The Night Drive Home
Made some pork with apples and sweet potatoes on Saturday, and it was not bad. We ate early as we’d been invited to an autumn celebration, a gathering of friends and friends of friends, and there was a bonfire and lots of fall food (pumpkin bars, mmm, and brats) and a bouncy house for kids and a trampoline and a little pink kiddie pool on a table, full up with ice and bottles of all kinds of beer. I had one (only one, mind you) and it was actually a cinnamon-flavored cider beer and I squatted by the fire awhile drinking that wonderful cider, people all ‘round me talking and laughing and Mr. S conversing with a friend of his named George, leaning against an old upright piano that looked as if it might just give up its ghost right there. When I read the invite and it said, “burning piano” I thought it meant we’d sing and dance like Jerry Lee Lewis, but was I wrong. The plan was to set it afire later in the evening and watch it burn and what a sight it was. Didn’t take long at all and that piano seemed to rise on up through the smoke and flame into the starry sky.
It was a bit sad, I must say. Listened for the last song that piano played, thinking that might be what one hears when a piano burns. But I didn’t hear it. Only the voices of all those people enjoying each other. One of my favorite things, gatherings are, and another is what happens after. The night drive home.
Ever since I can recall, I have loved car rides at night. And I still do. The glowing lights on the dash, the cozy tucked-in feeling, windows open for the breeze, music on low. Mr. S at the wheel, his shining blue eyes intent on the road, his hand in mine unless he’s making a turn. The occasional flash of animal eyes, the falling leaves, the last of the sun’s light playing over the trees. Our conversation about whom we met, what we talked about, isn’t she wonderfully funny, isn’t he the smartest man, how delicious were those pumpkin bars, all that cream cheese frosting, and that fine taco dip, and let’s make a point to pick up some of that cinnamon cider for our next bonfire. How we are tired, what lies ahead tomorrow, the kids will be home for Fall Break, we really should talk about Thanksgiving.
All of that and more, and then we are quiet a bit, and then there is home, and our garage, which needs a good sweep but not til the weekend. The dog barks and an owl hoots, somewhere deep in the woods. Nothing more today but a hot bath, and bed, and the moonlight through the window, and echoes of the evening in our heads as we fall into a sleep filled with golden fields and geese flying over and the soft scent of dry leaves on the wind.
Here’s one for fall, for an evening when there’s nowhere to go and rain on its way. You might consider pumpkin muffins, or corn casserole on the side.
Pork Pan Dinner with Sweet Potatoes and Apples
½ cup butter, melted
1 T thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 medium sweet potatoes, quartered lengthwise
2 medium Gala apples, cored and quartered
1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb pork tenderloin
½ cup real maple syrup
1 T lemon juice
¼ cup chopped pecans, roasted
Line large, rimmed sheet pan with foil; spray with cooking spray or rub with oil.
In large bowl, mix melted butter, sage, salt and pepper. Add sweet potatoes, apples and onion and toss to coat. With a slotted spoon, transfer to pan in single layer. Add pork to bowl with mixture, and toss to coat. Add to pan with vegetables. Roast 23 to 27 minutes at 425 or until pork is no longer pink (145°F) and potatoes tender.
Heat maple syrup just to boiling over medium heat. Turn heat to low and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and set aside.
Slice pork, and divide among 4 plates. Divide potato mixture on top of pork; drizzle with maple syrup and top with pecans.
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