Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Caveat Emptor

Inspired by Searching for our Silver Lining's post about putting her home on the market.


Caveat emptor:

You will need to check the raspberries in early July.  I know the bushes are prickly, but please pick them daily; don't let the birds get those two quarts.  I worked too hard for that, pruning the canes each year, the tiny thorns stuck in my skin. I have a recipe for fresh raspberry pie if you need it.

About the hydrangeas.  I know they look dead right now.  They've come and gone these ten years (we coaxed them to bloom the first year we moved in); perhaps they're in mourning for us.  They came too early this year, with the warm spring, and were taken by surprise by the cold snap in March.  You might want to leave them be, in case they come around in the end.

I know that you're planning to live mostly on one floor, but I hope you'll take a shower upstairs every once in a while, where you can look out the window and see the barn bathed in early morning sunlight. I'll make sure it sparkles for you before we leave.

I hope you don't mind my forwardness, but the best place for your couch is near the window in the living room.  The breezes are calming at night, and you'll be able to look outside, sitting sideways, and hear the sounds of people enjoying summer at the pool. If you're not feeling well, the sounds will lull you to sleep.

Are you bringing some chairs for the front porch? It's the best place to watch thunderstorms and the 5K races on Thanksgiving and in June. I recommend a rocking chair.  It's an old porch.

While we're on the subject of porches: please plan to buy at least ten bags of candy for Halloween.  There will be about 300 children who come to your door, and I don't want to disappoint them.

I hope you like the neighbors.  Feel free to ask to borrow an egg or some aluminum foil, like we did on the day we moved in. Maybe they'll tell you about the time I won an ice cream block party from Edy's for an essay I wrote about my community, and we all sat out under the tree between your driveway and your neighbors' driveway, with tubs and tubs of ice cream they shipped to us in styrofoam containers with dry ice.

And one last thing: there may be ghosts.  They're quiet, mostly, but you may hear them at night, unfulfilled dreams, children that never saw this world.  Be kind to them.  Speak softly to them.  They shouldn't trouble you; they're looking for me.  You can tell them where we've gone.

Take care of this home, with its patches in the drywall, with its spiders in the basement, with its letters scratched in the concrete foundation. It's been here a long time.  I promise it will take care of you.

with love,

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Microblog Monday: Honey Gone Nuts Granola

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

I have been stress eating.

The house needs to be packed up, but we can't pack it up much more because we're living in it.  Students are still having crises.  Our summer vacation plans, meager as they were, have been blown up bit by bit by other commitments: to family reunions, to orientation at my son's new school, to work responsibilities that have cropped up in the middle of July and August that require me to be there when I thought I'd get a week off.  My commute, long though it may be now, when shortened will no longer take me past the fields of horses and cows and alpacas I've grown to love. It's been a long, long time since we took more than a few days' vacation, and it's starting to wear on me.

Mel posted about craving this morning, about how it's not about the food we want but about the experience connected to the food that we're trying to recreate.  In my case, though, I disagree: I think it's purely chemical. Sometimes I crave chocolate cake, and in my more desperate endorphin-seeking moments I make chocolate mug cake.  It's not beautiful, but it serves the purpose.

I've also, oddly, been craving granola.  I used to make cranberry ginger granola, mostly in the winter for Christmas, but two years ago my blogger friend Ilene opened her store Hippie Chick Granola Co., and I rarely bother to make my own any more, because hers was even better, even if I did have to ship it from North Carolina.  Besides, I like supporting a small woman-owned business. And I wanted to order some the other night, but Ilene was in Raleigh pitching to Shark Tank, and even if she were at her ovens in Oak Island, I couldn't get it fast enough.

Kimberly, the baker at my beloved coffee shop (she takes orders) also makes fabulous granola (come to think of it, Ilene and Kimberly would get along very well). Truth be told, I hardly ever buy coffee at the coffee shop; Kimberly also makes the best scones and cake and yeast doughnuts that don't come out of my oven. They sell their granola with yogurt and fresh fruit in a cup that is just the right size to stick in my cupholder so I can eat as I drive to work.  Sadly, this breakfast of the gods costs $4, so it's not an everyday occurrence.

So I bit the bullet, went to the grocery store, channeled Ilene and Kimberly, and hoped for the best.  Both of them taught me (by taste, more than anything else) that salt is key. And that you should dial back on the oats. And that you shouldn't oversweeten your granola.  And that olive oil makes for a light, crispy, even nuttier crunch.

Though I'm sure that I'll still be buying Kimberly's and Ilene's granola, because they are far more talented bakers than I could ever hope to be, the results were satisfactory.  I've been snacking on it since it came out of the oven, and this morning, I heaped it over greek yogurt and apricots, and drove to work with my own container in the cupholder, admiring the fields of buttercups where horses grazed, trying to let the knots in my shoulders go.

Salted Honey Gone Nuts Granola

1 c. hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 c. almonds, slivered
1 c. cashews, coarsely chopped
1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
2 c. oats
generous grind of sea salt (yes, you really need sea salt)
4 1/2 T. olive oil
3 T. honey (or 1 1/2 - 2 T. agave for your vegans out there or people watching your g.i.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare a metal sheet pan by lining it with aluminum foil, lightly oiled.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together with your hands.  Add the honey and oil, toss well to coat.

Pour onto prepared baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned, and cool for a while on the pan, until your self-restraint has evaporated and you must eat some.

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