The Tragedy of Bad Tenderloin

A weekend of revelry and gluttonous calorie intake has left me feeling bloated and woozy.  Between Friday night and Sunday morning (don’t judge) with the help of a few other rabble rousers, consumptions included 11 bottles of wine, a dozen or so beer, a sea of vodka (give or take what got spilled on the counter and greedily lapped up), 7 wedges of cheese, a box of cookies, 8 ounces of Toblerone, two bags of popcorn and a pound of bacon….and then there were the meals. If you cut me I’d probably bleed out Pinot and dairy fat. Thank god empire waist blouses are still fashionable enough to wear to work tomorrow, a trend which will hopefully continue until I remember where the treadmill is located  in our basement.

In the mean time, despite all the cooking and eating that was done, there was very little photographing and recipe crafting.  The last entree we made with documentation was this marinated pork tenderloin.  Ooh, just look at that succulent and perfectly cooked beast.  Just a half hour previous it was sexily lounging in a pool of bourbon, vanilla and star anise laced marinade. The smell was intoxicating and the pork was so juicy, so tender, how could you resist?

I’ll tell you how:  it was absolute rubbish.


I really had the best of intentions with this one.  The bourbon and vanilla would complement the light earthy sweetness of the pork.  The star anise brought in a touch of herbalosity (real word.  I say so) and the liquid was sweetened ever so slightly more with a touch of maple and orange.  I dissolved in a tablespoon or two of instant espresso powder to ground the flavors with a smoky dark bitterness and there was just a wee touch of chipotle chili powder before a hit of applewood smoked salt was sprinkled on top and worked into the flesh.

In principle, this still sounds to me like it should have been delicious.  And yet, I repeat:  it was absolute rubbish.

Despite being cooked to perfection with just a modest blush of pink, the tenderloin was mediocre at best.  The rich notes of bourbon and espresso had disappeared without even leaving a Post-It to say goodbye.  The star anise officially hit rock bottom and got lost.  It can probably be found wandering along the 401 sipping on mouthwash out of a Dixie cup.  The only flavor that remained was the vanilla, brassy slut that she is, and although I had used a pure organic vanilla extract the flavor tasted flat, raw and chemical.  At best, it was like a randy pork tenderloin drank 5 fingers of whiskey and shacked up with a sugar cookie.  This was his 8 a.m. walk of shame.

Three things that were reinforced by this tragedy of the porcine kind:

1.  It’s possible for your food to look delicious, be perfectly cooked, and still taste like nards.

2.  Even if flavors SHOULD go together, sometimes it just doesn’t work.

3.  You can’t correct a bad dish with salt alone.  An entire shaker wouldn’t have been enough to season this bad boy into polite company.

I do have a slightly dogged determination so I’m willing to try the vanilla/bourbon theory again with some tweaks and turns, but in the mean time?  All that you get is a picture of food that should have been delicious but totally lied.


In happier news, we just did our second bout of Hallowe’ening.  The only thing that I think is more fun than dressing up and asking strangers for candy is dressing up and being a stranger that gives children candy.  We had a moderate turn out this year of about 30 – 40 wee ones.  I was hoping for more, because even if there were 100 children at the door I would still be hoping for more.  I love Hallowe’en.

The only beef that I have is that the rules for Hallowe’en seem to have changed so much from when I was a child.  I have dressed up every Hallowe’en for as long as I can remember.  It didn’t matter if I was trick-or-treating (which I did well into my teens, despite the ornery adults that used to try to shame me into feeling too old after I hit 11. Too old to beg for candy?  I don’t think s0) or just loitering around town. Because really, loitering is fun when you’re young, but it’s always more fun to loiter in costume.  This year we saw some fabulous Momma-sewed costumes, a few creatively cobbled guises, a huge number of off-the-rack rags, and the last 10% was… that were just standing there with a bag.  Wearing their coats.  And civvies.

I understand that Hallowe’en isn’t for everyone, and some children even find the thought of dressing up to be distasteful at best.  However, suck it up. If you don’t dress up you don’t deserve Hallowe’en candy.  I would like institute a global more which states that a lack of costume is a tacit and understood refusal of the right to engage in candy gathering behaviors.  I would also like to tell you that I put my foot down and denied party-poopers their candy, but the truth is that I just couldn’t say no when the little bastards came around with their hoodies and scowls.  If you come to my door with an empty bag I’m going to put something in it.  That’s just all there is to it, and this mantra applies not just to Hallowe’en but pretty much every day.  You can come to my house empty handed, but you’re certainly not going to leave that way.  Even if you trick-or-treat without a costume (sigh).  But, but, I didn’t praise them on a job well done.  So, uh, denial of affection?  No, I know, they couldn’t care less.  I’ll try to work out a better strategy for next year, which will likely include stern looks and a special bowl of candy from the Dollar Store.

On the plus side, there were some priceless moments.  Our first visitor was my friend Kim and her baby elephant.  Apparently, when you’re 2.5 years old, dressing up and getting candy is fun but PILES OF LEAVES are waaaay better.  Who knew that elephants liked leaves?  Note:  they do.  Elephants, as a species, are bored by adults and standing still, but can be easily compelled to frolic when provided with a pile of leaves and an open opportunity.


