Sunday night, Andrew met me in our kitchen. He threw his arms around me and whispered, "Thank God, you're back! I didn't think I could make it much longer without you." This touching and sincere confession on his part was my reward for (drum roll please) cooking dinner.
I did it. I cooked. Twice last week actually. I managed to be in my kitchen, not nauseous, not exhausted, cooking. It took some degree of external impetus: a handful of visiting Texans no less. To those who think it far to come, it has been done, and the travel time is not too bad. Dan Train came up just for dinner (and to deliver the cats with Tibra, but I'd like to think he came for a night hanging out with the Teleps). One night stays are not generally recommended though; consider this your invitation: Come, Stay with us!
Now, I won't say I'm back and on top of my game. I severely over-cooked the prime rib. Sin of all culinary sins. Seeing the not-pink centre of the meat made me dust off a few four-letter kitchen descriptor words. But I did manage a meal that really left me grateful for our new location. Upon surveying the table, I realized that our food was from well within the 100-mile radius. Most of it was organic, locally grown and picked up from our fabulous farmer's market. The fried green tomatoes were from our own front porch. The best part of this is that it wasn't intentional. I didn't set out shopping with a moral obligation - this is just what is available - and not at a premium price.
Oh to be back in the eating world among the living! It is a good thing. And since I was at the farmer's market and it wasn't too late, I picked up some tomatoes and beets for canning. Last year, my bushel of Roma tomatoes kept us from having to purchase canned tomatoes all winter. I began to develop a complex about buying tomatoes out-of-season after reading Robert Farrar Capon's book, Food for Thought. That book, very highly recommended, also solidified the complex I already had with margarine and blunt knives. Going without tomatoes for most the year is not an option, so I realized I could do one better than buying canned tomatoes by canning my own.
As the movement towards buying local and growing your own food has been growing, canning has been making something of a comeback. It was one of the new hobbies I have undertaken as a professional housewife after moving here. It is one of the hobbies that baffles my father who wonders, often aloud to me and others, why his daughter has thrown all those years of higher education into recapturing the lifestyle of his grandparents. However, eating my tomatoes all winter was worth it. Now, the stock is replenished and we've added pickled beets to the cellar.
Spending hours yesterday pickling beets reminded me that I could never have done it one month ago. The boiling vinegar and cinnamon spices would have killed me or at least left me immobile in the bathroom. I won't say it was easy. Beets are messy; my hands are still a ruby-red shade of purple. Steaming hot water on the stove heated the whole house and I felt like I'd accidentally ventured into Houston. I complained; I had a breakdown when I found myself temporarily locked away from my supply of vinegar, my back hurt. But now I have two and half dozen pints of beets for eating to show for my day.
Now, I just have to figure out where to muster the energy to finish de-beeting the kitchen.