After a day and a half of doing nothing but writing, that social, hospitable feeling came over me – the urge that I sometimes get when I’ve spent too much time alone.

I knew the remedy was to invite a friend over for supper that very evening, but I didn’t feel like going to the grocery store, especially since a round trip from the cove to the nearest supermarket is nearly 20 miles. It seems I had the energy for going grocery shopping, or I had energy to cook a meal and entertain company, but not both.

I needed the companionship of a good friend and I desperately needed chocolate. I searched through my provisions in the kitchen, hoping I would find ingredients for supper and dessert.

In short order, I came across the right combination to put together a delicious, simple meal. In my larder, I found a pork tenderloin, an onion, an apple, an orange, a butternut squash, and some chocolate and confectioners’ sugar. I had fresh herbs in my little garden and I even had a shot of Triple Sec and a bottle of rosé.

All systems go.

When I called to extend the evening invitation to my friend, she offered to bring the salad. Perfect. I made a fudgy flourless cake with just a hint of orange, went back to my writing, and looked forward to what turned out to be a most delightful evening.

Here’s to spontaneity and creating a meal from what’s in the cupboard.

Pork Tenderloin with Squash

Pork tenderloin (1 to 1 1/4 lb.)

3 tbsps. olive oil

2 tsps. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

1 tsp. fresh sage leaves, chopped

1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1 (2-lb.) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

1 large apple, unpeeled, cut into 12 wedges

Roasted squash seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a 15x10x1-inch pan with foil. In small bowl, mix herbs with salt and pepper. Place pork tenderloin in pan. Rub 1 tablespoon oil onto the meat and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons herb mixture.

In large bowl, combine squash, onion, remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining herb mixture until well-coated. Place squash around pork.

Bake 20 minutes. Add apple slices; bake 8 to 10 minutes longer or until pork is slightly pink in the center (145°F) and squash and apples are tender. Let pork stand 5 minutes before slicing. Yield: 4 servings.

Chocolate-Orange Cake

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 tbsps. cornstarch

3 tbsps. unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsps. freshly-squeezed orange juice

1 tbsp. orange-flavored liqueur

1 tbsp. hot water

Dash of salt

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch springform pan; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Wrap outside of pan with heavy-duty foil.

Place sugar and eggs in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed for 7 minutes.

Combine cornstarch and cocoa in a small bowl; set aside. Place juice, liqueur, water, salt, and chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave at high 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture; whisk until smooth.

Gently stir one-fourth of egg mixture into chocolate mixture; then fold into remaining egg mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan then place pan into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Add hot water to larger pan to a depth of 1 inch.

Bake for 20 minutes or until top is set. Remove springform pan from water; cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Loosen cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 4 hours. Garnish with powdered sugar and orange slices. Yield: 6 servings.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected].

Before you make yet another trip to the grocery store, check out those cupboards and the fridge. You may already have the ingredients for a wonderful meal like Pork Tenderloin with Squash.


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