I'm really trying to avoid acknowledging that we have one day left in our home, and all the headaches that include themselves in that notion. So, I'll focus instead on how unbearably uncomfortable I am, because I'm full of great ideas like that.
Ignore that grin, it was for posterity only. Why is my belly hanging so low, yanking whatever ab muscles I have down with it? Wah.
I went through our kitchen cupboards last night, trying to organize before the move. I have enough linen napkins for 50 friends, And three bags of lentils. And millet. And singed birthday candles. And my Babcia's recipe box.
I've been stuffing clippings into this box too, and haven't had much of a chance to go through it. It was supposed to be a family movie night, but I turned out to be a missing member. I was settled into the kitchen, going through the plethora of paper, among other things. Things such as a commemorative pin of Pope John Paul the II. Or, a photo of my Uncle Ben as an adorably chubby two year old. It was sincerely overwhelming.
I looked at my own recipes, not expecting any nostalgia, but it was there anyway. A recipe for spicy pecans that I used to woo Aaron with when we were just starting out. My Magic Pretzels that have become a Christmas Gift tradition. Baby food recipes from when Claudia was refusing to eat with a spoon.
One of the greatest gifts I ever received was a handwritten book of recipes from a friend. She spent hours going through her own favourites to make them into my own, no doubt enduring finger blisters along the way. There is something so special about seeing a recipe written out by its owner. Oily finger prints and splatters of batter make them even more so.
The recipe from above is for Krusta, a flaky fried cookie that gets dusted with icing sugar. The only word I understand in there is Wudky - which is Vodka. But, I know the recipe all too well, having spent many years by Babcia's side, helping her make it. I knew that she trusted me as a cook when she let me roll the cookies out to an appropriate thickness and fry them until they were perfect. It's a good memory.
My Christmas wish was a simple one, in theory. I asked my Mom to track down my favourite ever condiment and ship it our way. After visiting every Italian grocer in the city of Hamilton, she gave up. Sold her left leg to the Mafia and they found her not one, but two jars of the spicy stuff. 6-8 weeks later it arrived on our doorstep. The first jar was gone in a flash, literally a week. I missed the flavour so much I was putting it on everything. Oatmeal with spicy artichokes and red peppers? Sounded good to me.
With the second jar, I've taken my time. Sparingly, lovingly, I've rationed this sucker out to the bitter end. It needs to last me until Tuesday evening, after which our kitchen cupboards will be bare. Tonight I used it to finish off the quickest, most simply delicious meal you can cook up.
Grab a box of your favourite fresh pasta. We went with a mushroom and truffle ravioli type pasta. Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. While you wait for that to heat up, chop two scallions into thin slices and grate more parmesan cheese than is necessary. In a saute pan, melt 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter and then add a splash of your favourite flavoured oil. We received a bottle of truffle oil a while back and, used sparingly, it adds a really interesting flavour that is hard to describe without sounding like a pretentious um, truffle eater.
Add your scallions and about a tablespoon (more or less) of La Bomba to the pan. Add your pasta to the boiling water and watch it carefully. It should be fully cooked in about two minutes. Drain and quickly add it to the pan with your butter. Throw the parmesan over the top and lightly swirl in the pan to coat. I don't dare stir it because the ravioli will rip apart. Divide between two plates and finish with any remaining pan sauce and an extra sprinkle of parmesan. Dig in.
Claudia has become a budding blog nerd. Every day she asks, "Can I work on my entry??" And then bats her lashes and clasps her hands together, ever so sweetly. Here is tonight's stream of consciousness.
My chocolate is very yummy. And very sweet.
I got it from Carnival, and that's not very funny. Well, just chewed up it's not very funny.
But Carnival is the funniest day in the land.
This is a funny funny entry.
But mittens are funnier.
(Can you tell that she's currently high on chocolate?)
My moon chocolate looks very cute. I liked Carnival a lot, especially when I got moon chocolate, chocolate coins and a postcard with chocolate on it.
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
I'm not against celebrating Valentine's Day. Even when I was very alone, clutching a Valentine from a 3 year old, I didn't hate Valentine's. Oh, and in the 6th Grade I bought a card from the only gift shop in town, Townsend's Pharmacy, to give to my boyfriend of one week. He broke up with me instead. (Still didn't hate Valentine's.)
If I grumble about the day, it's only because I'm dead lazy. And getting more so by the year. The first Valentine's Day that Aaron and I shared, I bought him an assortment of spices, the hotter the better. All packaged up with a pretty red bow. He gifted me with a stone heart, a heart of stone, if you will. I still have this stone, complete with cracks endured over the years, and love it.
Anyway, if you're anything like me, you will appreciate this rapid fire Valentine's Day gift. A quick stop at the corner store and a mini raid of your kid's craft drawer, and you're set. Make sure you give it to your loved one half way through the day. That way, when they realize you were only joking when you said you didn't want to acknowledge the holiday, they still have time to run out and buy butter for the dinner they're going to cook you and a bouquet of tulips on the way out. (My favourite.)
