Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pork Filets in an Autumn Royal Grape Shallot Sauce...bringing glamor to the end of a stretch of humdrum








I'm afraid I'm full of grumbles and gripes during the slow tick tock of the clock this week. Riley and I are feeling the continuing grind of schoolwork that is chaining us mercilessly to the kitchen table as of late.

Memories of our carefree road trip, rolling along the cozy little windy lanes of Cape Cod, trundling  up through the wilds of Maine's rugged harbor dotted coastline seem to have faded now and become surreal.

It is at times like this, when my kitchen table is my only daily vantage point, when I know why I am so compelled to use my camera to capture scenes, beautifully plated meals, softly blowing flower fields, moody sunsets, diverse people, and anything that can trigger for me again the incredible moments in time of luxurious freedom and discovery that seem so rarely enjoyed.






Basically, as can be guessed, homeschooling high school means reliving each and every one of those high school courses that some of us might generally prefer to forget.   We're all strong in some areas and weaker in others.  For me, those were any subjects math related.  Thank goodness I out-source that subject and also have a math wizard for a husband who can see straight through word problems, quadratic equations, and anything that deals with trains traveling at certain miles per hour.

Never did I expect to homeschool high school. These final years of junior and senior year have my wee brain cells stretching to the maximum capacity.  But, with a daughter now in college, and reporting back to me how much she values her homeschooling past, urging me to stay committed to it for her brother, I am resolved to see these next two years through.

It's not a glamorous life.  Period.  It is a kitchen table filled with books, french translation sheets, computers, globes, calculators, spark notes, PSAT workbooks, driver's ed workbooks, and all manner of cool pencils and pens that make the process of high school a touch more fun.



iphone shots


We have committed to this learning style for my son.  It is a full time job that takes a lot out of me each and every day.  There are good days when I think, in our own small way, we are changing the future course of the next generation.  And there are not so good days when I readily award myself the worst teacher in the world ribbon and go off to sulk in the corner as Patrick gives me a much needed pep talk.

But I am not the type to shirk on any kind of responsibility when it comes to my children. So we plod steadfastly ahead, one day at a time, one class at a time, one assignment at a time...deep into the world of poetry genres, origins of government types, hundreds of french verbs, and  subatomic origins of cellular theories.

But, when I lose sight of the purpose of my goal and the end seems murky and gloomy...I go into the kitchen...I can move into a world of my own imagined glamor.  I can clear the daily clutter of humdrum school life off the table.  

In my alternate world, I can create for us a meal that whisks my mind off to a cozy little dark wooden paneled pub in London with a plaid chair pushed up to a crackling fireplace, or a tucked away little bistro on Rue Cler in Paris with little square sugar cubes on the table, or a remote B&B on the gentle island of PEI where perhaps a little red fox might scamper across the lawn and go off into the distant woods.




iphone shots

Such is the  glamorous life that I paint in the life of my food blogging world.  When I feel like the school year's end is far off into the future and assignments are piled high and one research paper melds into yet another and another...there is always.. dinner.

Not every dinner is a glamorous one.  That is certainly for sure.  Weekends are filled with dreamy concoctions carefully planned, sliced, chopped and fretted over in the kitchen.  But weeknights are an entirely different story.  A leftover soup warmed up quickly...anything that can be thrown on top of a salad...and all manner of prepared eggs with toast are typical nightly fares.

But every now and then, I get an extra burst of energy after the last subject has been graded, discussed, completed, and checked off of the list...to slip into the kitchen and prepare a little feast for our week night dinner.

This Pork Tenderloin with Autumn Royal Grapes and Shallot Sauce dinner was just such an occasion this week.  All ingredients were on on hand.  Quickly sliced shallots are  thrown into a hot sizzling cast iron pan and infuse the house with weekend style aromas.  A pour of leftover white wine and a splash beef stock bring together a deliciously satisfying and quick weeknight meal.








I came home from the weekend market with a small container of quail eggs that gave an extra perk to our week night plates.  

It's good that the seasons are pushing for a change.  I am ready for a change, a break, a shakeup...a light at the end of the tunnel of homework assignments that need sorting, grading, filing, and organizing.  

A little weeknight feast.  Quickly prepared.  Wearily made but dreamily enjoyed.  We've made it up and over Wednesday.  The weekend is in sight.  I have recipes to linger over, markets to make my rounds through, and weekend living to savor before the kitchen table becomes the repository of all manner of unglamorous activity once again!











28 comments:

  1. A wonderfully autumnal dish! Lovely pictures. I love the one of the grapes.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I will be making this, for sure! Looks delicious!

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    1. Wonderful! Such a wonderful dish for weeknights or weekends that makes the house smell so good.

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  3. There's something about quail eggs that I adore. The fact that they're small and cute and the fact that they add a bit of glamour to a meal. I don't look forward to the first few weeks of returning from the trip we're currently on. At least I can say that we're still enjoying the small coastal villages and picturesque harbours. I can't wait to start posting about it, to share the beauty will everyone.

    I'll probably be eating lobster for dinner tonight, as you do in this part of the world, but I'd surely enjoy some pork filets!

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    1. I cannot wait until you begin posting about your trip too. Funny, you say that about lobster...by the end of our trip, Riley said to me, "No more seafood for awhile". Have fun visiting all of those lighthouses!

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  4. What a nice quick meal! I've never heard of Autumn Royal grapes. Are they black grapes? When does your semester end? Seems like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas will blow by in a blink. Then poof, the new year. Hope home schooling goes by equally as fast for you.

