Sunday, September 9, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Friday was a good day at work. I successfully defended two motions for summary judgment on behalf of my client in a complex business litigation matter in which I am involved. A loss on these motions would have effectively precluded my client from pursuing upwards of $750,000.00 in damages against the defendants. Needless to say, our win has a significant impact on the case.

After oral argument, I decided to take my husband to lunch. The subject of “marketing” as in ‘going to the grocery store and buying food’ came up. I admit I have no idea how to shop at the grocery store, despite the advice I’ve read in Sunset Magazine or Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home. Planning a menu for the entire week is not only difficult, but unrealistic because inevitably, we spend at least two to three nights eating out due to working late, my husband will have a meeting with his Cricket team and won’t be home for dinner, or I lose interest in the creative dinner menu I selected three days earlier. In short, the food ends up going bad, getting freezer burn and ultimately thrown out. I can’t stand throwing away food particularly when I read stories like this morning’s front page article in the Los Angeles Times on Zimbabweans flooding South Africa because they are starving for food. As a result, I end up going to the market a lot. Not fun.

This past week, we returned from a three-week trip traveling through Southern France and Northern Spain. I went to the market the day after our return. I bought groceries for breakfast (which usually seems to last a little longer), fish, pasta and vegetables for my Summer favorite: Gazpacho soup. I also bought peppers and sea salt so that we can try to make the delicious pintxos we had in San Sebastian. Perhaps I was a little too focused on the pintxos, but I bought enough groceries to cover at least two dinner menus.

Apparently, my marketing didn’t quite cut it. Two days later, my husband tells me he is going to the market. Surprisingly, that stung quite a bit! In the past this would not have bothered me. Go get it yourself, right?! But my feelings are different now. I’m trying really hard to create our “home” and him telling me he was going to the market, after I had just gone, felt like I failed.

I decided to go with him. We walked up and down each aisle. I watched him pick and choose what he wanted (hoping to glean what it is I should be buying). He selected two jars of jam (we already have three in our pantry and I had purchased another one on my shopping trip two days earlier), two loaves of bread and English muffins (he didn’t like the wheat variety I selected two days earlier), two bottles of dishwashing soap (we already have two in our pantry) and so on and so forth. He also selected a few items that I just totally forgot when I was at the market the other day.

I came away from the experience realizing that we are just different people. I don’t know if it is a male vs. female thing. Whatever it is, apparently I’m still shopping for one person and he shops for a family of five. Does this ever get any easier? I’ll keep reading.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Getting Started

Domestic Goddess I am not. I am a 36-year old attorney, recently married and happily, but clumsily, embracing (on a part time basis) my long-desired ability to begin “nesting.” About a year after my now husband and I “shacked up” I decided that harmony in our life and home would only be achieved by finding a proper work/life balance. As such, I did what many other women in my profession are doing in their mid-thirties: I left the grind of billing requirements and “firm life” to work for myself, at home and to cut down my hours.

I moved from my rented apartment in San Francisco to my husband’s home in Southern California. The house is a 75-year old ranch-style home designed by architect Cliff May and sits on 3 beautiful acres. He purchased our home in 2000 and had completed quite a bit of work on the property before I moved in. I was incredibly excited to finally begin nesting. What I didn’t know and still don’t know is a lot. In short, while I may have a knack for designing an 850 square foot apartment, a 5,000 square foot home is another story particularly, where I am now trying to appease two very different interior design sensibilities.

In addition, I’ve spent the better part of the last 15 years eating take out, cereal or appetizers at a bar. I’ve always loved to cook, but getting home late, being alone or going out for drinks after work didn’t inspire me to delve into Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In fact, the first time I even heard of the book was two years ago, when my husband bought it for me as a Christmas gift. (Was that supposed to be a hint?) Moreover, (and I apologize in advance for the cliché ) me in the kitchen is kind of like a bull in a china shop. As a child, I loved to cook. I would experiment all the time. However, I would also burn things all the time. After several calphalon casualties, my mom ultimately had to cut me off from using her pots and pans and bought me my own small frying pan. Everything I made from that day forward was cooked in that single pan. My mother on the other hand is a beautiful cook. We grew up on pasta, casseroles, fresh vegetables and grilled meats and fish. She was and still is always cooking and her pans are never burned.

Even now, as I start to hone in on my domesticity, I am still burning things. Two days ago, I decided to make a fig tart that I saw in the August 2007 issue of Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. I schlepped through the Third Street Farmer’s Market in Los Angeles to find black mission figs, vanilla beans and (whole) star anise. Never mind the fact that I bought dried black mission figs figuring it wouldn’t make a difference. (Do you see where this story is going?) Anyway, I bought all of the millions of ingredients that the recipe calls for, none of which I have on reserve in my pantry. (I now have ruby port in my pantry.) I returned home and made the crust, a pâte sucrée, with no problem. I then preheated the oven and endeavored to “roast” the (dried) figs. Seriously. They were supposed to roast for 45 minutes. I set the oven timer for 25 minutes, at which point I opened the oven and basted the figs. I closed the oven and set the timer for the remaining 20 minutes. Everything was going well until I decided to check my E-mail.

My computer is located out of the main part of our house, across a courtyard and in what was originally a garage but is now our home office. An hour later, I looked up from my computer and remembered the figs. I went running into the kitchen. My dried figs had been “candied” like a Jolly Rancher. Fortunately, it was Thursday, the one day a week we have housecleaner to come in and help out. I dumped the figs in the trash, left the Pyrex soaking in the sink and went to work. The funny thing is, my idea of remedying the situation is not to stay in the kitchen when things are baking or roasting, but to install another router near the kitchen so that I can work on my computer when I’m cooking.

Despite my mistakes, ineptitude and sheer ignorance, I am passionate about and determined to create a “home” in every sense of the word. A home in which my husband and I can enjoy, entertain, be comforted by and experience our life together.

This is my diary.