Saturday, November 27, 2021

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COVID Cooking: Meal for a crowd

No. XX in our continuing series on easy home cooking during the pandemic.

With the waning of the virus as more and more people get vaccinated, outdoor gatherings are a welcome change to the long months of isolation. It’s still important to wear a mask and practice social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy outdoor cooking and sharing a meal with friends and family this summer. Hopefully the Delta variant won’t surge and steal away this joy!

Every summer this cook shares a vacation house with three other families. Each family takes a turn cooking dinner for 12-14 people. This year’s menu featured Indian, hamburgers and hot dogs, pasta with meat sauce, lobster night and lamb kebabs.

This cook’s contribution was grilled pork tenderloin and fancy cornbread served with green beans, a menu inspired by my mother, who is my inspiration in all things cooking.

The pork recipe features the technique for making a garlic paste. This is a key skill to have. The cornbread recipe features how to “clabber” milk in the absence of buttermilk. This is an easy technique and a lifesaver!

The pork recipe also features Fox Point seasoning blend from Penzey’s spices ( If you do now know about Penzey’s, you should. The company is committed to social justice and the products are outstanding. They ship everywhere and often have amazing specials. Get on their email list. Just reading the letters from the owner is worth it.

Fox Point Seasoning was on hand in the vacation house. This cook prefers Northwoods Seasoning or Bicentennial Rub, but any Penzey’s spice blend is fantastic!

Credit goes to “The Joy of Cooking” for guidelines and proportions from “French Dressing or Sauce Vinaigrette,” page 311.

Note: I know South Dakota is beef country. I’m not sure how this recipe could translate to a small beef loin or roast. But cooking is all about creativity, so it might be worth a try!

Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin

A COVID Cooking exclusive

Serves 12

You will need:

Gallon-sized freezer storage bag, small jar with tight-fitting lid or small bowl and a whisk, measuring spoons and liquid measuring cup, 8 or 10-inch chef’s knife, cutting board, paper towels, charcoal or gas grill, tongs, serving platter, sharp slicing knife.


Three 2-2.5 lb pork tenderloins, about 8 lbs total

2-3 garlic cloves


Black pepper

Corn or olive oil

Optional: leftover red wine

Vinegar or lemon juice (red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or rice wine vinegar in a pinch)

Maple syrup (or sugar, honey, molasses or brown sugar)

Optional (but strongly recommended) seasoning blend. See note above. If nothing from Penzey’s, use Italian seasoning or pizza seasoning.


Rinse the loins and pat dry with paper towels. Place in storage bag.

Place unpeeled garlic cloves on cutting board. Place the flat of the chef’s knife on top of the cloves and hit the blade with the heel of your hand until the cloves crack and can be removed from the skin. Remove the skin and smash the cloves again.

Gather the pieces of garlic meat together and sprinkle with about 1 tsp salt. Smash the mixture until it’s flat and thin. Gather into a mound and briefly mince. Smash again.

Gather into a mound and drag the flat of the blade of the knife across the mound back and forth until it’s flat. Repeat until you have a paste.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, put in paste with equal parts oil and vinegar (about 2 T each) or one part wine, one part vinegar and two parts oil. Add 1-2 tsp maple syrup or sweetener. Add salt, pepper and seasoning to taste.

Tighten lid and shake to emulsify. Taste and adjust as needed.

Pour into bag with meat and seal. Set in fridge and marinade for several hours or overnight.

Take out at least an hour before cooking to allow to come to room temperature.

Preheat grill as hot as it will go and sear meat. Then lower temperature and cook slowly, turning every 5 minutes. Check at 15 minutes.

Remove from heat at 140° and allow to rest. The temperature will slowly rise to 145°. Slice thin and serve with pan juices.

Fancy Cornbread for a party

A COVID Cooking exclusive

Serves 32

You will need:

Large mixing bowl, rubber spatula, measuring spoons, dry and liquid measuring cups, cheese grater, cutting board or large plate, two 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillets (strongly recommended!) or two 9×11 baking pans.


8 eggs

4 C grated Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese (I have successfully used goat cheese)

4 8 ½ oz. cans cream-style corn (add/substitute fresh corn off the cob)

4 C yellow cornmeal

1 C white flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

6 T sugar

4 C buttermilk (or 4 C milk and 1 C white vinegar, cider vinegar works in a pinch)

2/3 C corn or vegetable oil

Black pepper

8 shakes nutmeg (I have successfully used paprika.)

2 T butter

Optional: two small cans of chopped green chilis


Preheat oven to 400°. Beat eggs well with a pinch of salt. Combine all other ingredients with eggs. Put a pat of butter in each pan and place pans in over. The secret to good cornbread is hot irons! Get pan piping hot and melt butter to swirl and coat pan.

Fill pans with mixture and bake for 30 minutes until golden-brown on top. Tap the center with your finger. It should be moist but not wet. Serve hot. If needed, can be reheated at 350° for 10-15 mins covered with foil.

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