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    1. Yes, these seem to be in the stores right now. They are large very dark grapes. They seem to have a layer of dust on them but when I wash them, it is just the dusky look they have I guess. We're going to be taking a fall break for a long weekend...then a 3 week (much-needed) Xmas break! Those will really help to recharge!

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    2. Thanks so much for the description, I think I purchased a bunch last week that fits it. Oh, and I hope you have wonderful fall and Xmas breaks and see/enjoy many equally lovely sites or... just enjoy a "stay-cation"!

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  5. I was not home schooled, but even as an immigrant child with a very erudite father who spoke but little English on arrival in Australia, I had two 'high school's ~ the one during the week and the precious one during the weekend when he 'translated' what was required and taught me all the extras . . .shall we admit I did rather well! All the best to you and Riley! Your photos are breathlessly beautiful: especially the 'kitten quartet'! Than you!!

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    1. What a wonderful father. I remember living in Japan and having no idea how to begin translating the paperwork from school. One sentence would take so long!

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  7. I wish I could learn to love cooking. When we were first married, and I didn't work for a year or so, I was always pouring over recipe books and trying new recipes. These days I guess I try to make whatever is the easiest :(

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    1. I didn't cook for years when I was younger. When my kids were little, all of the meals were quite simple and repetitive. It has only been in the last 3 years that I decided I wanted to try so many things in the kitchen I thought I couldn't manage before.

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  8. What a delicious way of using pork filets, bookmarked for my brother :D

    Cheers
    CCU

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  9. Dear Sarah... you are such a dedicated, wonderful mum.... the years will pass by so very quickly and your beautiful children will be in their 20s and 30s, thanking you, no doubt, for all the effort you have put in now.

    Love it when you talk of your travels and share your world here with readers like myself from so far away. Your photographs are awe inspiring and your words just beautiful. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Lizzy. I hope you are feeling better!

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  10. I admire your approach and tenacity where your son's schooling is concerned. I have to admit I took quite a different approach to homeschooling Dario. The only time I sat down with him at a table was on Saturday morning when I set his work for the following week and reviewed what he had achieved during the past week. If there was anything he couldn't work out for himself from his text books or with help from the internet, then his father or I went through it with him. It wasn't always done to the standard I might have liked but somehow we bumbled through. By the way, we are in the last few weeks of his 5 years of tertiary study. Another milestone is almost reached. You'll make it to the end too and what wonderful feedback from your daughter.

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    1. Your approach with Dario is much like what we did with out daughter. She was self motivated and could tackle curriculums with overseeing and corrections by me or another teacher. My son...ha! He definitely needs more of a hands on approach. I've also found it easier to keep track of his subjects if I stay on top of them daily instead of creating so much work at the end of the week. Definitely depends on the mature nature of the child. My son will get there, but with lots of prodding and thorough homework checking! Congratulations to your son Dario. You all must be so proud because he has really accomplished an impressive amount! The last few weeks...so exciting!

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  11. I love your recipe! I have worked with a raisin reduction sauce for pork tenderloin but this sounds even better. Thank you. I can totally relate to gazing longingly at the kitchen while I sit with my kiddos at the school table. I am so impressed that you pulled off this elegant feast on a school night. I am humbled by your energy!

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    1. It is so nice to share these tidbits with another homeschooling mom! Suzanne (who left the comment above) homeschooled herson in New Zealand. It's wonderful to hear how everyone tackled their own homeschooling plan for their children.

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  12. Dear Sarah! I had such a chuckle when I read the but about trains travelling per hour. I too space out when it comes to Math and THANK GOODNESS for Mr. Hubby who works with my 6th grader on his math. I think I'll stick to the wordy assignments and projects :) What a marvelous weeknight meal. Brilliant to add grapes to the pork.

    Love it!

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

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    1. Isn't it fortunate to have 2 parents who have an assortment of skills. I do marvel at anyone with the math gene, but my husband can't spell to save his life and that just baffles me!

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  13. This sounds perfect; can't wait to try it! For more healthy recipes, visit my blog www.BetterOffHealthy.com.

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  14. I'm in a non-glamorous stage of life too, but with goats and other animals, not homeschooling. :-) One day my husband will take over his farming dream, but for now I'm keeping it going while I build a business here in Australia. It is hard and exhausting and frustrating sometimes, and so very DAILY, but, like you, I'm committed because it's worth it and valuable and I'm finding my joy and happiness in aspects of it. :-) I love your glimpses of beauty.

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    1. What a wonderful analogy Krista. I love that. I can definitely see the beauty in farming and taking care of so many daily tasks and then the flip side where you just want to change to something dramatically different. I, for one, sure do love seeing your adorable animals on the farm!

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  15. Sarah...I feel your quandary and admire you so much for all that you do. I can not imagine homeschooling, you are a remarkable woman and mother for putting the time and devotion towards your sons education. Do you watch the TV show 'Parenthood'? Your post reminded me of the scriptwriting for the show. I just discovered it and love it, so many things to relate too, that only a mother would know. You are a star Sarah! xx

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  16. Thank you Jeanne. I've been thinking of you as you grapple with the decision to choose boarding school. I can only imagine how difficult the decision was for your family. We came VERY close to sending Madeleine to a boarding school when she was a freshman. I, also, went to a boarding school so I share insights there. We all have to make such tough decisions, especially as in your situation being an expat. In Tokyo, there was a 1 year waiting list to get our kids into school there! I'm cheering you on!

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  17. My guilty pleasure? Going to food blogs and looking at the photography. Amazing pictures, not to mention amazing looking food.

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How wonderful to hear from new friends...