You will need:
1 sheet each, red & black construction paper
A piece of pipe cleaner
3 Rolo or Daim bars
- Wrap each rolo bar in red construction paper, cut to size.
- Affix your label, with message, to a strip of the black construction paper.
- Wrap that around your three sticks of dynamite. I used a bit of tape to hold the three sticks together.
- Put a piece of pipe cleaner in the centre of your three bars, add some stickers if you fancy doing so, and ...
- You're done!
Around 3 pm on Tuesday I realized that is was that most special of Tuesdays. The fattest and most pancakey Tuesday of them all. I remembered my entire elementary school sitting at long tables heaving under the weight of thousands of pancakes. And the smell of syrup and brown butter. I had planned on French Lentil Salad, but once those big, fluffy, buttery, sweet pancakes entered my brain, there was no other way.
Tara's Buttermilk Pancakes
Mix your dry ingredients together.
In a separate bowl, whisk your egg and oil together and add to the buttermilk. (I whisked my egg white separately and folded it in at the end, but this is optional.)
Stir together with your dry ingredients until there are no lumps. Let sit for at least ten minutes.
Heat a non stick pan over med/low heat. Add a pat of butter to melt. Add about a 1/4 cup of your mixture for each pancake. Flip when the entire surface is covered in bubbles. Fry the other side for a couple more minutes.
Keep warm in the oven while you make up the rest of the batter.
Serve with copious amounts of butter and syrup.
I'm just realizing that we've been in Germany for a decent amount of time. This was the second Carnival that we've been a part of. It's like, our thing. We started planning the girls costumes a while ago, made plans for the parade and shouted "Karmelle!" around the city to have bon bons thrown at us. Claudia is becoming all too aware that each experience we have here is probably the last, so I have a bit of a heavy heart. Carnival is a celebration though, and we made the absolute most of it.
Claudia requested a car costume and we one upped her and made it a clown car. Despite appearances, the blazing Mercedes symbol is actually the steering wheel. I think some things have just entered our subconsciousness.
Eloise and her best friend. They adore each other and have already made their own plans for him to run away to Scotland with us. Add this to the reasons for a heavy heart.
These insane faces, and the February weather, are damn good reasons to be off your face drunk during the parade. Which, unfortunately, we were not.
Aaron the Dragon, as envisioned by his eldest daughter. With Eloise shouting for candy. Her and Claudia were as successful as armed bandits.
Now it's Lent. Right? Luckily I'm pregnant, so my vices aren't really present at the moment, so I don't have much to give up. This lapsed Catholic might make her mark yet! As for the rest of the brood, I'm sure they'll enjoy their Bandit's Bounty.
For a while now, Claudia has been asking to do an entry of her own. I will play the part of diction writer. Here is her story, in her own words:
So finally she gets to do it. And she will love it forever and ever. Thank you Mommy. I really love you. For making my own entry. And I should thank you because you're letting me, that's why.
My stuffed animals, I really love them. Especially Puppy, Lamby and Soft Lamb. My favourite one of them is Puppy. And another one, from Grandma Theresa, Grandma Bear. And my one Pete the Cat, I really love him too, because that one was from my best friend, Christine.
I like to cuddle them and move them around. Sometimes I do tricks with them. Sometimes I don't. But anyway, they're very, very fun. They're great for me to play with.
I also like to take pictures of them.
On Monday we will sign the lease. To a granite farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Which turns out to be in Scotland.
Aaron starts his position at the University. We will have a baby. The girls will get picked up by a bus and wear uniforms to school. I will plant a garden and watch it grow.
That's the plan anyway.
In the meantime I, and we, will say goodbye to Germany as our home. To our beautiful apartment and the bakery in the square. To chocolate and cappuccinos on the daily. To cobblestone streets and castle gates. To Anna, her scuffed dining table, and the family that sits around it.
Goodbye to the kindergarten that we bring our kids to every morning. Who taught the girls to be more patient, less fussy, and a second language. Goodbye to first cuddles and stolen mittens and embarrassed tears.
Goodbye to German rail, the autobahn, and my Mercedes bus. Goodbye to my fellow bike riders on the Promenade. Goodbye to seemingly infinite travel.
Goodbye to the market and the food, food, food, food. To the fried egg on fried potato. To the beer that runs cheaper than water. With a mountain of foam that is a delicacy in its own right.
Goodbye to the family that helped to make my own. That lives by a river that once was Her home. To the memory of sweet smelling carrots.
Goodbye to the doctors. My appendix in the trash. To monthly ultrasounds so I could spy on our baby. To the osteopathy sessions that bordered on adultery. I will never forget you.
You can keep your language, your line busting population, your no nonsense approach. For those things, I will not miss.
Thank you for taking us out of our comfort zone and helping our family to grow. We're closer than we've ever been. And we'll need that for our next adventure.