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I lived in Florida nearly half my life, which is saying a lot for a girl who has lived in five states, Puerto Rico, and Japan. Oranges have a special place in my heart – I love to eat and drink them, but I also love to cook and bake with them. So when I saw this recipe in Around My French Table, I couldn’t wait to make it. I didn’t even have to think about liking it, I just automatically knew I would. I was very happy when this recipe was nominated – and eventually voted in – for the February recipes.

And then I went and read the recipe fully.

Don’t get me wrong. For the most part, it’s a simple, straight-forward recipe. It has a short ingredients list, and it has but one exotic ingredient (cardamom), which Dorie has called for in a few other recipes, so I would think most Doristas would have that sitting around. It really is just a pork and orange dish. It’s what’s done with the oranges that threw me off a little. All my experiences with oranges, and I’ve never peeled and segmented one (or supremed one, if you want a technical term).

Now, my knife skills are not great. I am not bold when it comes to wielding a knife. I’m timid. I still fear lacerations. It’s not that I have a problem with blood; it’s the pain that’s always been my concern. And the trouble of having to clean up after a bad cut, plus the inconvenience it causes while it’s healing. Actually, that’s more bothersome to me than the pain. After all, who likes an inconvenience?

But. Maybe segmenting an orange is really something I need to know. I consider it a purely cosmetic thing, but I can see the purpose behind it. Pretty food is nice. It’s not my greatest concern, but it’s nice all the same. I figured I should give it a try.

Well. I have very few pictures for this recipe because – well, for many reasons. The biggest one, though, is that I made a ginormous mess trying to supreme my orange and I didn’t want that mess to spread to my camera. The juice was the problem. I had a very juicy orange. Actually, I used two oranges for half of this recipe, and they were both very juicy, which was good for the one that I juiced for the sauce. But as I was sectioning my orange and juice was just pouring down my fingers, I couldn’t help but think, what a waste of juice! Even using the lightest touch I could manage, the juice flowed.

Also, I have kittens. I have kittens who have not yet figured out that claws are not appropriate for playtime. Both of my hands have a number of small nicks and scratches from over-exuberant kitten-playing. I had no idea how many I had until I started trying to supreme that orange. More than I realized, it turns out. Fortunately, none of them were very fresh, because the kittens are coming to understand that I don’t appreciate being scratched so much. I’m hoping I won’t have this problem repeated the next time I decide I should segment something citrusy.

My orange sections came out ragged and very unpretty. I do not have a gentle touch when it comes to such things. I know, I know: practice, practice, practice. I’ll keep trying. But I really didn’t want to take any pictures of my pile of lumpy, misshapen oranges. But now that they were done, I could start cooking.

In went the pork tenderloin to be seared. My medallions were pretty small, so I kept a close eye on cooking times throughout. Had I followed Dorie’s times to the number, I’m pretty sure they would’ve gotten over-cooked (a problem which was noted on the French Friday blog, so at least I knew to be prepared). As it was, they were fine. After searing, in went the juice and thinly-sliced zest of an orange, along with the seeds from two cardamom pods. Lid went on the pan to simmer gently. I let mine go about seven minutes before I decided the pork should endure no more. My poor, deformed orange supremes went in, along with a dash of balsamic vinegar (not in the recipe, but I couldn’t resist). After the orange heated through, I removed the segments and the pork and let the sauce reduce a little.

And done. It was a quick meal, taking about 15 minutes to cook completely. It helped that we had a good amount of leftover potatoes from last week’s roasted chicken, so I didn’t have to make a side dish. The potatoes got popped into the microwave, and that was that. I spent more time prepping the oranges than I did cooking the entire meal.

Doesn’t matter. It was a good meal.

Fresh orange pork tenderloin, with herbed roasted potatoes.

Fresh orange pork tenderloin, with herbed roasted potatoes.

I liked this. Oranges seem to be associated with summer a lot (because of their color, I guess?) but they are a winter fruit. And I think this is appropriate, because they bring a little sunshine into winter days. They’re a fantastic, bright reminder of the fact that the sun has not completely abandoned us. It would take a lot to ruin a meal chock full of oranges – for me, anyway.

Geordie felt there was too much orange peel and not enough orange flesh. I can’t argue with that – it was a lot of orange zest. I didn’t mind that, because I like orange peel, especially after it’s been cooked down like that and made all soft and tender. The sauce was very flavorful – not too sweet, not too bitter – and it went along well with the pork. I know apples are a more traditional pairing with pork, but orange went just as well, and it made for a nice unexpected twist. I’d happily make and eat this again, and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for next winter.

This one was well-received by the Doristas – to see their much prettier dishes, check out the French Friday links. Happy cooking!

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A two for one deal today!

Day Two: “fruit”

Exceedingly ripe bananas hanging out in the fridge until I get the chance to make banana bread.

 

Day Three: “my neighborhood”

The neighborhood, as seen from our front yard. There's a house across the street and a house to our left, but those are the only neighbors within view of us. Another six or seven houses are further down the road.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a job opportunity that came my way. I decided not to take it.

I can’t say I was ever really enthusiastic about the job. It wasn’t something I was desperate to do; it was just something I thought would be nice for me to do. And I’d be doing someone a favor and getting paid for it. But I wasn’t excited about it. I worried about it a lot. I couldn’t decide if it was really such a good idea or not.

The week after I went to sit in on the class, I was told the school might not be hiring a long-term sub after all, that they were going to find subs in-house (meaning, pull free teachers for different days/time slots/whatever). Two things registered to me: 1. that was a bad idea and 2. I was kinda relieved that I wouldn’t have to accept the job. And that’s how I knew that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for me to take it if it was offered. I wasn’t disappointed; I was glad I wouldn’t have to be the one to say no. And ultimately, I wanted to say no. The more I thought about it, the less I wanted to take the job. Which tells me that I didn’t really want to take it if I was already looking for a way to get out of it.

There are some things that I’m just not ready to do. Take on a full-time teaching position in which I’ll be surrounded by people is clearly not something I’m ready for.  I was already shedding tears over it and having mini anxiety attacks about being in that classroom.  That’s not something I want to put myself through on a daily basis, even for a limited time.

It’s just too much for me to handle at once. I’d like to go back to work in the future, but teaching can be a high-stress job, and my life is stressed enough as it is. I’m not ready to face a lot of people or have that much responsibility.  Substitute teaching is a big step, one that seems to be too big for me at the moment. I still have so many days when I don’t feel like leaving the house or I don’t feel like talking to people, days when I’m not capable of pulling myself together and forcing myself to do it. So, I’m not going to put myself through that. I’m not going to go out of my way to make my life more miserable than it already is.

Having made that decision, I feel a little bit better this weekend. Not great, not by a long shot. But I feel less stressed and less vulnerable. And that too, I think, is a step in the right direction.

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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