Saturday, February 25, 2012

Paring Down

We're in a funny place, having moved our bodies, but not our possessions, from Tampa to Black Mountain. We have gone from a 3800 square foot house with plenty of storage space to an 1100 square foot townhouse. You can guess about the storage capacity. Our stuff will arrive in a couple of days.

Knowing that we would be in a much tinier home, at least for the next 12-16 months while our house is being built, forced us into several weeks of painful examination as we packed cartons. What stays and what goes? Why? If it doesn't stay, where does it go? We brought armloads of clothing to Good Will, gave away 2 sofas, 3 beds, an office hutch, 2 small file cabinets, a coffee table and some wall art. I found wonderful homes for a clarinet (Mr Holland's Opus Foundation) and a 25-year-old fur coat (The Humane Society's Coats for Cubs). We thought we were pretty ruthless, but as I contemplate our current surroundings, I know we're going to have round two of reducing our possessions after Allied dumps them on our doorstep next week.

We're camping out in the townhouse. Our bed is inflatable, the coffee table an overturned packing carton,
and seating is provided by collapsible camp chairs that shed black plastic bits, like flower petals on a runway.

In the kitchen we have 2 of everything: forks, knives, plates, coffee mugs, bowls. I'm cooking meals using a paring knife, a skillet, small saucepan, spatula and large plastic spoon. Available seasonings include salt and pepper.

Does it sound miserable?

Hell no!

During the stress and exhaustion of the past month, our normally healthy diet deteriorated into whatever was easy or craved, or both. Fast food, pizza, frozen meals and sandwiches fit the bill. I baked several loaves of bread and that was pure comfort food, slathered with butter or toasted and covered with almond butter and jam. We dined out a lot: wonderful good-bye events with friends as well as escapes from the towers of packing boxes that inexorably encroached on our living space like Xian warriors.

So I couldn't wait to get to a place where I could be thoughtful about food again, and relax into the rhythm of planning and cooking meals.

What do you cook with these?

Salads work pretty well, but they have to be composed, not tossed. Nothing to toss them in, unless you use the kitchen sink! We've had several salads, helped along by selections from the Ingle's salad bar.

Last night I made-up-as-I-went-along a delicious meal. Here's the menu:

  • Boneless pork chops smothered in apple, onion and bacon
  • Baked sweet potato 
  • Fresh steamed green beans
First I cooked 4 bacon strips. I removed them from the pan and added 1/2 sliced onion and 2 peeled, cored and chopped apples. Cooked them for a bit and removed from pan. Added salted/peppered pork chops and sauteed on both sides until almost done, then added the apple, onion and bacon bits and cooked til all warm and pork is done. I had to slice the pork chops before serving, because it needs to be fork-friendly when the plate's in your lap!

I also did a chicken/broccoli/mushroom stir fry with a flavorful Indian cooking sauce (Seeds Of Change Organic Jalfrezi Simmer Sauce) It was really good, and easy, but not as good as the pork chops.

This morning breakfast was grapefruit and a frittata (eggs, broccoli, onion, red pepper)

To be honest, I'm really enjoying living smaller, and dreading the arrival of stuff I now know we don't need.  An entire carton, for example of herbs and spices. Crazy!...we have nowhere to put them. A couple of dozen wine glasses. Several casserole dishes. More clothes to donate.

You won't hear me complain though, about sitting on a sofa or eating off a wooden table.  Nor will I scorn our real bed. (You should see us rolling off the inflated mattress to get out of bed. It's pretty damn funny.) It'll be nice to have a vacuum cleaner and the remote control for our Roku as well.

In the meantime, we're eating well and laughing a lot.

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