Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Finally, a dinner cooked in my new kitchen! Granted, it was dinner for 1. Just me.
It's been nearly a month since my last "big" shopping trip. We've had a lot of quick runs to the store for milk and bread and all of the convenience and junk food that have fueled this cleaning, painting, packing, moving effort but yesterday it was time to pick up some "real" food- kitchen staples and ingredients for the meals I have planned for the next two weeks. While it was difficult to lose a day of work on the new house as I shopped and put everything away, it does feel good to have a "stocked" pantry and fridge again.
By the time that I had finished shopping at the second store last night (it always takes longer when you are learning a new store, doesn't it?), it was past dinner-time. My daughters claimed that they were "starving" and couldn't go another minute without food. They begged for a drive-thru. At first, I tried to to talk them out of fast food. You see, when I set out for the store, I had planned to provide a home-cooked dinner (FINALLY!) with the newly purchased groceries. We've eaten far too much fast food during this move... But, reality was setting in. The idea of driving home, unloading the groceries, and THEN cooking dinner before wading into the bedtime hour was more than daunting.
And so, I caved. It certainly helped their case that they were growing crankier by the minute and the whining that resulted from this cranky-hungry-tired combination was grating against my very last nerve. This impending severance of the last nerve was also being accelerated by the to-do list running through my mind. The very to-do list that was on hold for the moment to allow for the surprisingly lengthy grocery shopping trip. Addressing the whining was distracting me from said "to-do" list. In this moment, after waiting in the long grocery lines and now sitting in rush hour traffic with tired, hungry children, I didn't want to be distracted. Not even a little bit. I was suddenly aware of my fingernails digging into the steering wheel and my knuckles growing white from the pressure I had unconsciously asserted on the poor, faultless navigational device. Fortunately, I happen to understand that this famed last nerve can make me meaner than a wet hen if it snaps. I mean, things can get UGLY. I knew that I was about to become a real "jerk" and possible a poor role model to my children. I didn't desire to be a jerk any more than I desired to be distracted from my extensive mental to-do list. And soo, my kiddos soon found themselves happily devouring Arby's in the backseat haven of our mini-van and watching a Scooby Doo DVD on the glorious pull-down LCD screen as I inched toward home, braving the traffic and relishing the peace in my cluttered cockpit.
While the girls were giddy about another round of fast food, I couldn't stand that thought of another paper or foil wrapped dinner. Then I remembered THIS Cilantro Noodle recipe that I'd seen at Noble Pig. A quick, comforting bowl of noodles turned out to be just what the doctor ordered for my rumbling tummy and damaged last nerve. After I'd put away the groceries and sent the kiddos upstairs to change into their p.j.'s, I gathered the minimal ingredients needed to create this easy bowl of noodles: Ramen noodles, canola and sesame oils, soy sauce, shallot, and cilantro.
You may notice that there is joint compound smeared along the wall on the left-hand side of the above ingredient picture. This stuff is everywhere in the new house! Lots of holes and cracks that needed to be filled, sanded down, and finally painted over. I have been doing a ton of "spackling" and painting lately.
Speaking of which, sometime last week I arrived at the conclusion that spackling a wall is not un-like attempting to make the icing perfectly smooth on a birthday cake. So while I haven't been cooking or baking lately, I HAVE been brushing up on my kitchen skills!
Here's another realization for all of you DIYers: Having a radio or iPod in your possession while smoothing on joint compound or even painting for hours on end is equally as essential as any of the fancy equipment you may purchase at the home improvement store. In my opinion, "The Sound of Silence" is a dreadful soundtrack for extensive home renovation. Too much quiet time when rushing to bring the walls of your home up to par before the movers place your furniture lends itself to either being consumed by the to-do list in your mind OR WORSE, 3 nights into your project, you might find yourself sitting up straight in your bed in the wee hours, drenched in a cold sweat and gasping for breath with the ominous sound of a 3/8" contractor grade paint roller smacking color onto your walls echoing in your ears. Not that this happened to me, of course. I'm just saying that it could happen.
