The Taste of Memories

The Taste of Memories Image

My soul recalls the warmth emanating from the oven, the savory scents filling the air, the steam rolling off the pots on the stove as they bubbled away. In my minds eye I can still see people sitting elbow to elbow at our dining room table, chatting merrily in Slovak with one another, sipping good wine between bites of food- oven-roasted tenderloin stuffed with fragrant garlic cloves, braised red cabbage kissed with the lightly sweet tang of cider vinegar and spiced with freshly ground caraway seed, and light, smoothly whipped red-skin potatoes with a touch of milk and creamy butter. I reminisce about the warmth of having dear, family friends over to our home when I was a young girl, and if there had already been several rounds of refilled wine glasses, then it would be especially amusing to me when the gentle debating, ribbing and storytelling would begin to increase in volume. Laughter would often punctuate the end of someone’s musings, and it wasn’t unheard of that someone would ‘clink-clink’ their glass with their knife, and all of the adults would break into an old, Slovak folk song. Ah, memories.

As a little girl, I would observe my mother thoughtfully and lovingly begin the preparation of her special meal. I would hop up onto one of the stools we had placed around the casual bar/eating area we had in our kitchen, and I would watch her pull the raw ingredients out from the tan shopping bags she had placed on our tiled floor: a couple of tenderloins wrapped in butchers paper (she used beef in place of pork), a small head of red cabbage, leaves tightly clinging to each other, a bag full of smooth, red-skinned potatoes, and some garlic. She would move about the kitchen with a joyful purpose, feeling fully enthusiastic about having a specific reason for preparing this meal: she was anticipating being able to serve her dear friends a dinner that came from her heart and that she knew would deeply satisfy them. She would usually begin her preparation the day before to minimize the work for the actual day her and my father would be entertaining; being a welcoming and cheerful hostess and not ‘hiding out’ in the kitchen was always equally as important as the meal itself. She would peel and cube the potatoes, put them into a pot, and cover them with water; she would trim the fat and silver skin from the tenderloins, and create little slits and stuff them with smashed garlic, season the meat and foil it, and finally she would shred the red cabbage, place it in a pot to hold, and then all these items would go into the fridge until the next day when she would actually do the cooking.

Usually friends would be invited to arrive in the late afternoon for dinner at our home; they’d arrive around 5pm, and my mother would have the meal mostly prepared. She would greet her friends with hugs and kisses at the door, usher them into our living room to catch-up a bit, and then go into the kitchen to finish everything up, throwing out comments every now and then to let people know she was still listening. She wanted everything to be perfectly fresh and hot, but not have guests starving all the while, waiting for her. When she would call out in Slovak “Ok, everybody ready? Let’s go eat!” everyone would come into the dining room and find their place at the table, looking forward to one of Eva’s heart-warming and delicious meals.

As I got a bit older, my mother naturally wanted to teach me some of the basics of cooking, and helping out in the kitchen. I was beside myself when in my early teens she assigned me the task of preparing the mashed potatoes. Wow! People would be eating my mashed potatoes? That was a big demonstration of trust on her part, and it was thrilling for me. Of course, she walked me through all the steps and double-checked my quantity of butter, milk and salt, but the potatoes were my contribution. They tasted good and I couldn’t have felt more a part of the experience.

I’ve given this recipe a twist by substituting pork tenderloin for the beef, keeping it slightly more traditionally eastern European, though they are interchangeable. This recipe is a tribute to my parents, their heritage and their beloved friends. It was a little part of the foundation that rest of my life would be built upon; one that taught me what laughter, love and servitude tastes like.

Taste what’s good, and pass it on.


Garlic-Stuffed Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Print This Recipe

Ingredients:  (serves about 4)

1.5 lb Pork Tenderloin
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
Salt/pepper to taste


-Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Prepare pork loin by trimming excess fat; with a small knife, create about 6, 1” deep small slits throughout the loin, and stuff with the 2 cloves of chopped garlic; rub the loin with the olive oil, the mustard, the paprika and salt/pepper to taste; place onto the foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for about 50 minutes, until tender but cooked through; when cooked, allow to rest for about 10 minutes, lightly covered with foil. Slice into 12 small slices, 3 per person.

Braised Red Cabbage with Cider Vinegar

Ingredients:  (serves about 4)

1 small head red cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly shredded
4 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground caraway seed
Salt/pepper to taste


-Prepare the quartered, cored and shredded cabbage by placing a large pot over medium heat; add the olive oil, and once hot, add the cabbage; next add the cider vinegar, the ground caraway seed and salt/pepper to taste; stir or toss with tongs; reduce heat to medium-low, and cover; allow to braise for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning; check the salt/pepper, and adjust if necessary, to taste.

