You may have noticed that there isn’t a category on this blog titled “Food & Recipes“. It’s no secret that I am not known for my culinary skills. Best I can recall, the only post I’ve ever done on my cooking capabilities was about my flyfishing cupcakes. And technically I didn’t cook them, I just decorated.
So I was really stumped on what to prepare for my meal on the Montana Girls Trip. I searched high and low for a 100% foolproof menu that would serve a large crowd and that I couldn’t possibly screw up. What could I handle making from scratch and what could I simply purchase ready-made? What to cook and what not to cook…that is the question.
Luckily I stumbled on this terrific (and EASY!) recipe for Mexican Pork Tenderloin. I made this delicious, spicy dry rub ahead of time in Austin and carried it on the plane, double-bagged in Ziplocs.
1 tablespoon paprika
1.5 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons sugar
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
The colors are gorgeous!
I defied the instructions to use only 2 TB on the whole pork tenderloin and instead slathered as much of the dry rub as possible all over the entire tenderloin.
I stuck the tenderloin in the oven at 425 and cooked for about 20-30 minutes. I probably used a bit too much of the rub, as the pork had quite a kick to it. But this crowd was extra spicy so I think it fit. We served up the pork with black bean & corn salsa, guacamole, green salad, Spanish rice, and tamales that I ordered ahead from Tamale.com.
Whew. Either I tricked the ladies into believing I can cook, or they tricked me into thinking they liked the meal. Either way is fine by me.
But enough about my kitchen prowess, there were real cooks in this crowd. When we awakened on the first morning, Robin treated us to beautiful fruit-filled breakfast crepes which pretty much set the bar for the trip.
And boy, did Anna meet that bar when she created this fabulous watermelon salsa! Watermelon, cilantro and as much fresh-squeezed lime juice as the law allows. Eugenia taught us all a new trick: microwave the limes just a tad and you can squeeze more juice out of them.
Anna also wowed with this gorgeous artichoke appetizer with curry dipping sauce.
Amy scoured the deep freeze and altered her super special spaghetti recipe to incorporate the venison she found. The other tip we learned as Amy slaved away over the homemade spaghetti sauce? Place a wet paper towel in your mouth while chopping onions to avoid the tears. That is a new one!
Team Spaghetti also receives the Serving With Soul award. Some slick dance moves accompany each helping of noodles.
As you may gather, there were lots of cooking tips flying about as we laughed in the kitchen and helped each other serve up meals. I waited patiently for someone to explain “Apples, Oranges, Griiiiiind the Coffee” but we never had a formal lesson on that one. Apparently they all knew what it meant because a few girls would chant it in unison out of the blue. My own inferiority in the cooking department, I didn’t dare ask, leaning on my keen observational skills to draw out the meaning from this elusive cooking technique.
Alas, it wasn’t until after our chilly float on the Big Hole that I discovered the true meaning of “Apples, Oranges, Griiiiiind the Coffee.” As we warmed our frozen bone marrow with an impromptu dance-off I learned that it was in fact not a cooking technique, but a pretty slick dance move. Apples. Oranges. Griiiiiind the Coffee.
Every party needs a signature cocktail and ours was the Moscow Mule, courtesy of Laura and Ginna who took orders regularly and kept them flowing each evening. Super light & refreshing, a Moscow Mule is vodka, ginger beer, lots of lime and crushed ice. I’m not sure why, but it’s near critical to serve this drink in a copper cup:
Lest you think we stayed in the kitchen the entire trip, never fear. We cut our apron strings and stepped out for some good food on the go. One night we ventured to Virginia City for dinner at Bandito’s.
You may recall my small world story with Scott, owner of Bandito’s. He welcomed us with open arms and we ate and ate and ate delicious fare. If you find yourself near Virginia City, go to Bandito’s and order the Carne Asada. (For those of you Texans who are shaking their heads at me right now, don’t worry. Scott and his wife are from Texas. It’s cool. It’s legit.)
And finally, toward the end of the trip we enjoyed a very special meal at Healing Waters Lodge in Twin Bridges.
Janet Lilly blew us away with gourmet treats including a lovely pasta appetizer, shrimp and rice curry, and an incredible key lime tart. I’d like to say a special thank you to the three guys from New York who were staying at the lodge and allowed us to bust-in on them for our fun-filled celebration dinner.
For those of you who believe chivalry only exists in Dixie, I am here to attest that I saw – with my own eyes – one of these gentlemen graciously pull out Eugenia’s chair as we were seated for dinner. All three were very charming dinner partners, and they were also kind enough to join us, albeit begrudgingly, on the “dance floor” when we had yet another impromptu dance-off.
Because when you’re faced with the decision To Dance or Not To Dance….really, there should be no question.