While I'm sharing my realizations, here's one more: Over the weekend, it occurred to me that the last time I purchased and painted a house, I was 25. That's 9 years younger than I am now (my 34th birthday is tomorrow). Back then I didn't have 2 children. That house was a little ranch on a slab and brand-spanking-new. NOW there are 4 of us, with so much more "stuff" to move. This house is much bigger, older (a very charming 73 years old), and in need of a bit of TLC. No wonder I feel as if I've been run over by a truck at the end of each day!
Okay, enough with these "realizations" and back to the Cilantro Noodles...
They were easy to prepare....just boil ramen noodles for 3 minutes, then rinse with cold water and drain.
I wish I had known about this recipe in college when I was just eating them with the included flavor packet stirred in!
Heat up the canola and sesame oils in a saucepan or skillet (I used the saucepan that I cooked the noodles in so that I didn't have to wash an extra pan), then add some finely chopped shallot and saute for a minute or two until tender. Don't walk away from the stove during this step! Shallots have a tendency to burn quickly and then you'll have to start all over, diminishing one of the qualities that I loved about this recipe: It's speedy. Like, dinner-in-10-minutes speedy!
Okay, now deglaze the pan with soy sauce.
And toss in the noodles and cilantro.
And that's it!
Mmm. Dinner! These noodles were perfect for a quick dinner, but they would also make an excellent side dish. For the recipe click HERE. I should note that I followed the sauce recipe exactly, using the recommended amounts of oils, shallots, soy sauce, and cilantro BUT I only added ONE package of ramen rather than the recommended 3 packages. So, if you decide to make this for your family, I'd recommend tripling the sauce ingredients provided in the recipe.
These almost made me forget about my to-do list.
But there are still lots of boxes to unpack. Our whole garage is full of boxes right now!
And then, there is the painting. We'll probably pick a painting project every weekend for a while and then save a few for the summer.
AND there are more repairs to make. On the day we moved in, a contractor found a huge block of ice inside of our family room wall. (Yes, we had an inspection. No, the inspector did not catch this problem.) It turns out that the new roof installed by the previous owners was missing some necessary sheathing, which created a lack of water drainage. When the water froze this winter, the shingles were pushed up, allowing water to leak into the wall. The water that was leaking down eventually froze, creating an ice dam inside of the wall.
Now, we could leave the ice inside of the wall and pretend that everything is fine, ignoring the signs of impending doom (loose drywall tape and water marks down the wall)...but in the Spring, disaster would be imminent. Better to deal with the problem now with a more "controlled" melt. And so, as the ice melted, a steady stream of water ran down into the house, bubbling the dry wall and creating an overall mess. Ugh. More spackle and paint...plus a roof repair. Oh the joys of home ownership! A large part of last Sunday morning was spent with my husband on the roof and me handing him tools through an open bathroom window in an attempt to keep the roof de-iced. Fun times.
But still, it's all good. We love this house. Really and truly. It already feels like home.
On a positive note, I want to brag a little before I wrap up the moving update. The kiddos have been VERY patient through this process. Here's a pic that I snapped on one of our workdays. No furniture in the house, just a couple of bean bag chairs and mommy's laptop for movies. Now that's the life!
So, that's the story behind where I have been and how the move to the new place is going. Thanks for hanging in there while I've been away and for sticking with me as I whined and complained through this post. I DO realize how blessed we are to be able to purchase and fix up a home and raise our children here. And I want to add that we haven't done this all on our own. We are very thankful for all of our family members and friends who have shown up to help. Yep. Definitely feeling grateful as I sit here on my cozy couch, looking into my new kitchen...our babies nestled snugly in their new rooms, safe and warm from this nasty winter storm that is currently pelting ice against the windows. Definitely.
And now, an attempt to return to normalcy. While most everything is still boxed up in our garage, this kitchen is up and running! I've got meals planned! I've got groceries! I've got ample space to work! Hooray!
Nothing specific with this meal plan. No grocery list for the week. Although, I promise to have the grocery list up again next week. But what I DO have is a list of recipes that I will be posting in the coming days.
Roasted Garlic Duck Sandwiches
Duck Fajitas (because I thawed too much duck)
Stewed Italian Sausage with Peppers
Croque Madame Casserole
I hope that all of you are having a good week and staying warm and safe in this weather!