Easing on into Easter or It Snowed on my Lilac Buds

Pork Tenderloin, Couscous and Sauteed Vegetables with Balsamic Fig Sauce

 Wherever I’ve lived, with the exception of San Antonio, there has been freak weather like snow on Halloween and Easter.  (Is it really freak?)  My own memories of Easter just south of Chicago are not necessarily warm and beautiful, but neither are they freezing with snow.  Perhaps I misremember.  But my kids’ Easter (and Halloween) photos show a yearly progression from clown to Easter lily all in a background of white.

This year may prove no different.

Here’s this morning’s view.

Doesn’t look like it’ll stay for long.  Below:  lilac trees ( no bushes in my yard) in frozen bud

 Below:   What they should (and will again) look like.

Coming up on Palm Sunday, this Sunday, I always know that while it’s just a week until Easter, it’s also forever.  This might come from my years as a director of church music.  For two reasons:  1.  The time spent preparing the music for 4-6 services within one week is a learning experience.  Sometimes it includes a Lenten cantata.  It always includes a humdinger of an Easter anthem.  If ever you’re going to pull out all the stops (and that’s literally here), this is the time.  2.  You’re right there, living it all.  The lyrics to from Palm or Passion Sunday through Easter are not just powerful, they are both life-giving and life-changing.

I will send the Holy Spirit to you….  He’ll remind you all the things that I’ve said and—–I will always be with you.

Each pastor I worked with had different favorite Holy Week texts, so every year I’d read them and every year I knew them better (that’s not to say well). And while I knew the differences between the gospels (ok, this year the text has one angel; we can’t do THAT song where there are TWO), I’m not sure I understood them any better for it.  I did, though, become more thoughtful about how and why it all happened.  I had more time than most to consider what the disciples did all day on Friday or what the weight of that stone might be.  Your mind runs around as a sacred musician.   You’re the dreamer.  I knew that my faithful folks had one combined vision/story of the week.  Some couldn’t handle it and opted out of Thursday or Friday night services.  They liked going from the palms to the lilies.  That broke my heart.  Because without the hopeful meal teaching a new commandment on Thursday, the frightful heart-breaking cold of Friday, and the long looking of Saturday, we have no flowery bonnets, alleluia music, egg hunt or brunch.  We have no life, no plan, no nothing, nada, zip, zero, zap.


What?  No chocolate?**

Pork Tenderloin with Couscous, Sauteed Vegetables and Balsamic Fig Sauce 
  Serves 6 (divide or multiply)
2 boxes couscous (olive oil and garlic variety)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup raisins

3 pork tenderloins
3 cloves of garlic, slivered
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6T olive oil, divided

2 medium eggplant
2 each:  sweet yellow and red pepper
2 large red onions, cut into 1/8s
12 oz button mushrooms
2 each:  zucchini and yellow squash
6T fig jam (often in the cheese section of a good grocery)
4T balsamic vinegar (or more to taste–be careful)
3T white wine (can use lemon juice instead)
  1. Make couscous basically according to package directions, but first saute the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the raisins, the water…etc.  Cover to keep warm after done. Set aside.   Later, fluff with a fork and grind a little pepper over the top for garnish.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. Heat a large grill pan, roasting pan or the bbq grill* to medium high.   Meantime,   brush the meat with oil and make 10-12 slits (fairly evenly) on each of the three pork tenderloins.  Insert a sliver of garlic into each slit.  Salt and pepper well.
  4. Grill the pork for 4-5 minutes over high heat.  Turn; repeat. Remove from stove and place pan in oven.  (You can take meat from grill pan and put it in a large casserole even.)  Let meat cook until instant meat thermometer reads 150 for medium-rare, 155 for medium and 160 for done.  Remove from oven and cover lightly with foil  Let rest 5-10 minutes.
  5. Meantime (or ahead), in a large skillet (or two large skillets), saute vegetables in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Season well with salt and pepper, but don’t add other herbs here unless you just have to.  (The can fight with the fig sauce.)  If your vegetables are done before the meat, you can re-heat briefly in the pan(s).
  6. Alternately, you can roast these vegetables in the oven on a half-sheet pan ahead of time and reheat them while the meat rests. 
  7. Make fig sauce:  In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Drizzle over meat at serving time. 
  8. * If you decide to grill, brown the meat well and then lower the heat and cover until done.   
What else?
A small salad?  Some cheese?  Someone brings rolls or bread? Definitely deviled eggs!  If no one will make a bunny cake, buy a great cheesecake and call it Easter.  Keep it festive and thoughtful.  Some Easter grass and a few eggs on the table are quick decorations.  You might also want to make my carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and jellie bellies.

The link there is for my article on examiner.com, which doesn’t give my recipe for carrot cake, but provides for other options.  My own cake and frosting is right here on the blog, of course.

Wine?  I like a Syrah here.  Go California; the prices on California Syrahs are great right now.  Qupe is luscious and inexpensive.  If you want to spend a bit more, get the phone now and quickly order some Cristom Syrah (only the ’07 is left) and tell them to quick-ship, if possible.  The Cristom will be less fruity, spicier and will assuredly have more pepper.
I’ll be thinking of you this week, as we all make this trip without skipping one piece of scenery and then sing a new song,
**Chocolate bunny pic: courtesy Twice Pix
And this year, in some ways, is no different.  I don’t have a choir to prepare (and I miss every one always), I have myself.  This year, again, I’m reading THE LAST WEEK by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan.  I’ll be in worship tomorrow thinking about how Jesus appeared to the woman on the street.  Sitting on a donkey.  Or why people still stripped off their clothes and threw them down in front of him.  And then I’ll begin the long walk of Holy week.

Oh, dear:  did you come here for a recipe?  This one’s sooo simple; I promise.  It’s great for two, but is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled or whatever.  Get someone else to bring the deviled eggs and the bunny cake.  You’ve got Easter dinner covered.

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