In the Living Kitchen

Musings, memories, meals in the making.


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It’s the little things…

photo-16This post is really about tempeh. I promise.

Our household is in that place where when we feel like spending a little extra beyond our monthly bills, we do a 3-4 month budget projection. Inevitably, it turns out there isn’t any extra, and that is clear when the mortgage is due 3 months into the future.

I don’t want to paint the wrong picture. I am not suffering in any real way. Chinese takeout once or twice a month, yoga class once a week, a beer or two every so often. Plus, we are paying our mortgage! It’s fine. But how I covet things. Don’t let the fact that I only have 5 pairs of shoes* (3 of which are 8 years old) fool you. I covet shoes. And other apparel. Kitchen towels. Appliances. Organic sheets. Things.

When I was little, my family didn’t have much. I think it must have been pretty hard on my folks having three young kids always asking for stuff, but never really being able to provide. Instead of saying no, they got in the habit of saying, “someday.” We’d plan on these half promises so much that our parents would actually take us to the store to look at and pick out the things that they would buy us someday. I have very fond memories of a three story Victorian doll house, the polished miniature dining set, intricate curtains, iron bed, rotary telephone, and patterned rugs that I adored, examined, obsessed over, and never owned. I went to Hobby Lobby every week one summer just to look at the doll house that I would own someday.

photo-15So, yes, I will admit it, I get depressed when there isn’t any extra, because I like to think that someday I’ll be able to buy stuff. This cycle is in my blood. True to my upbringing, the best cure I have found for this gloom is Home Goods, the discount home goods store. Everything at Home Goods is either a factory second or an over stock. I always enjoy myself the most at Home Goods when I go in resolved not to buy anything. That’s always when  I find a gem, like I did on Sunday evening. I was walking around, scrutinizing every slightly rejected item on the shelf, as usual. I was in the kitchen section, where I always begin, when I spied a three tiered cooling rack.

For about 3-4 months, I have been making tempeh. The problem is, the incubator, an old mini-fridge outfitted with a light bulb and a thermostat, only has two tiny shelves, and therefore I can only fit 2 batches of tempeh in at a time. The bottom shelf is plexiglass, and there is no circulation. To remedy this, Sam placed our turkey roasting rack, which we no longer have a need for roasting turkey, on top of the plexiglass shelf to help with air flow, but it makes the tempeh wonky, and sometimes the tempeh incubated on these shelves has patches that haven’t “tempehed.”

This post really is about tempeh!

So, there I am in Home Goods, looking at what normally I would think is a worthless piece of crap, that I spied for no reason at all on the bottom shelf, and all I can think of is how this three tiered cooling rack might solve my tempeh problems. I show it to Sam, thinking he is going to tell me its way too big, since I have terrible judgement when it comes to that sort of thing, and he nods his head pensively. There is hope.

I shell out the $9.99, which might take its toll in March, and the entire ride home all I can think of is that this rack is going to be way too big, and we are going to have a three tiered cooling rack that I am going to have to store it in the basement.

When we get home, I grab the rack, open it, pull the incubating tempeh off the shelves, and slide the rack in. It fits perfectly. This thing has made me so happy.photo-14

*OKAY. Yes. 5 pairs of shoes is a ridiculously silly way of proving my point. I know. But I still want new ones.


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A Day in this Year

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Chocolate stout cake with brown sugar frosting. The frosting wasn't perfect, but I suffered through it anyway.

I start this song-birdy Sunday off unlike any other day in recent memory. Out of bed at 7:00 am (I usually wake up at 4:45 during the week and reserve weekends to lounge around in bed until 8 or 9), not coffee but tea, making several weekend plans for March, April, May and June (unheard of in the past four years), and thinking about the work I will do in the small garden plot I am installing at work.

My mind doesn’t quite know how to wrap itself around the fact that I am not planning, worrying, plotting and thinking about the farm that is no longer in my care. I checked a non-farmy book out from the library a month and a half ago and never opened it before I returned it over-due. I still plan on attempting to read a work of fiction, however I have already started reading a book about growing winter greens.

I wonder, how I am coping with this new space in my brain? I am trying to fill it with niceties, but something else is creeping in. It is clear that this limbotic, seemingly still moment in my life, the year I turn 30, has made it clear that there is some major stirring within, a stirring I cannot even fathom, a stirring that is quite scary, ancient, dark, and necessary. Farm work took up those happy little spaces in my brain that had tortured me so long, and now, well, now there is room. Nature abhors a vacuum.

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I guess writing is the key coping mechanism. Perhaps urge is more apt. This writing, just this writing, so far. I ordered a book called “Writing Down the Bones,” a sort of workbook I guess. Another urge. Gravitate towards the things you thought might heal you way back when, when the wounds were almost certainly fatal.

Ah. And I realize the other elephant in the room of coping is running. Yes running. Nothing else quite like the bone shaking addiction of running. As I write, I am resisting the urge to run today since I know my body can’t handle it 7 days a week. Yes, I know. I don’t quite cope, I beat myself into submission. Here’s to trying!

So, I have also made a lot of cakes, eaten a lot of cakes, and run, a lot, eaten more cake. And written once.

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Mexican Hot Chocolate Birthday Cake: Cinnamon scented four layer chocolate cake with chile ganache between the layers and whipped coconut cream frosting on top.