Fluffy Mashed Red Skin Potatoes

Ingredients: (serves about 4)

8 large red skin potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons butter
¾ cup warm whole milk
tablespoon parsley, chopped


-Prepare the potatoes by placing the cubes into a medium pot and covering them with water; add about 2 tablespoons of salt to the water, and place the pot onto medium-high heat, uncovered; allow to come to the boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20-22 minutes, until fork tender; drain the potatoes, then add them back to the pot, and place over medium-high heat for a minute to dry them out; remove from heat, and add the butter, then the milk in increments, and mash with masher until creamy (a ricer or food mill can also be used, and then the butter/milk added once the potatoes are pureed); add salt to taste, and cover to keep warm. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

{ 20 comments… add one }

  • Heather Michelle A Sweet Simple Life January 27, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Love your site!! And this meal looks incredible! Can’t wait to try it.

  • Erica S. January 27, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Congratulations on the launch of your site! The video and recipes look great. What a wonderful way to express the talents you and your husband have been given! All the best,
    Erica at Apricosa

  • Anna @ hiddenponies January 27, 2012, 5:27 pm

    So excited to see your website up and running, it looks great! Looking forward to seeing more of your recipes and beautiful pictures here :)

  • Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen January 27, 2012, 6:32 pm

    Looks lovely and delicious! Love your new website :) xoxo

  • Obed Varela January 27, 2012, 7:01 pm

    I love this website, and of course the content…looking at that pork tenderloin made me want to eat the screen! Congratulations and bonne chance!

  • Anna January 27, 2012, 7:36 pm

    Hi Ingrid!
    Great website! Will stop by again soon :)
    Have a great weekend!

  • Lina January 28, 2012, 4:16 am

    Very thoughtful and reminiscent. I love your writing style, and those photos look delicious! I’ll be sure to visit your site often!

    • The Cozy Apron January 29, 2012, 12:53 am

      Lina, thanks so much for your comments- they truly mean a lot. Please do come on back to visit!

  • Lynda Rice January 29, 2012, 3:43 am

    Congrats to you two. The recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. The photo’s and watching you create the meal was really fun too!

  • Julie January 29, 2012, 11:28 pm

    Congrats on the new site, I will be checking back often, your recipes are amazing.

  • Beedy January 30, 2012, 7:02 pm

    Congrats to you and your husband for launching a wonderful website. You are a gifted writer and chef! I enjoyed the story and will try the recipe in the future. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and delicious recipes. The photography is simply amazing.

  • SamCyn January 31, 2012, 6:55 pm

    Your new site looks really great! The meal sounds de-lish! Thanks for sharing 😉

  • Katherine @ eEggton January 31, 2012, 9:12 pm

    I love the colors on this plate! So much tastiness going on.

  • Lindsey Ramage January 31, 2012, 10:21 pm

    Oh Ingrid, darling. What a lovely soul you are! I am just delighted that I have stumbled across your lovely website! I wonder why I cannot meet a friend as enchanting as you are in real life. Our friendship would be swell! What a delicious meal! Cheers to you, your husband, your talents, and most importantly… cheers to God! It’s so wonderful that you two are not letting your talents go to waste! I will keep a close eye on your site my dear. I look forward to the next post!

    • The Cozy Apron February 1, 2012, 2:19 pm

      Hi Lindsey, so glad you came by to visit the site, and am grateful for your kind words. Cheers to YOU as well, my friend- thanks for your support!

  • cousin February 14, 2012, 8:21 am

    My dear “Martha Stewart”, good idea, nice production. And very nice meal :) I wish You all the best. Have a nice Valentine’s Day. I am looking forward to the new recipes. And I hope that in couple of months you will stay in my new kitchen in Europe and will prepare nice meal for us.
    Your cousin Olga :)

  • Simply Tia February 16, 2012, 2:10 pm

    Your writing is so beautiful!! And so is that tenderloin. Just wow! (to everything in this post)

  • tkrakowski June 13, 2014, 9:19 am

    Your post brought up such wonderful childhood memories for me. I was raised on Polish/Slovak food, fine conversation, and also remember how the volume escalated with each glass of wine. My grandmother made a version of the cabbage with just about every meal. It’s a sign that one of our patients the other day was also Slovak, and we immediately started with the language (what little I do know…)! I am making this recipe for dinner tonight. Thank you for bringing up such wonderful memories for me.

    • The Cozy Apron June 13, 2014, 1:40 pm

      What a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for sharing that with me, and I truly hope that you enjoy this recipe! What a small world we live in…My best to you and yours; and here’s to building new, long-lasting memories! Thanks for stopping by.

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