After so many months on lockdown, some people are definitely now finding themselves on the edge of crazy. A few weeks ago my wife and I started doing weekly walks with one of our quartet members, Sandy. Today we got out early to Minuteman National Park and the old North Bridge and Old Manse. It was a glorious, breezy day.
Snapping turtles were out digging nests by the river, birds were singing, and families were out kayaking and canoeing on the river. This is how we escape our COVID-crazies.
Life can take an unexpected turn – over… and over…
Back when Beth and I first bought our house, we knew it was a fixer-upper that required a LOT of fixing up! We had the floors sanded and refinished, totally gutted and rebuilt both bathrooms, ripped up carpeting in the large room, now known as our dining room, and ripped up carpeting in the bonus room over the garage (definitely a bonus at 21 x 23 feet!) which became our bedroom. We also put our own laminate floor and tiling down.
We also started ripping out cabinets, because at the time I was working at a commercial brokerage. I was seeing some nice commission checks come in. One would certainly be enough to cover an expansion of the kitchen by about 8 feet, and all new cabinets, plus hopefully knocking down a wall. Unfortunately, shortly after our wedding, things started to go south at work. My anticipated commission check disappeared when a loan was “closed in the parking lot,” meaning the owners of the company had waived commissions and cut a deal without my knowing, and here we sat with most of our cabinets ripped out, no exhaust fan, and no money to really do much in that room, let alone enlarge it.
But don’t let the small stuff get you down!
I am not a person to get stuck in a down mood. We’d bought these really fun fabric storage bins at Ikea. You know the type, rectangular with cloth handles on the side and they come in all kinds of patterns and colors? Well, I’ve never been one to shy away from bright, so I decided, “if we’re going to have to look at these sorry cabinets for who knows how long, at least they should make us smile when we see them!” I got out my paints, some coffee mugs, bottles, candleholders, and splatter brushes and created our own style of kitchen.
And here we sit more than 10 years later, I left that job in one of the best resignation scenarios ever, I’ve had 3 jobs since then, and still, we have these cabinets. They’re just part of us now. When people come to the house for the first time, it is a bit of a shock! In my condo, I had an entire brilliant yellow wall in my kitchen, splattered with white, pink, turquoise, and green paint. It included paw prints from my Westie, my own handprints, and foam hands and crayons glued along the top as a border. Neighbors used to ring my doorbell asking if their kids could see the kitchen. Since there was a huge slider next to that wall, they’d been able to see it from outside (and watched while it was painted). Most times they’d ask, “Mom can we do that in our kitchen?” The answer was always “No!” So funky cabinets? No big deal for me, really!
Summer weekends near “The Pond”
My crazy kitchen got me thinking about my aunt (yes, the aunt of “a girl’s place is in the kitchen” and my post about Maine) and the recipe she used to make on weekends in the summer. She lived across town from us, over near Martin’s Pond. If you lived over there, you were usually teased at school about being a “Ponderonian,” but I think for many, that was a badge of honor. We loved to visit because we could just walk across the street, and down a sandy right-of-way to a small beach and dock. Sometimes we hung out with the family across the street from my aunt, the Nephews. They had girls around our age, and we’d sit at their house in the evenings, then run back over to my aunt’s house when it was time for dinner.
My aunt had two daughters, one, Paula, who passed away shortly after I was born. Her wake is I think my first memory, very vague and related more to cold wind, and a man in a heavy dark coat and nice hat, and my father leaving the house at night. And the other daughter, Pamela. They were both older than we were. She and I were very close in the 80s and 90s, traveling to Montreal, and up to the White Mountains. We even went to Spain together on a concert tour I did with my chorus. We spent many weekends and evenings shopping, checking out new restaurants, and I am her son’s godmother. But shortly after my father passed away, we all lost touch. But I digress (which is kind of how this blog goes, isn’t it?). So let’s get back to that connection between my aunt and crazy!
Visiting my Aunty Kay
My aunt’s house was a very small half-house. Literally, it looked like a small cape-style home, cut in half to make way for the road that ran past it. It had an eat-in kitchen, a small living room, a bedroom, and a small “front room” that could also be used as a bedroom but was really what most people would consider the “entry way.” It definitely didn’t have room for my siblings and me to run around. So we’d bring a tent to her house, pitch it in her little backyard, and stay out there. She was within earshot in the house, and we could talk to her from the tent when she was in the kitchen.
One weekend my sister, my cousin and I stayed at her house, in the tent. My aunt warned us we were not allowed in the house until she’d fed my uncle and had our breakfast all set up. We lay there in the early morning, smelling food cooking, anxious to start our day, and get down to the beach, and we kept yelling into her to check on timing.
“How much longer Aunty Kay?”
“Now Aunty Kay?
We ended up starting to sing a song we’d made up on the spot:
“Aunty Kay, we’re coming in now, Aunty Kay, we’re coming in now, Aunty Kaaaay we’re coming in now, so fix us up a treat!
That did the trick! Either that, or she was worried the neighbors were going to complain about 3 young girls singing at the top of their lungs. Once we got into the kitchen I noticed a strange mix of ingredients in the frying pan. I asked what it was, and she told me, “Crazy Eggs.” Basically a meal she’d make for breakfast, lunch or dinner, created from what she had on hand. We made it today with what we had on hand, and it was an incredible lunch after our hike.
When you make it, be brave, be creative, and I encourage you to think about color and don’t be afraid to experiment. You may come up with a masterpiece.
Following are the ingredients we used today, but I’m also including alternatives at the end. Use your creativity for sure.
- 1 – 2 TB basil olive oil
- 1 zucchini peeled and sliced
- ½ cup steamed broccoli, chopped
- 2 TB red onions, chopped
- 8 – 10 pickled asparagus spears, cut into slices
- 3 – 4 slices of lean deli roast beef, chopped
- 3 eggs (I used this many for 2 servings)
- ¼ cup half and half
- 2 TB shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 – 2 slices deli provolone
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh dill sprigs
- Fresh Thyme
- Fresh Basil, chiffonade
- Fresh Oregano
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, minced
- Cubed cooked potatoes
- Summer squash
- Sliced sausage
- Chopped tomato (salted and drained on paper towels)
- Cooked ham, cubed
- Any sliced deli meat
- Your favorite hot sauce
- Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add raw vegetables to cook. I usually cover the pan with a lid to assist in the process. Once they are close to done, add in cooked vegetables and meats and stir around.
- Whisk eggs, half and half, and parmesan cheese together until the yolks are broken and just blended. It shouldn’t be totally mixed.
- Once veggies and meats are hot, reduce heat and pour eggs over the veggie mixture and gently move vegetables around until egg mixture has filled in all the gaps.
- Allow to cook without further stirring, but poke around in there to make sure eggs are continuing to move through and cook. It may take 7 – 10 minutes for the eggs to cook fully. Just keep an eye on it. Depending on what else is in your mix, and the size of your pan it may be helpful to add a lid for this step.
- Once things are near done, lay provolone over the top, sprinkle with herbs and cover again with the lid to melt the cheese. Once the cheese is bubbling and hot it’s ready to serve!
Life can get crazy. But if you’re willing to go with it, you may be surprised where it will take you!