I am going to move soon. Again, for about the 30th time. Honestly. If you include moving Transatlantic for 3 months every summer and returning to a new house, a new apartment, maybe a new city usually a new school, every year for 16 years.
I am happy about this move though. It feels like the most important one to me.
Friends, colleagues and neighbors shake their heads in disbelief that I should want to move from my own rented four storey house with fours bedrooms and 3 baths, a terrace, a garage and a garden into a 4.25 room apartment, into a hideous building next to the highway on the 10th floor.
But I knew, I knew the minute I walked into that apartment that it was going to save me. Save me from gloom and accusations, the hardships of unemployment and endless responsibilities on my shoulders. It would lead me into peace, voluntary family solitude and light. I am ready, we are ready as a family to make a new start.
We are sorting and tossing and donating. At times with ease and at others with excruciation over each object with love, a story, a memory. For me, my son or my husband.
It makes me feel good and light. This reducing to the quintessence of the gatherings of my life since June 1977 when I arrived in Germany with 2 suitcases and my father’s expired French passport with my picture as his daughter in it and my own US one. And, as of 1989, of my life with my husband and since 1997 with our son.
I am throwing off the hardships, the depressions and the struggles, the unhappiness and the strenuous moments, the useless stuff bought in frustration, the superfluous or the unwanted are being discarded. Some of it is sold, some goes to the dump and the precious is given to the darling ladies at Caritas in Hoechst near where we live to brighten the lives of others less fortunate than we are.
A new wind is blowing for me, it is calling me to grow once again, to bend and change, to adjust and develop, to listen and to lead, to imagine and inspire.
My biggest sacrifice is in relinquishing my “ballroom-like kitchen” with its gorgeous window and my beloved Italian Modena gas stove and my adored copper tri-ply pots from Caphalon… sniff..
My new – think empty – kitchen is 480 cm long and 176 cm wide – yikes, no, no I don’t want to speak or think about it until it has been installed – the story is long and difficult and I am going to trust my husband to fix the situation and have the kitchen installed just the way I want it – basta!
In the meantime selling off my kitchen has been a really sobering experience. I have learned that *SURPRISE* you can’t influence who is buying your stuff. You have to let go. Even when your beloved things are carried out the door by strangers with very different lives from yours.
We are eating out of the freezer, the shrimp and the veal filet, the duck breast and the sea bass, the last pack of snails in the top corner under the ice cubes, and spinach, lots of spinach. Life could be worse.
But this Saturday I went to the open market in the rain and then to the Turkish market store. And between my boxes, and spices on the floor, with my beautiful pots, on my excellent stove I made this salad – for me, for my family, for you. Enjoy it, it is delicious!
P. S. If you want to buy my stove or my pots let me know! They are my beloved and it would be good to know them in skilled hands.
Eggplant, Tomato, Mozzarella Salad with Sesame Cashew Crunch
- 3 medium-small or 2 medium eggplants
- 250 grams of date-shaped tomatoes – or cherry tomatoes
- 250 grams buffalo mozzarella
- 3 sprigs of fresh cilantro
- 2 sprigs of fresh mint leaves
- 2 TBSP of blueberry cream vinegar
- 1 tsp of pomegranate sour syrup
- 2 TBSP of vegetable oil or mild olive or sunflower oil
- 1 TBSP passion-fruit vinegar or other fruity exotic vinegar
- Juice of ½ fresh lime
- 2 TBSP of cashew nuts plain not salted, roughly chopped
- 1 TBSP of sesame seeds plain or Asian-roasted
- 1 TBSP butter
- 1 TBSP sugar
- Salt & pepper
- Middle-Eastern spice mixture (containing coriander seeds, garlic, cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, etc.)
- Chili flakes to taste
- Mixed salad greens for serving and crusty bread
Putting it all together:
Preheat the oven to 175° C / 350° C.
Wash the eggplants and dry them, poke them several times all over with a sharp fork and rub them lightly with olive oil. Place them in the preheated oven on parchment paper and bake until wrinkly about 40 minutes.
After the eggplants have been baking about 30 minutes, begin preparing the salad as below:
In a large and pretty salad bowl mix the blueberry vinegar, pomegranate syrup and the lime juice. Add the salt, pepper, several grinds of the Middle-Eastern spice mixture, chili flakes and the oil, beat well with a whisk.
Wash and slice the tomatoes in half, cube the mozzarella, wash and remove the stems from the cilantro and mint and chop it roughly with a sharp knife, add all these things to the bowl with the dressing and mix well.
Remove the eggplants from the oven and let them cool about 5 minutes so that they are cool enough to handle. Chop off the stem and squeeze the eggplant with both hands (opening down) over the sink so as to squeeze out as much of the bitter water as possible.
Transfer the drained eggplant to a cutting board and remove the skin that comes off easily by hand – you can leave some on no problem or all of it if your prefer.
Cube the drained eggplant and add to the salad bowl, mixing as you go along. Continue with the other eggplant. Let rest while you make the crunch.
Heat a non-stick pan slowly having added the chopped cashews and the sesame seeds. Stir and heat on low about 4 minutes until fragrant. Add the sugar and continue stirring to coat the nuts another 3 minutes, lower the temperature some more and stirring constantly so as not to burn: add the butter, ½ teaspoon of salt and some ground pepper. Continue cooking until well coated and sticky about 3 minutes more. Turn off the heat, let rest for 1 minute and add to the salad. Mix well. Pour the 1 TBSP of passion-fruit vinegar over the salad, mix and adjust the seasoning. Serve over salad greens with crusty bread!