Roasted Pork Encrusted with Green & Long Black Peppercorn

The other day I found a ridiculously large cut of pork loin at an equally low price, so I bought it and left it in the fridge until I was ready to do something creative with it.  Creativity did not strike before it was the last thing around to make for supper, but as I was seasoning it something came to mind: long black peppercorns.

green and long black peppercorns

I’d bought some of these a long time ago at Whole Paycheque Foods, but it has been months or more since I remembered to make use of them.  (The last time was in a ham based stew, yum!)  They taste very different from black pepper in my opinion, and I think it can be distracting in some dishes, which is probably why I forgot to try using it again for so long.  Pork is one of my least favourite meats, however, so I didn’t mind the idea of a strong and possibly distracting flavour.  I hadn’t given myself enough time to marinate the loin as I normally do, so I’d planned on making a herb or spice crust.

First I lined my pan with foil and doused the pork with white wine before giving it a generous coating of garlic salt.  I sprinkled it with hot paprika, MSG, whole mustard, and coriander seeds before thinking of the long peppercorns.  It turned out that I didn’t have much in the way of herbs, and the pepper occurred to me, so I ground the long and green peppercorns in a mortar and pestle then rubbed them into the pork.  It went into the oven at 350F for… an hour or two?  I uncovered the meat towards the end to let the fat at the top get crispy.  For a side I made a salad with whatever I had, which was rocket, tomato, dill, red pepper, and scallions dressed with salt, lemon, and olive oil.

It was tasty!


Planning the 2016 Goth Garden


Last season I had some success with the dark themed garden that I envisioned, but there was plenty of room for improvement.  Naturally I’d like to add to the number of things grown this year.  Also, I’ll be trying to keep in mind the timing of blooms, spacing and grouping of plants, and what I learnt about my green thumb last year.  I seem to do better with flowers than vegetables, so I’m mostly eliminating edible plants.  Perhaps I’ll keep the pretty dark purple tomatoes and black aubergines, and I’ll always have herbs, but the focus this year is on the purely pretty things.

I’m not even sure what to do with the old, huge garden bed in the corner of the yard except to let it lie fallow.  The two cedar squares near the house may become permanent flower beds.  Hmmm.  What I do know is that I already have or will hopefully be placing orders for some of these in the coming weeks:

Black cat petunias, Odessa callas, ghost athyrium, more mother of pearl poppies (which I also saved hundreds of seeds from,) black swan poppiesburgundy beauties cornflower mix, sophistica blackberry hybrid petunias, maybe more eyeliner lilies, black boy bachelor’s button, more delft blue nigella, giant red castor, yellow creeper canary nasturtium, blackout heucheria, obsidian heucheria, chocolate chip ajuga, star of billion astrantia, french kiss hellebore, and landini lily.


From last year:



There were things that I wanted to order but missed out on.  For example my beloved Alaska red shades nasturtiums were automatically eliminated from my cart having gone out of stock before I could order.  😦  A stunning, two tone deep red and black-red Olina lily that I considered was also already gone as was Big Blue sea holly.  Another out of stock beauty was Dark and Handsome hellebore.  There are also some that I found to be pretty but will not add.  The blue colour of the loddon royalist anchusa wasn’t as dark in other Googled images as on the ordering site, sadly, and the stems didn’t appear black as they said either, so I’ll pass.  The Helen Elizabeth poppy is so pretty, but it would mess up my scheme to have pink, wouldn’t it?  (Sooo pretty though… hmmm, maybe it could work out front where I am not doing the gothic thing?)  This columbine was tempting also.  If I was made of money I’d have liked Leonora widow’s tears and windflower too.

Today was my day off, and it was warm and sunny.  I did some yard work and found a surprising amount of blooming things for February in New York!

I never finished raking leaves this past fall, so I began again today and uncovered many shoots.  The house came with crocuses and snowdrops, which was a nice surprise.  They are joined in their early growth by the tulips that I planted last fall.

One of the tulips and a hellebore bud!

The hellebore is supposed to be blackish, but I’m not so sure…

I really hope that the weather remains mild and doesn’t harm the lovely display that I’m looking forward to!

Oh jeez, I found a few more:

Black magic elephant ear, black night hen and chicks, and black parrot tulip.


