Dear Friends: Thank you for your positive feedback on my previous post, as well as your constructive criticism. Of course, the latter sounded a lot like plain old complaining, but I can appreciate that a request for more, even when a little whiny, is inherently flattering.
I’m glad you enjoyed the writing and the recipe, and I’m sorry that you felt teased by the description of our new house that was accompanied by photos of pears in our old Brooklyn apartment, which all of you no longer care about. The crowd has spoken, and I have heard you. Even though this is a cooking blog, I can be flexible. You want to see the new digs, huh? This is logical. I get it. I do.
It really has been fun to sink our teeth into things like home furnishings. Or rather, to shop for home furnishings, then come home to sink our teeth into butternut squash lasagna with caramelized onions and spinach. In other words, this whole domestic life is definitely agreeing with us.
One of the things I found most frustrating about living in New York City was that it could be very difficult to entertain at home when your kitchen is the size of an airplane lavatory and your table seats four, uncomfortably. Okay okay—yes, we were among the lucky few who happened to have outdoor space in New York, but to eat on our little deck, you needed to carry your food through the bathroom. And you know, there was always just something a little unappetizing about that.
Here in Raleigh, the house is being slowly colonized by furniture, and last weekend we finally felt we were in a place to invite our first dinner guests over. A colleague of John’s from work, David, and his wife, Maria Clara, both of whom also relocated from New York, came over on Friday night to see the place and eat some good food. Now, I have to say that, with regards to the former, it’s kind of nice having a pass when it comes to fixing up the house for company. What do I mean by this? I mean that people totally understand when your dining room table doesn’t actually have chairs. That everyone has to carry in his or her own chair from the kitchen. That good ambience is created by unscrewing a few light bulbs from the overhead lighting fixture and putting a lamp on that stack of packing boxes in the corner. That stack of packing boxes? Oh, it’s filled with books we haven’t unpacked yet because we have no bookcases. All of which is met with nods of benevolent understanding because, of course, well, you “just” moved in.
(How much more time until we can no longer get away with this excuse? Don’t answer that because I don’t want to know.)
With regard to the latter reason for having David and Maria Clara over—the good food—this was the fun part. For someone who loves to cook, cooking for others is one of life’s necessities. It’s like a muscle you yearn to use. Without the opportunity to use it, you die. Okay, maybe not, but you crave the satisfaction and the exhaustion that the creation of good food made for other people brings.
Besides all that, I was so excited to socialize with real other people!
I spent all day cooking, preparing both the above mentioned lasagna and a pear and Manchego salad, along with a flourless chocolate layer cake (yes, a post on this ridiculously decadent cake is forthcoming). And WOW. Just wow. All I can say is that taking on serious cooking projects in this kitchen (which one? This one:
Yep, that one. See what I’m doing here? You’re welcome.) Where was I? Oh right: Taking on serious cooking projects in that kitchen is so infinitely easier than cooking in a veritable airplane restroom, I cannot express it in words. In New York we used to keep our silverware in flower pots because we didn’t have drawers. So, you get the idea that this is a nice change.
The evening went perfectly. We absolutely loved having David and Maria Clara over, and I think it’s safe to say that we’ve made two new friends. But of course, as I’ve noted on this blog before, having people over is exhausting, and after they left, we both collapsed on this couch:
We didn’t have much time to rest up, however, because the next day, my good friend Mireille would arrive to stay for the night while passing through Raleigh on her way home for Thanksgiving. The good thing was that I had made enough butternut squash lasagna and chocolate cake to feed everyone south of the Mason Dixon Line. So food preparation was all taken care of.
Not that I was worried because I knew Mireille would be an easy houseguest. She was a delight to have, and I think she was delighted by the house. She even got her own room, although this was under the condition that she agreed to share the bed with this handsome guy:
Luckily, Mireille enjoys Joel and this was not a problem.
By Sunday night, Mireille had continued on, and we had the house to ourselves again. After a dinner of three-day old lasagna, (if you know anything about lasagna, you know that this is the absolute BEST kind) and chocolate cake, followed by an episode of Homeland, John was cleaning up, and went looking for the vacuum. (By the way, here I’ll pause to note that one of the things about my husband that I appreciate most is his inclination to vacuum. I have an aversion to this chore so strong it baffles even me.)
“Oh,” I called to him down the hallway. “I just remembered I put the vacuum in Mireille’s room.”
“Mireille’s room?” John asked. I smiled because it was funny, but I really did feel like that room was Mireille’s, because it hadn’t been anyone’s room before then.
So there you have it. A glimpse of our new house and a little snippet of our new life, as requested. It’s almost like you’re right here with us, you know? Of course, while I very much appreciate your interest from afar, please know that you have to come visit us to get your very own room. Mireille: Until then, it’s all yours.*