Category: Eat This Blog

Eat This Blog: Sage Apple Onion Pork Loin

I happen to have a 13-year-old who is enjoying growing his own herb garden. Ryan’s not a member of 4-H, FFA or any of those other organizations which generally promote this type of behavior.

He simply has an herb garden. And loves it.

Ryan is quite proud of this garden and has begun bringing me fresh herbs to use in my cooking. The first delivery has occured and it was a couple containers, each holding big leaves of sage and basil respectively. Sage works quite well with both pork and stuffing so I decided those would be the big items of tonight’s dinner. For some sweetness, the pork loin would be covered in a good apple butter, specifically from Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Indiana. I finely-chopped a good handful of Ryan’s fresh sage, added it to the apple butter, and then coated the pork loin with it. I then cut some sweet onion, Red Delicious apples and a couple bulbs of kohlrabi into large chunks. These fuits and vegetables made a bed in the bottom of a roasting pan, and the pork loin went on top. These slow-roasted at 200 degrees F for 4.5 hours. As you can see in the above photo, I served it with some stuffing and steamed vegetable as well.

Thank you, Ryan, for helping me create a great dinner!

Dinner at Hillside House, St. Ignace, Michigan

There are many places in the Great Lakes region where Whitefish is listed in the menus of restaurants as being “fresh” as well as being labeled with, “caught locally”. The Straits of Mackinac, located between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, is one of those places where this designation for fish can be quite valid. This evening I was able to enjoy some broiled Whitefish that had likely been swimming this morning.

Prior to last year’s Michigan Association of Mayors workshop and conference, Mary and I enjoyed a lunch at Snug Harbor overlooking Lake Michigan in Grand Haven. This evening here in St. Ignace, Michigan, the day before this year’s Mayoral event gets underway, we had dinner at the Hillside House Restaurant overlooking the eastern tip of Lake Huron at the Straits of Mackinac and Mackinac Island itself. While Mackinac Island doesn’t show in any of these photos (we’ll visit the island tomorrow morning), it was right there a couple miles away along the horizon.

Hillside House Restaurant is an old home that was converted to its present business some time ago. There are remnants of a motel next to the property along the same level as the restaurant. I can imagine the motel may have been owned by some of the owners of the house, and may have been quite popular in its time 30 or 40 years ago.

Update, August 4 – In an email overnight, co-owner Judy Childs provided more information on the history of the house: “The house was built in 1950. It was purchased by the Belisle’s in 1952. At that point it was an office for the motel next door as well as the Belisle’s home. In 1963 the house was converted into a restaurant. It has faithfully been serving customers every year since then except one year, 2000. It was purchased by the present owners in 2001, Jeff and Judy Childs.”

The garage of the house has been converted into a commercial kitchen. The dining and living room areas have been opened up, and the old hardwood floors are intact around a central fireplace. Out front, a wide deck is across the front of the old living room. Thick, hardwood hexoganal picnic-style tables with umbrellas populate this deck for the gorgeous overlook.

Once we were seated and had our salads served, our server Janet was talking to us about how warm it was. It is quite sticky up here, which is fairly unusual for a location in Michigan above the 45th parallel. But after a while a good breeze came across the Straits and the humidity settled down.

I ordered the Whitefish dinner seen in the first photo. The filet was nicely season with few herbs and spiced, and had been beautifully broiled with skin intact on the underside. The zuchini and onions had been sautéed on the grill and had wonderful flavor and a good “bite” to them. The seasoned rice was an excellent side, as was the biscuit.

Mary had a serving of the Spaghetti Pie. This casserole-style dish was quite firm, had an excellent flavor and was cooked as spaghetti should be. So many places get this wrong, with spaghett so wet it falls apart or so dry you have to use a knife to cut through the crispiness. This was neither of those, and was very nicely done. The herbed garlic bread was a nice compliment to the flavor of the sauce as well.

Of course, we had to have a good Michigan dessert, particularly since it’s strawberry season.

Mary had a serving of the Strawberry Shortcake, something she really likes. I decided on a triple-berry pie, with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. This homemade pie, warmed, with it’s tender and flaky crust, all topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, really hit the spot after a long day of traveling.

Just call me Mr. Talbot. Right, Janet?

Kilgus Coarse Liverwurst, For the Health Of It

One of the most important aspects of dealing with the nosebleeds I’ve been having is rebuilding the blood supply. Losing three to four units of blood inside of a week seriously drains a person’s strength. As I didn’t quite qualify for a transfusion, getting more iron back into the bloodstream becomes imperative for any kind of a quick recovery.

