Sunday, December 18, 2011

When I have a plan...

Thursday night went really well. That's what happens when I have a plan. Even though Gusty had street hockey until 4:30 and we didn't get home until almost 6:00 we managed to get all the homework done, practice the cello, have a real home cooked meal, watch a 1/2 hour of Boomerang and and still get to bed at a normal hour.

Dinner was braised tofu sticks with green beans and rice. I had never made tofu sticks before and was unsure what to do with them. If you've never seen them, they're available at Asian markets. They come in a bag and look like giant, yellow, gnarled witch's fingers. I have gotten them before and they languished in the cupboard and ended up in the garbage. Not this time. Inspired by Gusty's desire for a reproduction of the roast "duck" served at the vegetarian Chinese joints, I looked into their preparation. Suffice to say that they will become a regular on the meal roster.

I put them to soak in the morning before we left the house and when we returned home I put them in a pot with star anise, cinnamon sticks, sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, a few dried chilies and ginger. After a 40 minute simmer they were ready to eat along with simple preparation brown rice and some garlic sautéed green beans. Gusty, who originally complained that he would be eating something brown (huh?) ate them with wild abandon and we all enjoyed the chewy texture along with the sweet and savory broth. A topping of garlic chili sauce didn't hurt either.

The braising broth was complex. It had some spice, some sweet, some savory... I wondered what it would taste like if I simmered it until a reduction ensued. After refrigerating the tofu, I put the pot back on to simmer for about 45 minutes and I wasn't disappointed with the results. The broth reduced to a more pungent version of itself and I tried it over vanilla ice cream. That was good too but next time I'll sprinkle on a few sesame seeds. The plot thickens.

When I make the tofu sticks again I'm going to soak them in a more flavorful concoction, maybe some tea and peppercorns. They absorb a ton of liquid. Why shouldn't that liquid have some taste.

On Friday night we had tofu pups and popcorn for dinner. I definitely did not have a plan.

Decisions Decisions

Over the last month or so I have been strugglinh with a decision to let my Mother's storage space go. I had been paying for first 3, then 2, then 1 storage locker since 2007 when she got sick. In the process of eliminating lockers we eliminated a lot of stuff. Stuff from Shelter Island. Stuff from her office. Stuff from her home. So much stuff. I hope I never have that much stuff.

A few months ago it became prohibitive for me to pay for the locker and unable to even get into the space I stopped fretting over the contents. I started wondering how much I had spent over the years to keep this stuff and while there were a few things I really would have liked to retrieve the thought of forking over $700 to spend a week going through boxes of books to locate a few photos and old 78's was not worth it. Over the years most of what had meaning for my mom or myself had been removed and most of what was left was expendable. Of course there is that word; most.

I have to remember that I have my memories, her few special pieces of jewelry and what's left of these plates which I'm pretty sure were a wedding present to my parents oh so many years ago. I think I'll put some corn and little yellow tomatoes on them in her honor but that will have to wait until summer.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

If you only shoot close ups...

When you begin occupying a new space all you can see is the big picture, rooms full of boxes and the detritus of your existence.  As you work to put things together you begin to see close ups of normalcy, a corner that has come together with art and a certain grace, or a bedroom you can actually relax in (especially if you can't see the rest of the house).  Then you pull focus to see that there is still disarray.

It's ok.  The doorways are clear, I can walk from one room to another without tripping (as long as some family member hasn't left something right smack in the middle of the floor) and there is space to play and for me to lie on the floor and enjoy my little bed of nails. Small pleasures.

This week Gusty was sick and so I stayed home.  "Yea," I thought.  We'll sit and do some art, maybe make something out of Sculpy, I can find a new knitting project.  Instead I relocated glasses, vacuumed, emptied more boxes, went shopping, made dinner and played Cranium.  It was still a good day even if I didn't make any money or lovely little items.

Dinner was a simple affair.  On my walk I went to Pastosa's Ravioli where I got some extremely yummy fresh angel hair and some surprisingly vegetarian pasta and bean soup.  The angel hair was excellent topped with pesto and chopped toasted walnuts and served with fried broccoli.  Producing a meal is definite sign that things are on an upswing.  The leftover angel hair and broccoli went to my lunch the next day, a spaghetti omelet topped with extra sharp vermont cheddar cheese.  I love spaghetti omelets.   Gusty got the pasta and bean soup.

Today fresh waffles for breakfast and quinoa cakes and more fried broccoli for dinner.

On Wednesday I went out with some girls.  More signs of normalcy.