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.

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

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

40 Responses to “A Fresh Start”
  1. Kath Says:

    Oh Nancy, how lovely. I love the design of your new home and the birches too. Wishing you both many happy years in your new kitchen and home and may a new routine to life be found soon. Have you got a veg patch? K xx

  2. ernestine lawson Says:

    I love your new home and would like it.
    When I down scaled from huge home in Nashville to
    a cottage by the woods in Robertson County, kept my favorite old pieces of furniture and every item in this
    smaller home has a memory.
    Almost wish I had created what you did as it would
    have been a clean slate for me.
    Your recipe gave me some new ideas.
    Now in the beginning of my 8o’s it may be too late
    to recreate. In my past I would say nothing is
    impossible but it may be now….
    Proud of you.

  3. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Kath–thanks for the good wishes! I do have a place for a respectably sized vegetable patch. THis year, I won’t be too ambitious—I’m thinking tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. Bill and I also planted some fruit trees in the backyard. They are mere sticks now, but should flourish over time. Apples, pears, plums and figs!

  4. goodfoodmatters Says:

    SO nice to hear from you, Ernestine. Thank you. I hope you’ve been well.

    With our move, I kept some things, but most of our boxes were filled with books and kitchenware. I saved one old and lovely mahogany secretary that was my grandmother’s. I have no place for it in my new home, but I couldn’t let it go. I am saving it for my daughter, who will want it in a few years.

  5. Laura Says:

    Congratulations Nance! What a journey! Love, love, love your new home!
    Looking forward to trying your spring salad as well… All so fresh!!

  6. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you LaLa! :) We are so so happy to be here, at last.

  7. Stephanie and Kim Says:

    Great stories as always Nancy. Happy for you and Bill. House looks great and salad does too! Hope to see you guys soon…..

  8. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Steph and Kim—hope to see you soon. It’s been too long. Miss you! Nancy

  9. mark Says:

    The Gypsy Queen and her loyal Artisan have reached their castle on the hill.
    After years of work, worry and wonder, they have settled in to a life of sauces and brushstrokes. Of cutting vegetables and mixing paint. Of wowing the eyes and wowing the palate. behold the power of perseverance.

    May all your meals be joyful and all your canvases be thoughtful.


  10. goodfoodmatters Says:

    So kind and lyrical, Mark. Thank you! This Gypsy Queen is ready to be a homebody again.

  11. K-Run Says:

    Wow Nance so very happy for you and Bill. I know it has been a loooong road to get to this point. I can’t wait to see what new things emerge from your home and cooking.

    The house is beautiful and the salad sounds amazing. It reminds me of our salad that I loved when we were at A Matter of Taste.

    Looking forward to Third Thursdays hopefully or a reincarnation of it.

    Let’s have a Fine Wine on the roof soon! Congratulations!!

  12. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Looking forward to when we can show you the place and the gorgeous rooftop views!

  13. Becky meagher Says:

    Congratulations!!!! Such a long haul but wow what a great house!!!!!

  14. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks, Becky!

  15. paulette Says:


  16. goodfoodmatters Says:

    let’s plan a fun gathering on the rooftop. Music. Poetry. Dance!

  17. Gerlinde Says:

    Nancy , I am so glad you finally moved into your beautiful new home. I missed you in the blogging world. I love the simplicity of your salad.

  18. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you Gerlinde. I have missed my community of blogging friends. I need to come over to Sunnycove Chef and catch up on all that has been happening in your world.

  19. Denise Parsons Says:

    I wished for one of your posts and here it is. Lucky me! What a 9 months! But it was worthwhile. Your new home looks beautiful! Okay, I’ll stop with the exclamation points now. This salad and dressing look delicious and perfect for a gal like me without a stand mixer or food processor. Welcome home! (I guess I wasn’t finished with the exclamation points.)

  20. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Denise! Thanks so much. It feels like an exclamation point to be here. I have a wonderful writing room too and am ready to get back into the flow.

  21. claudia Says:

    hi! beautiful! wonderful! are those kitchen bar stools from room and board?

  22. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Claudia! thank you. oddly, I found those stools here in Nashville at Two Danes (on sale, too!) We love a lot of Room and Board’s stuff and have ordered two small matching sofas from them.

  23. Cathy Says:

    Your new house looks inviting, and so does your salad! We will be making it this week. All your readers are happy to have you cooking for us online again!

  24. goodfoodmatters Says:

    thanks, Cathy! I hope to get back in the flow of cooking and blogging again.

  25. Angela Roberts Says:

    Just wow. Beautifully written like a song and dance, I went from house to house with you. Congratulations on your new home. May it be blessed with excitement, passion and amazing food.

  26. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thank you, Angela. What a lovely blessing. Hope to see you soon.

  27. Wendy Zerface Says:

    Such a beautiful end to an arduous journey! You persevered and now can enjoy the fruits of all your labors! Congrats and Cheers!!

  28. goodfoodmatters Says:

    HI Wendy–yes, cheers all around!

  29. Tammy Says:

    Your new home looks amazing – well worth the gypsy adventure and your kitchen too! Wonderful! Congratulations. I hope you settle in well and enjoy every minute.

  30. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Tammy, so far, we feel like we are on holiday in our new home, just enjoying Being Here. We got a vegetable patch tilled yesterday and will plant this week. I am excited to have tomatoes and peppers in my own backyard!

  31. Juliana Says:

    Oh Nancy, it is so good to “hear” from you and I am sot happy to know that you are settle and have your beautiful kitchen and house. I love the design of your kitchen and house…simple and so elegant!
    The salad sounds and looks delicious, I am loving the avocado and clementine in it…great textures and amazing dressing.
    I hope you are having a super week :)

  32. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Juliana, I have missed my blogging community. Now that I am getting settled in my new home, I hope to post more regularly. Thanks for visiting! Nancy

  33. Teresa Blackburn Says:

    Hi Nancy and congrats on the new abode! Looking good and happy to see you are back after so many months. I thought perhaps you had abandoned us over here in the blog-a-sphere due to no siting over at Food On Fifth for so long….many happy returns and I look forward to new foods from the new beautiful kitchen! xxox

  34. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hey Terese–I am back, in a less abbreviated but still not too frequent form and hope to post more as I settle in. come visit! xoxN

  35. Patsy Says:

    I am on a Road Scholar trip in Berea, KY, and just on a whim decided to see if you might have a post up! A post AND house pics – BONANZA!

    With all the time and effort you devote to others, it is wonderful that now you finally have a home to settle down in – and such a beautiful home at that –

    Not a salad person as you know, but even I thought this one looked tempting! Now THAT is success!

  36. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Thanks, Patsy! Hope you are having a great trip. See you soon.

  37. Kath Says:

    Hi Nancy, I made strata today and thought of you (it was delicious). I hope you are well and truly settled into your new home. Best wishes, Kath

  38. goodfoodmatters Says:

    Hi Kath–so nice to hear from you–and so glad the strata was tasty. I’ve kept up with some of your baking class adventures through Twitter. Yes, we are feeling settled and so happy in our home. I’ve been busy teaching and writing, but alas, no blogging. I miss my blogging friends and hope to return. Thanks for checking in! xN

  39. Kath Says:

    I am so glad you have settled and are happy. You will return to blogging (as will I) when you have more time. I hope the writing means a second book. I love your first so it will be on my ‘to buy’ list.

  40. Karen (Back Road Journal) Says:

    How in the world did I miss this post. Well better late than never to tell you how happy I am that you are finally in your home and what a home it is. Congratulations.

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