30 Jan

It’s amazing what you can accomplish with two cheap Ikea rugs.

Last weekend they helped avert a minor disaster.  Isaac and I have been shoveling the driveway upstate instead of hiring a plowing service.  It saves money and is good exercise, but we’re not quite as strong as a plow.  And since this has been an odd winter, with ice storms in between snow storms, our driveway has accumulated a viciously slick layer of ice below the snow.

On Friday, I loaded up Oliver with a bunch of little stuff to go upstate, while Isaac and his sister (who had flown in from Colorado for a mini-break that involved helping us move) packed a rental truck with our dining table and other furniture better suited to life upstate than life in a studio apartment.

I took the Taconic, happily bopping along to the awesome new Raconteurs album, managing somehow to stay on the road as I gawped at hawk after hawk perched ridiculously at the top of the tiniest tree, while the duo in the truck took the Thruway.  Beyond all expectations both vehicles arrived at the house at nearly the same time.  We showed Isaac’s sister around, unloaded and then decided it was time to return the truck.  We wanted to accomplish something other than moving that day.

And then reality kicked in.

We walked outside and looked at the truck.  And its bald, bald tires.  Parked on a sheet of ice.  Isaac jumped in, hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as we feared.  He turned on the truck,  threw it in reverse, revved the engine and our worst fears were confirmed. Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiir… Screech… Thump.  That truck was going nowhere.  I ran back to the car and pulled out two cardboard boxes to put under the back tires as traction.  I jumped into the driver’s seat, then Isaac and his sister started pushing.  No go.  We tried again and again.  Then I sat and thought… Rugs!

I sent Isaac’s sister flying into the house to grab two of the cheap, cheery, stripey Ikea rugs that have become my favorite decorating conceit.  She placed them under the tires, and after a few false starts, a few misguided backing-up-expeditions by yours truly and one run-in with an already downed tree, we finally got the truck down the driveway and onto the road.

But that wasn’t the end of the fun.  Oh no.  Because renting a rental truck is never supposed to be easy.  In convoy formation we drove to the sad little Hudson River town where we were supposed to drop the truck off at a mini-storage site only to be confronted by two of the nastiest women on the face of creation who informed us that, despite there still be a sign and a key-drop box on the premises, they no longer take Budget trucks back.

So they sent us to a location “just over the river,” a statement that would have been true had I not  a. missed the exit and b. gotten us stuck in a massive accident-fueled traffic jam on one of Albany’s many highways.

Hours later, with bellies rumbling we finally got rid of the truck.  It was a moment for joy and celebrating.  A very brief and fleeting moment, made all the quicker by the fact that none of us had eaten lunch and I had skipped breakfast too.  With the sun slowly sliding behind the Empire Plaza, we made a quick escape and a light headed trip to the supermarket.

We grabbed pork and canellini beans, and olives and greens and tomatoes.  And then, after a break for some delicious Haystack Mountain cheese that Isaac’s sister had brought us, I set to pot roasting a big chunk of pork¹, puréeing white beans² and cobbling together an olive and tomato relish³.  We ate dinner at the dining table for the first time ever, next to the fire with a bottle of really good wine.  The pork fell apart with the slightest pressure of our forks.  No knives necessary.  The meal was a little bit of the Mediterranean in upstate New York.  We went to bed tired, sore, happy and well fed.

The rest of the move went smoothly from there, and since then we’ve just been trying to get traction in our new neighborhood while maintaining our insane work schedules.  Every night Isaac asks what I want for dinner, but since I’ve gotten to spend almost no time walking anywhere besides the straight line from our apartment door to the entrance of the subway, I always say, “I don’t know.”   Hopefully this weekend between trips to the old apartment to tidy up and to a couple of stores, I’ll have the chance to just wander about a little.

But only after I buy a few more rugs at Ikea.


¹ Rinse the pork and pat dry.  Coat in your favorite dry rub. I used Chick’n Kick plus a little paprika for color and salt and pepper. (Yes, I know it’s supposed to be for chicken, but it was delicious with pork.)  Sear in a big, oven-proof pot or dutch oven.  Add a big glug of vermouth and some Worcestershire sauce.  Cook covered in the oven at 300°F until tender, about an hour, then remove the lid, turn the heat up to 450°F and roast 10 minutes to form a beautiful, crispy crust.  Allow to sit, covered while you make the pan sauce by adding a little wine, a little bourbon or a little more vermouth to what is left in the pot and cooking until glazey and gorgeous.  Spoon over the pork, slice and enjoy!

² Rinse two cans of white beans and drain.  Put them in a food processor, purée with a clove or two of garlic, lots of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and a few pinches of dried summer savory.  Fry a few sage leaves in olive oil as a garnish.

³ Roughly chop an assortment of your favorite olives and add to a few finely chopped tomatoes.  Combine with a bit of olive oil, a little honey, some savory vinegar (like an aged balsamic or vermouth vinegar), salt and some dried herbs.  Set aside to let the flavors combine and serve over pork and white bean purée.


9 Responses to “Traction”

  1. lucy January 30, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    In your last photo I see a heart, one side more defined then the other, look through the trees do you see it?

  2. altadenahiker January 30, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    I’ll try that recipe once things get cold again out here. I know those Ikea rugs! I have those Ikea rugs! They cover a multitude of canine sins in far too many rooms in my house.

  3. Christina January 30, 2009 at 5:00 pm #

    Gawd, I love that Raconteurs album. It’s been making me and my car very happy.

    You and pork, you always get along so well!

  4. Teri January 30, 2009 at 5:32 pm #

    Ice, snow, ice, snow. Yes, but ice and snow in Central Park equals pure bliss! Welcome to Manhattan!

  5. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) January 31, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    I hope the folks at IKEA are reading this — it would make a wonderful advertising campaign: “IKEA to the rescue!”

  6. ann February 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    Lucy — I do! That’s so cool!

    altadenahiker — Ha! I’m so glad someone else knows them. I just love how they look on wooden floors. So beautiful and cheery. And since they’re so cheap, you can do a different color each season :-)

    Christina — You’re right, pork and I do get along ;-) Fun to think that we’re both rocking out to the same album across the country. Fun!

    Teri — Thanks! Our walk along the rim of the Park today was so wonderful.

    Lydia — Totally! I should call someone about that ;-)

  7. Lucy February 2, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    I also have at least 8 of those rugs, I put them under chairs to keep them from scratching the floor and we also have paved the kitchen door entryway to the house in the mountains. Love them.

  8. Toni February 4, 2009 at 8:55 pm #

    It’s been way too long since I’ve visited your blog, Ann. Each time I do, I find myself smiling and loving everything you’ve written, photographed and cooked. When I start feeling better, this whole menu is happening in my kitchen!

  9. ann February 5, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    Lucy — Me too! I have them everywhere both upstate and downstate. They’re so cheerful and useful.

    Toni — I hope you’re feeling better soon! Glad to make you happy :-)

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