Grandma Annie is one of the reasons I love the simple things in life. Her supper table in the summer time was usually laden with fresh tomatoes and celery, sliced chicken or ham and fresh bread. On cooler days, there would be soup. And after supper, tea.
I like simple suppers these days because my days are often event filled, and when I come home I have little time or inclination for complicated meals. The stir fry pictured above is about as ambitious as it gets for me on a weeknight.
Wash and chop broccoli, green onions and red pepper. Sauté a clove or two of minced garlic in extra virgin olive oil. Add the broccoli, followed by the peppers and then the green onions. Drizzle with lemon juice. Toss in some [re-cooked shrimp and add a dash of pepper and sea salt. All the flavors shine through with purity and definition. No competing for your palate's attention. I like that.
Tonight, too tired to stand and chop, we found a simple meal at a family restaurant. Pot roast and vegetables and baking powder biscuits. We drove north to a park that is filled with wildflowers and shoreline. Then we looped around through Frenchtown to watch the progress on Grandma Annie's house, which we sold to a young family five years ago. Now, for the first time in 125 years, it is in new hands. But the couple who bought it are taking their time bringing the old place into the 21st century.
"They're doing it right," my husband said. "It looks fantastic."
Still, I said, "My heart tightens when I pass the house." He wondered why.
"The neighborhood," I said. "It used to be so vital and alive. Now it's so quiet. We've lost so much of our neighborhoods."
He agreed, and we began to list the reasons for the neighborhood's vitality. There was the boiler works, the lumber yard, the meat packing plant, two mom-and-pop grocery stores, an appliance store, several taverns and a neighborhood school. There was a railroad spur, and the neighborhood was within the shadow of a small airport.
There were noises: the murmur of low flying planes, the clang of a forge, the whistle of a train as it rumbles down the tracks. There were smells: On warm days the packing plant smelled awful, on hot nights, there was that scorchy foundry smell.
This was a neighborhood that worked. You could walk to your job, and you worked side by side with your neighbors. You could shop for food without leaving the neighborhood.
I miss it. Terribly.