Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Family Member, and Emptying the Fridge

One of my least favorite things about the move was the overwhelming feeling of insecurity.  Having no idea if what we were doing was going to be the right choice and the sheer size of this possibly wrong decision was pretty overwhelming, and here it is again, albeit on a much smaller scale.  When we landed in Sacramento we had to find an apartment pretty quickly, since we were living out of a Motel 6, so we were not really picky.  We had no idea where in the area we would want to be, so we chose our apartment based solely on the cost of rent (very low) and the length of lease (very short). 

Meet Murtry, the newest member of our tribe

It has been some time since our lease was up and we have been looking for a new apartment for months, though somewhat lazily.  When we got our tax return back our search got a little more serious, and then our family expanded.  About two weeks ago we adopted/inherited a dog.  This was not at all a planned thing, so we were completely unprepared.  One of the first things I said to my husband when he told me that he was bringing home this dog was that we had to find a larger apartment by the end of the month.  I cannot in good conscience keep a dog (though he is small) in our one bedroom apartment. 
So our search has had a bit of fire put under it.  We have looked at tons of apartments in the last few weeks and none of them seemed to be right.  More than once we tried to convince ourselves to take apartments we didn’t want because they looked good on paper.  We tried making lists of all the things we want in an apartment and the more we looked the more realistic we had to become, with our price range there is only so much you can ask of an apartment. 
This might take a while
We have (hopefully) chosen an apartment that works, and as we wait to find out if our applications get approved the anxiety is building.  What if we are making the wrong choice?  Its main selling point for us was its location, walking distance to Rob’s job and the American River.  Since Rob and I share one car this is pretty huge for us and will relieve a lot of stress and gas money.  Though I know that we made a good choice I can’t stop having doubts, which get exasperated by well meaning folks that question whether we should continue looking for that perfect place. 
I can’t wait till we are actually in the apartment so that these doubts will be behind me, and I can start cooking and eating for real again.  We are currently trying to empty out the fridge/freezer/cabinets because I have a weird thing with moving food, of all the things we have to pack, carry and move I find food to be unnecessary.  So a lot of our meals are consisting of canned beans, frozen stocks and soups and root vegetables.  Though some are coming out great (I have plans tonight for a meal that I will tell you more about if it works) I hate to be so contained.
I-man is less than pleased with the new guys eating habits
Our new buddy seems to be thrilled with his new family, and has been eager to show us his love, which is pretty awesome.  I am confident our new home with more space and the river so close by will make him ( and us) happy, and though there will always be a mythical better choice over the horizon I am more than happy to end the search, and get on with things.  We did talk to the landlord this morning, who said that our credit looks great and as long as our current landlord says good things it is pretty much ours.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

An Edible Upbringing

It seems that most of my childhood food memories blend together into a big blur of taste, smell and experience.  Not because they weren't special or because there were so few of them, instead it is exactly the opposite. Food was a constant in my life and my family, it was always there being prepared, often from scratch, as the central focus not only to large family gatherings, but also the nightly gathering of my own little universe.  It was not until I was older that I really grasped how special it was that I spent every evening with my family around the dinner table.  I credit this with my love of food and cooking, and also my ability to be a good listener and to engage in lively (often political) conversation.  I didn't realize until I was in high school that all my friends were not going home to dinner when I was, I just thought this was what families did.  I had many rebellious stages but not sitting at the dinner table was never one of them.  Even when I figured out that there was all this action going on when I went home for dinner, I still did not try to get out of this nightly ritual.

My mom and I @ my wedding shower
I am lucky enough to have a mom that takes pleasure in cooking, though I can assume there were plenty of those nights that she would have rather ordered a pizza or stuck something in the microwave. It was important for her to gather our family around the table, and I think the act of making dinner was also a winding down from the work day for her, her way of leaving that world and entering the one at home.  Whatever her motivation for it, I can easily say that this was one of those things that hugely affected who I am, and for the better. 
It was pretty rare, in my early days of figuring out how to cook for myself, that I did not call my mom mid cooking with some edible dilemma that I needed her to fix.  I will still call her over googling my quandaries, knowing that her answer will probably be better.   I have gotten to the point that I am pretty confident in the kitchen, though I still hold my mom to this standard that I can’t imagine myself reaching.  I do not yet have the ability to open the fridge, and not matter what is in there, put a full meal on the table.  If I realize that I am missing an ingredient half way through a recipe I will often go get it at the store, though I am sure my mom would know a replacement.
1st time grilling this season
Early last month my parents came for their first California visit, and I was thrilled to be able to show them this place I have chosen as my home.  Of course much of the visit was spent concerned with food, either in the deciding, procuring, cooking or eating format.  My mom and I had the pleasure of cooking together as equals, possibly for the first time.  We have cooked together many times, but usually with me asking her tons of questions, and lacking confidence while in the kitchen with her.  This time around I was pleased to know a few things that she didn’t, and to impress her with the quality some of the ingredients that we have here.  Though she will always be a few (or lots of) steps ahead of me in the kitchen it was a pleasure to know that I could hold my own, and I think that she enjoyed it just as much.
A meal made by my mom and I
We take away a lot of things from our upbringing, some of them we realize and many of them we don’t.  I know for certain that without those nightly meals I would be a very different person, and I wonder if I would take as much pleasure from food as I do.  I hope that many of you were as lucky as I was in these nightly dinners, and if you weren’t I hope you are doing your best to introduce them into your lives.  I can promise you that it is worth it.
Happy Mothers Day to all you moms, I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing day, preferably with someone else fixing you a great meal.