I dress up every year, even if we’re just staying home to give out candy.  This also means that Mike dresses up every year, because frankly I don’t give him a choice.  This year Mike was dressed as…um….a virgin, complete with a unicorn, glasses and a tee with a Simpson’s reference on it. Some chicks dig a man in uniform, but a man in unicorn is really more my style.


For myself, I was dressed as Mexico’s most prominent deceased bisexual revolutionary painter.  That’s Frida Kahlo, just in case.  Thanks to Hollywood for putting out a movie on her life a few years back (even if I am still a little bit huffy that Salma Hayek was playing Frida.  I mean, seriously.  Being Hispanic is not enough) because thankfully that meant that fewer people scratched their heads and offered to refer me to an aesthetician for my uni-brow.  Sigh.  That’s alright though, it was still more of a success than the real tooth fairy (read: demonic) or Freudian Slip costumes of years past.


Mike made the mistake of asking me this morning about whether he could take down some of our Hallowe’en decorations now that it’s over.  The answer:  absolutely!  Of course!  I’m a reasonable person!  Feel free to clean and pack them up to your heart’s content.  As long as I get to take down your Christmas tree on December 26th.

(The decorations stay)

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Hallowe’en!!  If you need me, I’ll just be over there…at the grocery store, buying discount snack-size candy bars.  For….uh…..the children that couldn’t go out this year.  Yes, that’s right.  For the children.

  • Stephanie

    Why are you still so gorgeous with a unibrow! Not fair.

  • Kristie

    I love that Mike has a child-sized Simpsons shirt. I love that you have a matching finger puppet and a glorious unibrow. But more than anything, I love that elephant. That has to be the cutest baby ever (I say this primarily from the FB photos, where you can see her full elephantal glory). Also, her costume ROCKS.

    Your tenderloin really does look fabulous. It’s a shame that it was only masquerading as delicious, though it makes me feel better that you sometimes make less-than-spectacular food, since everything else you post about looks and sounds perfect all the time, whereas I post about things like chili dogs–complete with lecture, and you’re right, I am lucky to live where I even have an option. Sorry for sounding all complain-y.

    Anyway, Happy Hallowe’en (Canadian spelling!) and if you’d like you may borrow our American Thanksgiving so you can keep any multi-tasking decorations like gourds and fall leaves up for just a bit longer.

    • Mike

      Ahem. “Child-sized”? I am all virginal MAN!

      Seriously, that shirt fits everywhere but my arms, which is less a comment about their dazzling size and more one about the puny-ness of the rest of me.

  • Jacquie

    Oh, boy. I know pork-related failure rather well. Although, my failure(s) does not look as pretty as yours. I tend to stick with cider-based brines for pork after a spectacular vanilla related mess. (How does vanilla always manage to taste like chemicals? urk.)

    You look a perfect Frida Khalo. What a great costume!

  • Ivy

    Your look great Tina. Sorry to hear about the pork although it looks delicious.

  • Kristie

    Mike, darling, I can see your midriff. The shirt is child-sized.

    Or, you are such a bulky, musclified MAN virgin that regular sized man shirts don’t fit you.

    • Tara

      I had to scroll up to check, but damn if you aren’t right!

      You lose this one Mike. Better luck next time.

      • Mike

        Oh, that’s because my unicorn was riding up. That thing was DEFINITELY child-sized.


        (heh heh heh)

  • MEP

    Can you throw it in the crockpot with some sweet barbecue sauce? And maybe salvage it a little bit?

  • Alison

    Are you sure you’ve located ALL of your decorations? Every single little mouse and skeleton that I tried to hide around your house? Are you SURE SURE?

  • Margie

    Sorry about the bad tenderloin. You guys look cute, though.

  • Tina

    Stephanie – I will assume that’s sarcasm.

    Kristie – can American Thanksgiving also include goblins, skeletons and spider webs? Because if so, I’m SO there!!! I agree, the wee elephant was one of the cutest things I had ever seen (hence the gratuitous FB pics). She’s such a doll that I’m ALMOST compelled to consider having some of our own….. but not quite. Also: you’re FAR too kind. I make sub-par food pretty often, I just don’t post about it. What people don’t know……
    Oh yes, and if all chili dogs looked like the one that you posted? I would have to buy stock in Pepto, but it would be totally worth it.

    Kristie/Tara – um….it actually is an adult sized shirt. And please, let us say no more about this or I’ll have to listen to Mr. Marathon Runner’s omplaints of, “I’m so faaaaaat”. Take mercy on me.

    Jacquie – that’s awesome! You totally see what I mean, then! Vanilla + pork SEEMED like a good idea at the time…..

    Ivy & Margie – aw, thanks ladies! Yup. It was a bummer, but such is life.

    MEP – you know how when a dog poops on the carpet you rub his nose in it? Well, I forced myself to eat the leftovers for 2 days. It wasn’t inedible, just…..blah. Having to eat crappy pork for 3 days straight was a REALLY good insurance to not make that mistake twice 🙂

    Alison – oh jeez. No, probably not. Mike threw a random skeleton at me yesterday. I have no idea where he got it from. However, you know when you find a half-melted Easter egg under the cushion in August? And how you’re still kind of excited about it, because hey, it’s an Easter egg? That’s how I’ll be when I’m still finding glow in the dark mice come February.