Is it over already?? My cousin Aubrey came to visit last week, and it went by entirely too quickly. The first day, we took Grace to school, and of course, Gracie was thrilled to show off her school. Once we were down to the one child, we headed off to the mansions, where we took a tour of the Astors’ Beechwood, the living history mansion in which the tour guides pretend that it’s 1891 in the house, and the tourists are visitors invited to Mrs Astor’s party the next day. I’d taken one tour already, but this was a new tour, it being during the season. So that was fun! Then it was off to the base so Aub could have a tour of Kurt’s work. She cracked me up, though. She was amazed I could get on base with my “secret pass” — being my military ID card, and when the watch-stander on the quarterdeck of Kurt’s work waved me in once I announced whose wife I was, she was even more amazed. I have to say, it does have a certain mystique about it, and I was pretty impressed they let me in too. Usually I have to wait to be escorted.
That night we went to dinner with my friend, which was followed by a screening of Julie and Julia. I loved the parts with Julia Child, but the bits with Julie Powell…. well. It wasn’t inspiring, let’s just say. If they could have made an entire movie of the chemistry between Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) and her husband Paul, I would have loved it so much more. But it was still a good diversion.
On Friday we sort of stayed quiet and made our way to Target in the afternoon after a delicious lunch at one of the best places for seafood here in Newport. Dinner was more seafood — Scallops in Spicy Red Sauce. It was so, so yummy! I tried my best to stuff Aubrey full of scrumptious seafood while she was here, since she lives in central Pennsylvania, far away from the coast. She couldn’t get enough! Yum.
But then she had to go back home again on Saturday. We were worried she’d get stuck in the hurricane, and she needed to be present at a family lunch the next day. My grandparents celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary, and several people were coming into town to celebrate. It was such a nice visit, though, that I didn’t want it to end. Aub is the cousin I know the best, she being just two years younger than me, and living in the same town as my grandparents meant that I saw her every time we went up for a visit. And I have to say, she was the one that made me feel as though I were truly part of the family when my parents were married. I remember when we came up for a visit, not long after my parents’ wedding, and stopped by my aunt and uncle’s house as soon as we made it into town. I had hardly exited the van when I was bowled over by a small, brunette ball of energy screaming my name. My six-year-old self thought, “Wow, she really does love me.” I had arrived, baby.
Today it’s back to the grind. Kurt’s work is getting insane, and all I can do is sit back and shake my head. After getting to work at 7am (possibly earlier — I am not conscious that early in the morning), he didn’t arrive back home again until almost 8pm. And there was no lunch for the poor guy. He got to go running instead. Fun, fun, fun.
Too bad for him! He almost didn’t make it home in time for dinner. He arrived right after Grace and I sat down to eat our delicious Bulgarian Red Pepper Stew, which had made the house smell so very deliciously all day long. First it was the homemade vegetable stock simmering away most of the afternoon, and then it was the stew which made the house so aromatic for an hour and a half. Yum!!
I knew I wanted to make something with lentils for dinner, so I consulted my new cookbook, courtesy of my friends who’d come to visit last week — Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant. The Bulgarian Red Pepper Stew was the only thing I had most of the ingredients for, except the red peppers. So it was off to the grocery store for me.
And here’s where I start to live dangerously. The commissary is closed on Mondays, which meant I had to go to the regular grocery store. It’s always a treat for me. Finally I get to see how normal people shop, even if I can’t afford the prices. The shelves look so fancy, full of new products that I’ve never seen before. There are a million different types of everything, not just a few variations here and there. Anything I could possibly want, it’s there. And it’s there all the time, not just the day after the commissary is stocked. It’s such an amazing thing.
I know that sounds a little odd, but while the commissary is a great deal, it’s not the most convenient at times. Food is moving towards more ethnic and unusual cuisines, and since we’re adventurous eaters, I want to go that way as well. But I can’t find the ingredients at the commissary. I was shocked to find that I could get pancetta and proscuitto at the commissary — I’m almost positive that’s a new thing for them. I have a feeling I’ll be cooking more Italian food as a result. I’m an avid coupon clipper, and most of the coupons are for the newest products to get you to try them. I don’t even bother cutting those coupons out anymore; it takes a good six months before we will get the new products at the commissary.
Most of the time I don’t mind. I’d rather pay the cheaper prices at the commissary and have a little extra money in my pocket. And besides, do we really need the option between eight different brands of peanut butter and four different consistencies? Do we really need gallon upon gallon of bleach on the store shelves, to give us the illusion of plenty? It made me wonder, when I saw things lined up so prettily at Target, how long those cleaning products (and the food at the grocery stores) stay on the shelves. Or does it just sort of sit there until it expires, and the supermarket stockboys throw it out? What happens to the always-full bread aisles, if day-old bread can’t be sold as fresh? I know we Americans like choice, but at what cost?
At least at the commissary I know things will be sold. I’ve seen the empty shelves too often to know that there must be relatively little waste. I think I’ll stick with my less-than-always-convenient commissary, thanks.