Thursday, June 3, 2010

cleaning house

i wish i had known
when i wrote about sardine sandwiches
that it would be my last post for quite a while.
i don't think i could have tried harder to post -
if you saw my blog drafts,
(there are many)
all started,
never finished and soon to be deleted,
you would believe me.
but maybe, i would have told you
about something else.
i mean, really. who goes out with a post
about canned sardines?

the thing is, i didn't anticipate what
packing, and emotionally dealing with moving,
would do to the rest of my life.
in short, it crimped me.
in long, it forced me to live amongst boxes,
with the guilt of
not packing enough,
not packing quick enough,
not packing smart enough.
it left my feelings alternating between
just wanting to walk into a room without kicking
a box, or without losing the room assigning marker, or
worry about how to cryptically label my grandmother's crystal,
lest the movers decided to steal it,
thank you very much,
feeling incredible sadness when i realized again and again
that i was leaving our apartment.

so while larry
packed parts of the liquor cabinet,
dealt with the spices and dismantled the things that
made our everyday lives our everyday lives,
i cooked.
because i can deal with cooking.
and unlike packing, or emotional distress,
i am good at cooking.

i even took pictures for a little while there -
thank goodness, because they give me something
to blog about now that all the dust has settled,
we're on the other side and i've decided that
unpacking is a significantly better proposition -
but blogging? it just wasn't happening.

here, a few highlights:

i made homemade nutella for my friends, tricia and lauren, two people who deserve more than a little dinky jar of chocolate-hazelnut spread and a tiny mention. they were always good friends, but i have to tell you that after helping us move out of the apartment, one hour later lauren jump-started the kitchen unpacking in the new house, then stayed for six more hours in an attempt to get it in order while tricia talked me off the ledge on the first night home of my very trying commute.
toasted and skinned hazelnuts
homemade nutella
nutella and strawberry crepes

three times i tried to tell you about the black garlic and preserved lemon hummus i made using leftover cooked garbanzos. three times! but for some reason, it wasn't meant to be. i'll give you a little bit now: this hummus uses one of my new favorite things (black garlic), it's nice and briny (thanks to the preserved lemon) and it tasted really lovely drizzled with a bit of walnut oil.
from a distance
black garlic cloves
black garlic and preserved lemon hummus

probably, most people, when strapped for time, don't want to deal with cooking beans, even those as beautiful as christmas limas by rancho gordo. i kind of didn't. but, i did to decent, but not brag-worthy, results. i made tacos sprinkled with an unbelievable sheep's milk feta, thick broiled scallions and a fresh, tart and citrusy tomatillo salsa. the tacos, though - they weren't so pretty. and the apartment was hot when i was finished.
cooked christmas limas
red onion, tomatillos, jalapeno, lime, cilantro
giant scallions

on one of those nights in which i just had to get home, cook, eat and then think, i tossed together a modified (read: i really needed to use up the wild arugula in the fridge and why in the world does the recipe call for all that butter?) version of this pasta with a tomato-gorgonzola sauce. yum.
wild arugula
sadanini regate
pasta, plum tomatoes, onion, garlic, arugula, gorgonzola

i've often read that umami-rich shiitakes make a good, meaty and flavorful replacement for bacon. i think i've tried it in the past to my satisfaction, but it was probably not the best move when making this mild egg-topped asparagus-tossed soba. don't get me wrong, the mushrooms were as great as usual, but they weren't really able to carry the whole dish the way i'm sure bacon could have. like often happens, the noodles (sans egg) were much improved for the next day's leftovers.
shiitake mushrooms
egg, soba, asparagus, shiitake

i don't think i can adequately explain to you my excitement, when after enjoying a great dim sum mother's day with my family, we walked into the chinese market next door and i finally found a green papaya. i've been to korean, japanese and very modern grocery stores and i've never been able to find one (nor have i been able to find a thai store, where i'm sure they would have been waiting by the bin-full). even though we were knee-deep in boxes, i bought it, along with some very tiny dried shrimp, and cobbled together a recipe.
green papaya
green beans

and, here, no food, but a small area of boxes, in between our living room and our dining room. now, sadly, i kind of remember our apartment like this, instead of how it looked when we lived in it. just seeing the stacks make me shudder.

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