Tag Archives: Semi Homemade

Certainly Not the Last Supper

It’s been a year.

The Country House looks very different than it did a year ago. There are beautifully painted walls, shiny flooring, and plush-though-hard-to-keep-clean carpet. There’s no clutter–mostly because we want to live that way, but also partly because we can’t have personal items on display while the house is on the market.

I didn’t think it was possible that we’d post here less frequently in the second half of the year than in the first six months, but I’m sorry to note that we have. It’s not from lack of interest, or lack of stories to tell, and certainly not from lack of good food. It’s just been awfully busy. Shows and meetings and rehearsals and late work nights followed by early work mornings, and, of course, preparations for our wedding. Even a simple, small wedding takes plenty of preparation.

The last two Dinners at weren’t even cooked at home: perfectly adequate Tex-Mex after we finished cat-sitting duties for friends, and chicken sandwiches and fries from the drive-through that was just about to close after a tumultuous evening of theatre and the re-claiming of a lost wallet. Last night, the Dinnerversary, was leftovers. I don’t think either of us remembered the date. (And the leftovers–Moroccan-spiced skirt steak over hummus, served with warm pita bread, farmer’s-market-fresh grape tomatoes and sliced cucumber–were excellent.)

Skirt-steak and hummus, the first time around.

Skirt-steak and hummus, the first time around.

It’s been a year since that first overcooked burger, a year since she fell asleep on the couch the movers just delivered. Well, it hasn’t been a year since she fell asleep on the couch; that still happens now and again. Burgers get overcooked from time to time, too, but she doesn’t seem to mind. Romance isn’t gone. Good cooking isn’t abandoned. We do what we can with the supplies we have, with the time we have, with the energy we have.

We took a break from commuting and rented an apartment in New York during my busiest month. It was the home of an acquaintance of mine, a composer and music director who was working out of town and visiting his family. That temporary City House was nowhere near as lovely as her former apartment–and certainly not as beautiful as the suburbs were on weekends. Sadly, it wasn’t even as convenient as we hoped it would be. It’s giving us reason to think maybe we shouldn’t move after all. Even if we do, we’ll still update this journal, at least from time to time. Even if we don’t have a Country House, we’ll still have Dinner.

More than Just a Crash Pad (Thai)

The Country House still hasn’t gone on the market. It’s taken longer than we expected to get the insurance companies to decide how much they were going to pay for the water heater accident, which means we haven’t been able to arrange for contractors to come and repair the damage.  Which means the once-beautiful office is now a room we ignore, since it has a bare cement floor, a hole in the wall, and none of the equipment needed to make it a useful space.

But it’s also given us a chance to stop and think about where we really want to be next. I’ve recently accepted offers to work on two projects at The Theatre to Which We Now Have a Deep Emotional Attachment.  They’re both short-term projects, and neither is big enough to support me (let alone us) without other employment as well, but they’re both very worthwhile projects that I’ll enjoy doing. But they’re up here, which means moving down there–into New York City–would make them much less attractive. But she works down there every day, and down there is where many projects I want to be involved with are based. It’s all very complicated.

She pitched a neither-here-nor-there venue from her commute the other morning, a town neither of us knows much about, but which might have exactly what we’re looking for in terms of balancing space, price, and commuting time for each of us. What it wouldn’t have is anything we know. It’s easy to find the best supermarket in an area, and a new favorite Thai restaurant; what’s harder to find are good neighbors and friends.

What I’m really worried about is finding the perfect balance of price, location, and space, and then realizing that we do nothing but sleep there. That doesn’t seem like much will have been gained. So much is up in the air.

But not tonight’s dinner.

After a ridiculous weekend of work for me, and two late nights in NYC with work for both of us, we have determined that there will be Dinner at the Country House tonight.

We watched a Good Eats episode the other day. “Except for the tofu, that looks really good,” she said of the result.

“I thought you didn’t like Pad Thai.”

It turns out it’s just the wide noodles that are often served at Thai restaurants she dislikes. This recipe calls for the very fine ones.

“Well, then.  Wednesday?”

“You can make Pad Thai?”

I don’t know why this surprised her so much. I just hope the result pleases her as much as it will me. I’ve made this recipe many times. I don’t always improvise. It’s a balance of salty, sweet, sour, and savory. Sort of like finding the perfect home. Except the stakes are a little lower: if dinner doesn’t go well, there can be ice cream.

There might be, anyway.

Monkeying Around

On Sunday night, we completed the process of unpacking, sorting, and deciding which kitchen possessions to keep. Many hours after the work began, he held the last item in his hands, trying to decide which of two piles to place it in — those that definitely needed a home within the kitchen, and those that would be placed in a storage bin in the garage.

“How often do you actually use a Bundt pan?”

“Not all that often. I only know one recipe that requires it.”

“When’s the last time you made it?”

“Before I started dating the one who was allergic to butter, cream, and milk chocolate.”

He tossed the avocado-green aluminum pan onto the pile intended for storage and started rearranging mixing bowls, muffin tins, cooling racks, measuring cups, and saucepans, while I described this very simple, barely-home-made dessert. Before I was half-through, he had effortlessly convinced me to bake it for him this week, while vacation left plenty of time for peeling 48 pieces of individually wrapped candies.

He’ll be home from work shortly, and will find this cooling on the stove:

Pull Apart Monkey Bread

Pull-Apart Monkey Bread — a little drier than usual, since I skimped on the butter.

My Sister’s Pull-Apart Monkey Bread

  • 2 canisters of crescent roll dough
  • 48 pieces of chocolate candy (she insists on Hershey’s Kisses, I pick through whatever happens to be in the candy dish)
  • 1/2 cup of cinnamon sugar
  • 1/2 stick of butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a Bundt pan and set it aside.
  3. Open each can of dough and roll out the pieces. Seal the perforations by dampening your fingers and pressing them together. With a pizza cutter or other sharp, smooth blade, slice each can’s worth of dough into 24 square-ish pieces (3 slices lengthwise and 5 slices widthwise).
  4. Place a piece of candy in the middle of each square of dough, and wrap the dough to surround the candy. Toss each piece in the cinnamon sugar to coat it, then place it in the Bundt pan*. Repeat until all of the candy has been wrapped in dough.
  5. Pour the melted butter over the amassed dough balls, then bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until crispy and cooked through.
  6. Place a heat-safe plate over the top of the Bundt pan and invert the pan so that the collected nuggets of doughy goodness drop onto the plate; scrape any loose buttery-cinnamon-sugar sauce over the top. Serve warm.

* I like to place the cinnamon-sugar in a coffee mug; tossing a dough ball into the cup, covering the top with my palm, and swirling it on the counter effectively coats the dough while minimizing mess.