Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Cleaning and Spring Roll Salad

This past Sunday to-do list included:
  • paint living room/bathroom scratches
  • bleach porch mold
  • pack holiday items
  • pick up art for bathroom
  • realtor visit @ 2:30
  • make soup (dinner Tues)
  • make salad (dinner Sun)
  • S. sauce (dinner Mon)
That was in addition to the usual do two loads of laundry, make breakfast and lunch for the kids, don't ignore the kids, check and respond to the deluge of email coming in from spring break returnees and faculty, and our optional-but-semi-dutiful attendance at church.  At several points during the day (one of which was when I discovered the ant egg nest in our rotten porch post), I thought, "what are we doing?  this is madness."

Though we keep the house pretty neat, I've never been overwhelmed by the prospect of spring cleaning before.  Our porch floor has to be painted, the posts replaced, rotten wood removed, I already mentioned that our tub and tile and bathroom window are rotten and need to be replaced, and paint could be applied in lots of places.  I could probably wash the curtains, but I won't, because some of them are "window treatments" and I haven't the foggiest idea where to start with those, and others are so faded that the only possible outcome is not a good scenario.

And there is so much to pack.

On Saturday, our town celebrated the 300th anniversary of our county with a parade and fireworks and birthday cake for 2000 people (donated by our local ShopRite, where it's like "Cheers," and everyone knows my name).  My son rode on the float commemorating the oldest house in town, a museum of which he's the youngest "member" (his own donation).  While eating cake, we met some friends who invited us for an impromptu dinner at one of the local restaurants, which was packed with people waiting for the fireworks to start.  And later, as I watched the peonies and chrysanthemums and willows explode from our bedroom window (because we can see our town fireworks from our house, just as we can walk to the parades downtown), I couldn't help but feel a pang of regret.  I love this community.  It's the first place I've ever felt like I belonged, like I was part of a neighborhood.  I know practically half of the people in town.  Maybe more.  Board of Ed members see me in the store or on the street and tell me they miss me .  People call me and ask me to serve on boards and borough committees.  We may not be in town much on the weekdays, but every other weekend in the summer there's a classic car show, and concerts, and an easy walk to our little library.  This is home.

Though I know that comparatively speaking, we take up more space than most other human beings, I also feel like it would be nice to live in a house that didn't require adults to duck in my son's bedroom.  There are things I will be able to do with my kids now that they'll be a shorter commute away from work.  The new house is beautiful, and everyone tells me (I hope I can believe them) that we shouldn't have a problem selling our current one, given its location and the fact that we've taken good care of it.  Still, uprooting hurts when you've sent your taproot deep.

Maybe that's why I've thrown myself into the preparation for moving with such zeal, to avoid thinking too much about the things we're leaving behind, to ignore that lump in my throat, as we step off again into the unknown.

What do your spring cleaning rituals look like?

Spring Roll Salad

2 t. fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 T. hoisin sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 T. honey
1 t. sesame oil
1 t. fish sauce
20-30 wonton wrappers, cut into triangles or circles

1/2 lb. boneless chicken or shrimp or tofu, cut into bite sized chunks
2 T. soy sauce
1 t. brown sugar
1 t. sesame oil
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 

1 package cooked vermicelli noodles, chopped
1 1/2 large avocados, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 large head butter lettuce, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 c. each fresh basil, mint and cilantro - roughly chopped
4 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
2 T. toasted sesame seeds
1/4 c. roasted cashews 

Preheat the oven to 375, and prepare a baking sheet with parchment.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil and fish sauce. Place the wontons in a single layer on the baking sheet; brush with dressing, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp and golden. Repeat with another batch if needed.

Whisk the peanut butter into the remaining dressing. Thin to your desired consistency with water 1 T. at a time (but not so thin, because it needs to stick to the noodles). Set aside until ready to serve.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, lime juice, and garlic. Add the chicken/shrimp/tofu, and toss well. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the chicken/shrimp/tofu and all the liquids. Brown until cooked through and the sauce has reduced. Remove from the heat allow to cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooked chicken/shrimp/tofu, vermicelli, avocado, carrots, bell peppers, chopped lettuce, green onions, basil, mint and cilantro, lemongrass, sesame seeds and cashews. Lightly toss and add the dressing, toss again, divide the salad among bowls and serve with the chips.  Eat it before the noodles get soggy, and try not to lick the bowl.  Because it's possible to overdo spring cleaning.
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  1. Its always bittersweet, moving. You're going on to new adventures but its hard to leave the known and loved behind.
    On another note, woman you do a LOT of stuff in a weekend!! I would be seriously flipping out with that to do list.
    We do not do any kind of spring cleaning whatsoever. Spring is time to finally finally head outside and ignore the house altogether.

  2. Ha - you just gave me the salad to go with our Shabbat dinner this week -- thank you.

    I am terrible at uprooting, so I understand that lump in the throat. All I can say is that if you reflect on life several months after a move, you can realize that you always make it to the other side. And sometimes where you land is even better. At least, that is what I remind myself.


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