February 16, 2001
A Shopping We Will Go, A Shopping We Will Go
We had our list of what we needed for the apartment. We are in that nesting phase where we want to buy things for the household; things that were not here already or inadequately supplied. I was so excited about access to money; I was on the verge of drooling. It has been close to a year since I have done any real shopping. The thought that it would be put in storage or sold was not a great incentive to explore the stores. Now, it was possible once again.
We went to a bank machine close to the new apartment on the way to the subway. It is one of those that you have to slide your card in a magnetic reader in order to gain access. I slid my card and yanked the door. It would not budge. Another swipe and a yank provided the same results. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see a woman behind me waiting to access the building too and there were three machines inside, waiting to spit out money if only we could get in. One more swipe and one more yank still proved fruitless, until the young woman flew around me and pushed the door open for me. I was over anxious, what can I say? The nice machine did give me money. I kissed it “thank you”.
Off to Ikea, the land of wonder for the frugal shopper, we headed. They are building yet another newer Ikea, but of course it is where no public transportation lines have been established yet, so it is fruitless for us. Grabbing our big yellow Ikea shopping bags, we walked through the displays with wonderment in our eyes. All this good stuff for sale and we have money! We bought storage containers, candles, new hand towels, a couple of good bath towels since Myrtis and Randall are coming for a weekend, a set of large glasses, a tester bed pillow, and a bunch of other goodies for our home. The daughter had not shown up with the other bed pillows she promised and I cannot sleep on the pillow that is here. It is the thickness of a mouse pad and if you fold it up to scrunch it, it is like sleeping on folded cardboard. Besides all of the wonderful things we carted to the cash register, we saw lots of other things that we wanted to return for, like a plastic cutting board. Our bags were so full, that I was panicked that we did not have enough money. When we checked out the subtotal shows as they ring things up and all that we acquired did not take a half of the money that I withdrew.
Ron insisted on bringing all of this stuff home first, but he was agreeable to continue shopping. The next stop was one of the malls. We had gone to this mall a few weeks ago and scoped it out. There was a store there that had men’s shirts on sale and I was hoping they still did. We went directly to this store like homing pigeons and the shirts were still on sale. One shirt was $22.00 or you could buy two for $34.00. We found four that we liked. It is sickening to see us in the same clothes over and over, plus the less you have the more they need to be washed and the faster they will wear out. I was a happy camper.
This load was dropped off at the apartment and the next stop was to do grocery shopping. Being it was Saturday, the stores outside of the malls close early. We went to our local supermarket, which is only a block away, and it closed at 3:00. We walked two blocks in the other direction and found the same thing at that supermarket. We knew of one little market that was open until 6:00 on Saturday, so we jumped on a tram and went there. As we were going, Ron asked what I was hungry for, for dinner. I responded to my surprise as much as his, that I would like meatloaf and I would cook it. There was an ‘if’ clause. I had to be able to find breadcrumbs first. Since that seemed like an impossibility, there was no chance of it for dinner. Ron suggested we get stale bread and bake it, to which I replied and then we can throw it in the food processor and laughed.
We entered the supermarket, which is really a misnomer for this store. It is barely larger than a convenience store, but they pack a lot into it. Just as we walked in there was a display case with Shop-Rite brand cooking spray, a generic PAM. We laughed over this since I had just told Ron a couple of nights ago that that is what we needed most from the States. He is the King of baked on food. He is the only one that I know who can make Teflon coated pots and pans into a three day soaker, before they get clean. The other funny part about this is Shop-Rite with the same logo is the grocery store that I worked at for two years as a teenager. This must have been their imported food shelving since there were assorted Asian products in Asian languages and right underneath them were Italian flavored breadcrumbs. Who would have ever thought breadcrumbs could excite you?
The next challenge was finding ground beef and there was none to be found. They did have ground pork. I remember reading in a cookbook back in the days when I did read them, that meatloaf is supposed to be equal parts of ground beef, veal, and pork. In the absence of the other two, why not just pork? We decided to try it. If it was too fatty, I would skim it. There were no fresh vegetables, so we opted for frozen broccoli and instant mashed potatoes. At least we hoped they were mashed potatoes, by the packaging. It looked different from the last instant mashed potatoes we needed.
We went home and I was about to make dinner. The ground meat mixed with the breadcrumbs and eggs was all formed and nicely shaped sitting in a pan baking in the oven. The oven only has single digit numbers for temperatures, not 325, 350, etc., but it does have a built in timer. Ron went for a nap and I set myself down at the kitchen table to read. When the time went off at 50 minutes, I started the broccoli and potatoes. The directions on the potato package were in Hungarian and English, thankfully. At least I was thankful for a moment. The quantities were still a mystery to me. How much is 4.5 dl of water that needs to boil? We have a measuring cup, but there is nothing with dl’s on them. Yell to Ron, “Hey, Ron what is a dl?” Foggy from waking from his nap, he yells back. A bottle of beer is 5 dl, but I don’t know what it stands for.”
With that tidbit of knowledge, I took a bottle of beer out of the fridge. Sure enough, it was 5 dl. So, I emptied the bottle of beer into a glass and washed it out. Then I refilled it to where the top of the beer once was and emptied what I guessed was .5 from there. I had the water boiling, now I had to do the same thing for the milk. Getting 3dl was a bit trickier, but we had mashed potatoes with the meatloaf, which was delicious if I do say so myself. This was our first meal in our new apartment at a kitchen table in the kitchen.
While sitting in the kitchen reading, it occurred to me that this was the first time that I have had a separated kitchen room since I lived in Philadelphia. Since then, the kitchen had been too small for a table and chairs or it was part of the dining area and family room. Now we had a kitchen. The kitchen has always been like the heart of a home for me. This is the comfort zone, the area where people cozy around the table and talk, snack, and really pour their hearts out. Some of my life’s most memorable conversations took place around a kitchen table and not always my own. There is informality about sitting around a kitchen to talk that is different than a living room conversation. Living rooms distance people regardless of how close you sit together, but hunkering over a table in the kitchen lends itself to intimacy. That is where I want to be on a cold day with the snowflakes lazily falling from the sky and the smells of home baked bread finishing its browning touches in the oven.
It is nice to nest!