Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentJune 6, 2014 


Position tomatoes stem-side up to help avoid bruising the “shoulders,” or area around the stem.


Best pork marinade

I’ve never quite mastered the art of preparing pork tenderloin. Pink pork scares me, so I tend to overcook it. My family knows this, so they shuddered recently when I set a beautifully seared tenderloin on the tabletop for dinner. To everyone’s surprise, it was moist, tender and full of flavor. I credit the geniuses at for the marinade recipe and a grilling tip at Fine Cooking for the fab results. Try it and let me know what you think.

You will need:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tablespoons Dijon honey mustard (I mixed 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon honey. I may add a little more next time.)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 (2-pound) boneless pork loin roast or pork tenderloin

Whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Place the pork loin in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking.

Heat a gas grill, turning all the burners to high until the grill is fully heated, 10 to 15 minutes. Put the pork on the hot grill grate. Close the lid and grill for 7 minutes.

Turn the pork over, close the lid and grill for another 6 minutes.

Turn off the heat (keep the lid closed) and continue to cook the pork for another 5 minutes. At this point, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest end of the tenderloin should read 145 degrees to 150 degrees. (If not, close the lid and let the pork continue to roast in the residual grill heat.)

Remove the pork from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

Cut across the grain into 1/2-inch slices and serve immediately, with the sauce of your choice. Check out the original recipe and easy oven directions at

Best for tomatoes

Tomatoes will soon be spilling forth from garden patios, farmers markets and more. Make those delicious orbs last longer with this tip from Eric Stone, produce merchant at Fresh Direct. “Position them on your counter (or windowsill) stem-side up,” he says. This will help avoid bruising the “shoulders,” or area around the stem. If a tomato’s stem has already come off, store it stem-side down to prevent air from entering and moisture from exiting the place where the stem used to be.

Best teacher gift

End-of-the-year teacher gifts always create a challenge for me. Most teachers I know appreciate handwritten notes or gift cards to their favorite restaurants or stores. But sometimes, if I’ve gotten to know a teacher really well, I like to add a personal touch.

For example, if you know your child’s teacher will be spending some time at the beach, why not put together a special care package? You could gather a large beach towel, sunscreen and some magazines (better yet, ask about a favorite book he or she has been wanting to read), tie it together with ribbon and send a personalized note. You can see an example at

Reader’s best

Melba McGee of Raleigh shared a tip for removing stubborn food residue from stainless steel and glass pots. Cooked hamburger or beans may leave residue in the bottom of a pan even after it has gone through the dishwasher. “Pour a little white vinegar in the bottom of the pot/pan to cover the residue and let sit for about 30 minutes. Pour vinegar out and the residue should be gone. Tougher spots will need to sit longer.”

Designer’s best

Real Simple shares this timeless tip for decorating your mantel.

“A well-dressed mantel makes an impact from a distance. You shouldn’t have to walk up to it to view the objects on it. Opt for large, tall vessels to complement the height of the chimney, but make sure they don’t impede the view of a painting or a mirror. Pick curvy vases to soften a hard-edged mantel and squarish ones to contrast a fireplace with a rounded opening.”

Seeking our readers’ best

If you have a favorite cleaning, gardening or organizing tip, or a simple, favorite recipe, we want to hear about it. Send them to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” or “best recipe” in the subject line. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card.

Best of the tube


Pool Me Once: Homeowners John and Melissa are drowning in damages from two failed attempts to fix their pool, a process that emptied their wallets and left them unable to update their drab and cramped kitchen. Over the past four years, their pool has become overrun with algae and their kitchen has been neglected. John DeSilvia renovates the pool and delivers a beautiful open-concept kitchen, pulling John and Melissa out of the deep end. “Rescue My Renovation” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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