April 29th, 2017

A Fresh Start

Nomadic no more.
Welcome to my kitchen; welcome to my new home.

It’s been a long journey getting here. Three years, from when we first found the lot, its blighted home in foreclosure, to moving in, just a few short weeks ago. Inside that stretch came our imagining the possibilities of a downsized life to the actual downsizing itself.

The process of creating the new was countered by the shedding of the old. As the framework of our future abode began rising from the foundation, we began the closing out of our longtime Belmont home.

A kind of dance,
Albeit a lopsided one. The shedding happened much faster than the build.

We were gypsies for an unforeseen nine months (ah, a gestation!) and lived in six different places during that time.

For the first three months, we stayed with a recently widowed friend. After that, we house-sat for friends who were on vacation for the month of October. We spent first part of November with friends on the eastside of town who’d just completed a home addition. Then, we extended our customary Thanksgiving visit with our family in DC.

As December loomed and the construction lagged, we had another housing challenge. It has been tradition that I host Christmas for my whole family, a tradition I felt compelled, despite our transient ways, to continue. But, where?

My friend Vicki knew of a large and vacant home on her street that she thought we could rent as an Air B&B for the month. She made some inquiries–and she was right. Built in 1930, it was a curious home that combined English Tudor with what we laughingly called Spanish Inquisition. (Remember the Monty Python skit, “No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!”)

It had textured stucco walls with twisted black wrought iron sconces. Curving staircases with wrought iron rails. Arched windows and doorways. A coat of arms emblazoned over a great stone hearth. Straightback hard wooden benches and dining chairs that were torturous for sitting in longer than two minutes. (There’s the real Inquisition part.)

Despite the uncomfortable seating (and it went beyond the cruel benches and ladderbacks to include ancient upholstered chairs and sofa in permanent sag), the house was furnished with just about everything you’d need. Rummaging a storage room in the basement, I was ecstatic to find a box of ornaments so we could trim a tree.

I confess, it felt odd, adorning the tree with someone else’s decorations, some inscribed with family names and dates. There were moments, preparing for the holidays, that I felt like a thief. An interloper. A dame on the lam. Like I’d stealed in and taken on someone else’s life.

Our gypsy tour ended near a park and golf course, (relentless golfers putting the green every wintry day!) where we holed up in a small condo. It had been purchased by friend Celeste as a place for her family to stay when they came to visit. Lucky for us, it was between visits and Celeste was gracious to host us.

Home now, and our vagabond time makes it all the sweeter. Unpacking, setting up my kitchen, filling my pantry, is far easier and more fun than taking things down and packing them away.

I am grateful too for all the unforeseen aid we had along the way.Friends and family were good to us. We always had a place to stay. I think about the 643,000 truly homeless people in the United States at any given moment, the 11 million Syrians displaced, fleeing for their lives in the horror of war, our transient time was an minor inconvenience.

Still, for a homebody such as myself, our gypsy time was instructive. How fast could we adapt to a new surrounding? How little did we need to live? Turns out, pretty fast and dang little.

Even now, I have yet to use my stand mixer or food processor. I guess I got used to not having them, so I’d been doing everything old school. Like this chive dressing, simply whisked in bowl. But I imagine before long, I’ll be running this new kitchen at full tilt. And sharing what I learn.

SPRING SALAD WITH RADISHES, CLEMENTINES, AVOCADO AND CHIVE DRESSING
1 head butterhead or Boston lettuce, leaves washed and dried
4-5 radishes, washed and thinly slices
2 clementines or mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced into rings
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

Fresh chive dressing (recipe below)

Start by layering the bottom of the salad bowl with your greens. Follow with a portion of the radishes, clementines, avocado, and red onion. Drizzle with dressing. Then repeat the layering process.(this will take two more layers.)

Serves 4

FRESH CHIVE DRESSING
1 bundle fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup fruity olive oil

Place all over the ingredients EXCEPT for the olive oil into a mixing bowl. Begin whisking, and then slowly stream the olive oil into the mix, continuing to whisk.

(You can also put all of the ingredients into a jar and SHAKE-SHAKE-SHAKE!)

Our new home, image taken in March 2017. A big change from the Victorian Four Square!

Posted in Recipes, Salads, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian Dishes | 36 Comments »