Looking Back at my 2015 Goth Garden

I’d hoped to write and update from week to week during the growing season, but since I did not…  Prepare for many photos.  I’ve decided to make this post more of an overview, and then I’ll add another to review some of the types of plants that I grew and plans for next season.

So, here are some of the more spectacular specimens, beginning with “ismene.”  Also known as Peruvian daffodil, ismene is indeed spectacular.  They were an unplanned purchase at Home Depot, and I am very glad I did get a few of the bulbs.  They grew easily in the bulb tubs although only a couple produced blooms.  This year I would like to buy more, and I hope the other bulbs will flower too.

ismene 2

Next up is a “mother of pearl” poppy.  These were absolutely amazing.  Each one was unique, some papery white, others flecked with blush red, and a few were the most beautiful combination I’ve seen, like this.:


Selecting a shot for an example wasn’t easy.  Here was 2nd place:


More examples:


And some more, because I simply couldn’t leave them out:

A hard act to follow, but a few of another poppy variety grew too.  “Black swan.”:


I adore the poppies, but they are very delicate.  Each time I watched with anticipation as a strange bud would rise up and open to reveal the surprising hues, or lack of them, crinkled inside of it for so long.  Then, if I was lucky, I could admire the bloom for a day.  Too often rain would cut even that time short…  Or my husband would accidentally decapitate the prized flower with his quad-copter escapades.  😦  In any case, the beauty of poppies is meant to be appreciated mindful of their ephemeral existence.

The “black cat” petunia plants were one of my favourites too.  I tried to keep them alive inside for the winter, but alas no.  I’ll be ordering many more for sure!!  They did grow wonderfully all summer and spilled over the baskets and pots with numerous black, velvety blossoms.  I can’t wait for more.




And next?  The “eyeliner” lilies.  These were lovely and grew very well.



This year I hope to order some very dark red calla lilies, because I really enjoyed these, which I found at Home Depot and don’t recall the name for, and how long they remain in bloom.  IMG_0022

Rather late in the spring I picked up some black hollyhocks.  They are another winner to be purchased again.

I was very pleased with the “black Charm” lilies from Home Depot.  I’ll likely buy more at some point.  They were generally a deeper red than these photos show.


Along the way, I picked up other plants that fit with my goth scheme.  The lily bulbs are to bloom this year.  A few of the others aren’t said to overwinter in NY, but I believe they are going to since they appear nearly alive and happy even in February thanks to global warming.  I apologise for not recalling the names except that one is sweet potato vine (which I do expect to replace) and “black diamond” crepe myrtle.  It was on clearance in October, and I read online not to plant those late, but thankfully it was ridiculously warm until New Year anyway.

Next up are some shots of one of the lovely day lilies my aunt and uncle brought us on July 4th.  This one is called “noble lord.”

Lastly I have “delft blue” love in a mist.


Here are some shots that show a more comprehensive view:

Also, I don’t know what this plant is, but it was here and fits in nicely too:



Romanian Lamb Pastramă & Carrot Top Pesto

This is a post that I have wanted to write for a long time.  Long story short, pastramă is a delicious, delicious grilled main course that ought to be more well known (in my opinion.)  Pretty much everyone has had or at least heard of pastrami, and the two share history, but unless you are in a Romanian restaurant you aren’t going to find grilled pastramă.

Lamb Pastrama and Carrot Top Pesto

To make pastramă you must plan a few days ahead, but it is quite easy and fairly quick to actually cook.  Just make a brine/marinade of dry white wine, salt, crushed cloves of garlic, coriander seed, and freshly chopped oregano or thyme.  Then let the lamb soak in it for a few days before grilling.

The other night I grilled pastramă and tried something new for a side dish.  Our supermarket had some gorgeous purple carrots on offer, and I’d grabbed a few bunches.  They came with the tops on, and I vaguely remembered reading a recipe to make use of the greenery.  It took some digging to find the link, and then I was missing an ingredient too.  Rather than sunflower seeds I improvised with tahini.  As usual I did not measure and kind of ignored the ratios given.  For my pesto it was: the most decent looking carrot tops, a few cloves of garlic, two spoonfuls of tahini, the juice from one lemon, a bit of olive oil, and salt.  The carrots were cut up, tossed in olive oil, given a sprinkling of salt, and convection roasted at, ummm… 400 for… a while until done.  More or less.

They turned out to be pretty tasty with the pesto.  🙂

ingredients for pesto