Saturday, July 23, 2005

There's no place like home! Repeat 3 times and pass me a tortilla .

If I had a pair of ruby red slippers, I'd give them to Frank to wear.  Not because he's nursing a secret compulsion to dress in glittery, spangled shoes, but so I could help hasten the closing process on his newly built condo.  As with any first time buyer of a new home, his frustration level has been slowly increasing since, oh, mid-April.  Not that the condo was supposed to be finished in April, but Frank has been wishing it was completed since then. 

Most of you know he's been officially homeless since the first of July, when all his belongings went into storage.  He stayed with me a few nights before housesitting for a week.  Then bounced around between a few other homes before coming back to mine for the past week or so.  I haven't gotten a good idea of what it would be like to live with him since he's been on call all week.  Scratch that...I've gotten a great idea of what it would be like to live with him while he's on call.  He doesn't get home before I'm already in bed.  Other than that, I don't have a good frame of reference of what it would be like to live with him when he's not on call.  I'd like to imagine it's just like when we're spending time together, only with sleeping involved.  Sleep.  We've had some issues with getting comfortable enough to fall asleep.

I thought we'd have no trouble falling asleep even though both of us are used to sleeping alone.  No problem, I thought.  I like to snuggle.  Um. Yeah, no.  I get hot.  Not as in Mae West/Bette Davis "come up and see me sometime/it's gonna be a bumpy night" hot but creeping from nice cozy touch to a little too wam to a flat out hot flash, generating enough BTU's to power a third world country, full on heatilating.  So the first moments of falling asleep are consumed by the need to feel cool and comfy.  Although, when I'm asleep I must not register temperature.  It seems I slide over in my sleep until I'm touching the person in bed with me either with my fingertips, elbow, knee or foot.  So the lesson here is if you're sleeping next to me, claim your fair share of the bed upon arrival into it.  And feel free to nudge me to roll over.  I'm still not sure we're entirely past the "why can't I fall asleep?" gremlins, but Frank will be gone on a business trip for a week and upon return will (cross your fingers) finalize the paperwork on the condo and collect the keys.  Not that I want him out of my place, but he's so ready to be in his very own home.

Other than the sleeping issues, I've enjoyed having someone else in my apartment.  It would have been even better if Frank could've been home for meals, since I have been deep in the throes of a cooking urge all week.  I've had some fantastic meals without him.  He did get the benefit of leftovers yesterday when I packed his breakfast and lunch.  I sent him off with a PB&J on wheat and a container of calabasita with corn tortillas.

Calabasita is one of those childhood memory foods.  Mom would make it using Mexican squash, also called Tatuma, grown in our garden from seeds her father had given us.  To me, anything my grandfather gave us must be ethnic.  (This is the abuelo who would sign our cards "Grandpo", using the masculine "o" ending for Spanish language words.)  The first time I saw calabasa in the grocery store under it's other name I had an irrational surge of irritation, even though the word calabasa translates simply to squash, not the actual variety of squash I associated it with.  Mom would cut up pork steaks and brown them with a little salt, pepper, comino and a touch of garlic.  While the meat was browning, she'd add chunky pieces of calabasa and about half of a can of corn.  After adjusting the seasonings, Mom would let it cook until the squash was transparent but not falling apart.  We'd make tacos with corn tortillas, usually taking turns flipping the tortillas on the comal.  Simple but so delicious that we'd savor every bite.  My only variation was to make it a little healthier by using center cut pork loin chops instead of the fattier pork steaks.  I admit, the extra fat does make it taste richer, but my version was close enough to the original recipe.

Once Frank closes on his condo I'll have a new kitchen to create in.  I can only hope that my cooking will someday evoke fond memories for someone.  I know it has for me, thinking back over dinners made in Vicki's kitchen, sushi parties thrown at Corrie's, cooking up a storm in Frank & Jessee's old condo and the pizza making lesson at Leslie & Tanya's.  Maybe hosting family dinner night at my apartment would be a good idea.  It would certainly add a feeling of stability and comfort to my home life.  After almost 14 months of never having anyone over to my apartment, Frank has been a welcome addition.  Once he's in his new place I should press on, continue to make my apartment feel like a home by filling it with good friends and good food.  I can dust off some of the recipes that haven't been made in a while, like my roast chicken, shrimp & crawfish etouffe and 'marry me meatloaf' and make some memories. 


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Juliabohemian said...

I used to work for SBC and every single paper we touched had something like that stamped on it - we called it "proprietary information"

Twin Kim said...

Yum, yum, childhood comfort food! I still yearn for grape jelly and butter when my first flour tortilla comes off the comal. As dessert was a special occasion, the jelly tortilla often provided a sweet and satisfying substitution.

It's weird, but another comfort food for me is okra gumbo, a misnomer as it is actually stewed tomatos and okra with onions and loads of bacon grease. Up here in the middle North, I can't get good okra often but when I do, I whip up a batch of okra gumbo. To my secret delight, no one else in the family shares my okra addiction.

If the kids bad mouth my dish, they are given a tablespoon of it and must clean their plates. If they keep their mouth shut and avoid okra name calling and comments about slime/snot, they are not compelled to join me in my side dish. Usually, they remember not to "dis Mama's cookin'" and thus avoid having to eat my favorite food. Hee hee, I get to savor it all myself!

Kaya said...

Yeah, I emailed my blog in from a work addy and forgot about the HIPAA statement that automatically gets added. I tried to edit it off but keep getting error messages so I'm just gonna leave it on there. Next time I won't email it in from that address.

Kaya said...

The Wonder Twin is so much nicer to her kids than our parents were to us. We had to eat what was cooked regardless of whether we liked it or not.

In the Year Of The Ginormous Garden we ate peas almost daily. Not those sweet green English peas but field peas, black eyed peas, purple hull peas and butterbeans. I started covering mine with ketchup since I was beginning to hate the taste. I do like good peas now, but I rarely, if ever, eat them.

Now a butter & jelly tortilla, that's some good eating! And a bowl of chicken & dumplings with the dumplings not the drop biscuit-y type but made of flour tortilla dough. The dumplings were long, wide strips and oh so good. A warm, buttered flour tortilla to dunk in the bowl was, to my mouth, the gateway to heaven.