Red meat is fine for this but to really get the job done, you’ve got to go with liver.

I’ve posted before about Kilgus Choice Meats in Toledo, where 3rd Generation Master Meat Packer Erich Schiehlen uses old-world processes and recipes to do some amazing things. I’ve also previously posted that my favorite sandwich is Braunschweiger, which is a smoked version of liverwurst, or pork liver sausage. My go-to brand has always been Koegel’s from Flint, Michigan, simply because that’s what I grew up on.

In the image above is what Erich Scheinlen calls Coarse Liverwurst. As I knew I was going to be needing some doses of good iron, and as Mary doesn’t do the classic Liver and Onions dish, the Coarse Liverwurst Erich makes easily does the trick for me. So, I asked her to go get me some. She came home with two pounds of it.

This is beautiful liverwurst, moist and meaty, savory with just the right amount of pepper for a minor afterburn. And, as the name suggests, it’s coarse. This liverwurst contains some big-ole chunks of good, rich pork liver. The flavor of this liverwurst is such that, after eating the two slices in the above photo, I simply had to cut and eat a third slice.

Good eating does promote good health. This kind of eating does tend to make one healthier, especially after certain medical problems.

Hmmm, feeling a bit weak again. I might need more of this stuff.

Scallops in Lobster Sauce at the Frog Leg Inn

A serving of Scallops in Lobster Sauce. Click the image for a larger version.

Scallops are grilled and arranged on a pillow of homemade spaetzle (german noodle) and finished with a creamy lobster sauce! Garnished with sliced pickled vegetables to give that hint of tartness the Germans are famous for. Chef John captures the finer side of Germany’s cuisine.

I don’t like lobster much at all … but this dish at the Frog Leg Inn was a bit on the exceptional side this evening. Are ya’ jealous? Good!

Recipe Re-Post: Mom’s Dill-Pickle-Sauced Meatloaf

Yesyterday would have been my parents’ 56th anniversary. Oddly enough, dad would have been 86 yesterday as well. See, dad told mom he was going to marry her by the time he turned 30 years old, and he beat it by a day. And people wonder why I wait till the last minute to get things done …

For either dad’s birthday yesterday or their anniversary today, it’s quite possible mom would have made this meatloaf for dad. Since dad passed in December and mom passed last week … well, I wonder if they’re eating this meatloaf in heaven, if they eat in heaven, that is. This meatloaf would certainly be appropriate.

In memory of them, I’m reposting this recipe.

Mom’s Dill-Pickle-Sauced Meatloaf is the kind of meatloaf that, by design, can never turn into hardtack. In fact, if you screw it up somehow it’s more likely to fall apart from too much good juices than not enough. Later on, after refrigeration, a sandwich made with this meatloaf that’s been chilled will still be so flippin’ tender you’ll never knock your dentures out of alignment. The flavor is beautifully sweet with the minor savory touch of the the dill pickle coming through in every wonderful bite.

You can use a fresh meatloaf mixture for this recipe. If you want to lean-it-up a bit, you could ask them for a combination of ground buffalo and ground turkey instead of beef and pork. There’s no need to add fats if you do this … the recipe is juicy enough as it is, and this will cook up just fine.

This is a fun meatloaf to make as it’s mixed lightly and there’s minimal chopping to do. It’s the kind of meatloaf you can make with kids, and as it tastes the way it does, they’ll actually eat it afterward. Until just over a year ago, I hadn’t had this in probably 15 years. When mom finally sent me the recipe after a couple years of my asking for it she said it’s been probably 10 years since she’s made it herself. That’s a real shame. In my house, this particular tradition will now return, and this meatloaf will become a staple once more.

Do right by your meatloaf, or your mother’s meatloaf. Make meatloaf for dinner. Learn to appreciate it all over again, especially when it’s good.

This meatloaf is simple, looks great, and has always been downright good.

Dill-Pickle-Sauced Meatloaf
Recipe courtesy Joyce Liske
Serves 6

1-1/2 lbs meatloaf mixture (50% ground beef/50% ground pork)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (about 1 fresh slice)
1/2 cup bottled dill pickle juice
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. For the loaf, lightly mix the meatloaf mixture with the chopped onion, bread crumbs, dill pickle juice, egg, and salt and pepper until well-blended. Shape into a loaf in a loaf pan, making sure to leave room around the sides of the loaf.

For the sauce, combine the chopped dill pickle, ketchup, water, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the sauce over the loaf.

Bake uncovered in the 350 degree F oven 40 minutes, basting with the sauce at the 20- and 40-minute marks. Continue baking another 35 minutes or until richly-glazed.