35 minutes. I used a remote thermometer, and was going for an internal temperature of 140F. Once they hit that (after 35 minutes), I pulled them off and let them rest.

Finally, we sliced and enjoyed!

Personally, my favorite was the Spinach – Feta – Sun dried tomato… The tomatoes were so concentratedly sweet, with the touch of crushed red pepper and smooth feta cheese… Sakes alive!

All in all, a great time on the Egg, and when you added in all the other pot-luck items, it was a real feast!