Friday, September 24, 2010

My Fruit Bowl Overfloweth

So far, living near family has some pretty great bonuses. My dad is a serious food shopper. My mom is a serious browser of all things girly. I am the product of both.

We've been in our house for just over two weeks, and there is still so much organizing, planning, scheduling, (sewing!!!), and stocking up to do. I decided that I couldn't possibly postpone our new homeschool year any further, so we started gradually moving into our school work on Monday.

My 96-year-old grandfather is in a nursing home on the opposite side of Pittsburgh, so I try to plan our visits to coincide with my parents' visits. It turned out that Craig Grayson's football game was at a school just up the street from the nursing home, so on Wednesday, we planned our first visit to Grandpap in over three weeks. Being a multi-tasker, I thought we should also squeeze some "special" grocery shopping into this trip.

The Strip is the mother lode of imported and local food and goods. My dad is the perfect tour guide for this place, and we were almost in competition with our purchases. He teased me later when he learned that I hadn't thought to buy Buffalo mozzarella at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company (but he had). I did, however, get some other great cheeses while we were there. The lady in the deli kept calling me "Dear Heart" as she helped me with my order. Precious.

I especially enjoyed visiting Labad's Middle Eastern Market. (Labad's also has a restaurant annexed to the store, but that's not how Daddy rolls; so we ended up eating at Smallman Street Deli. Allow me to recommend their filet mignon sandwich. Mmm. Hmm. That's right.) Anyway, I was delighted to find that Labad's carries the Turkish coffee that Craig likes. I'm sure that I could just add cardamom to his coffee at home, but he enjoys the experience. So, I let him have his fun and use his ibrik. By the way, if you are in the 'burgh and decide to visit Labad's, make sure and purchase the special Medjool dates that are sold at the counter for $5.99 per pound. You'll be glad that you opted against the smaller ones that are sold in a container. (Daddy won this one.)

(Here, Mom and I are taking advantage of the 3 for $25 deal on scarves. [What is UP with my side profile?? Look at that cranium!])

 (This place reminded me of the souk. In fact, there was a bag that drew me back three times to the souk in the Old City in Jerusalem, only to decide in the end not to buy it. How funny that the same style of bag is right here in Pittsburgh, PA!)

 (The clerk was so pleasant and hospitable. I love that we can still enjoy an international experience here in the 'burgh.")

 (I'm not sure if our friend, Arun, reads this blog, but this photo is for him. 5 kilos of Nutella. It doesn't get much better. This was taken in Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.)

(And for the occasional "shot", I bought a few of these pocket-sized samples for Craig to carry in his car.)

As we shopped for produce, Daddy and I planned future shared meals. While shopping for peppers, he requested that I invite him over for some of my Abobora and Lentil Stuffed Peppers. I saved the last one for him to sample last week, and he liked it even more than I had expected. I'm trying my best to wean our family off of sausage, and I hadn't yet purchased ground beef; so I used lentils and mixed them with ricotta, roasted butternut ("abobora" in Portuguese), spinach, garlic, and herbs. I can't recall which cheese is over the top. It doesn't matter, really, as long as it's Italian. That's my default: You can't go wrong with Italian. Check it out:

Before leaving The Strip, Morgan and I stopped by the Asian market to pick up a few things for my friend, Sue. We agreed to meet my parents and the other children (minus Craig Grayson, who stayed behind to catch the bus to his game) at the truck. It was at this point that I really learned the link between fitness and homemaking. If it hurts me to carry two bags of groceries a few blocks to the parking lot, it is time to ante up with my upper-body workouts.

(Here's a layout of some of our loot. I was able to stock up on some everyday seasonings from Penzey's Spices.)

(I was happy to find that this jar of artichoke hearts did NOT cost $80, as it would have in Moçambique. However, to my chagrin, I discovered a day later that I could have saved $4 on this very same jar at Sam's Club. Lesson learned: don't get too tickled just because it's sold at the Italian market. [What would Barbara Kingsolver say of my purchase of CA artichokes in Pittsburgh? And how ARE her books distributed to such widespread locations, considering her 100-mile rule?])

Reader survey:
Italian olive oil or Spanish? 

(Since Craig hasn't been traveling to Israel for business, I can't get it from there.) 

Following our city shopping excursion, we headed to see Grandpap, and then on to Craig Grayson's football game. Upon our arrival at the field, a knock-down, drag-out storm swept through the city, postponing the game an hour and a half. Craig was on his way from work to watch the game, but had to turn back. Along the way, he ended up with a cracked windshield on his new car. The radio reported that our neighborhood would receive the brunt of the storm, which we later found to be true.

Just that morning, the children and I sang "All Creatures of Our God & King" as our morning hymn. I had been reflecting on God's sovereignty and all of His creation that points to His Majesty. Even in a storm, He is shown to be in control. As they say, "There are no maverick molecules." The Book of Job and the Psalms have much to say of this Truth. It is by God's Divine Providence that this large limb from one of the colossal trees in our front yard landed on the iron railing that leads down our steps from the street, rather than on our house. Notice the damage to the railing:

(This limb also fell, just feet away from our glass patio table. I was away when the clean-up crew came; but Morgan said that as they were working, yet another limb fell. Fortunately, no one was in its path.) 

Although we were only without electricity for about 12 hours, two days later, part of our neighborhood is still without power. There are many traffic lights that are not working, causing awful congestion, even beyond what is typical for Pittsburgh. 

I have had a hard time getting used to the idea of having an actual "Pittsburgh" mailing address, but I'm liking what the city has to offer. The trees in our neighborhood, though dangerous in storms, give the illusion that we live away from the city. Still, I'm very aware of our proximity to "where it all happens". Today, I experienced the bonus of having a Pittsburgh address when my wheat order was delivered by truck to our doorstep for a mere $3 service charge. I'll save the spike in wheat prices for another post.


  1. You're making me hungry! Looking forward to the day when we can sit around your table and sample some of your gourmet fare! :)

  2. I love reading about your adventures! So educational, and it looks like so much fun!

  3. SO HAPPY when our electricity came on last night after 27 hours! Leaving your home today, was praising God for little storm damage to your home or our home...and praying for the other's that we passed on the way we found our way thru the traffic lights not working, whole streets closed due to whole trees in the middle of was quite a storm! Hmmm...Barbara Kingsolver....I LOVED her that it really made me aware of how we could live more locally...canning/dehydrating and freezing as much from our garden and local farmers as we can for the winter months. so very glad to be able to get whatever we need from our very diverse city! You know there is a local indian market right across (almost) from the market district? Sara & I like to go there. Have a very blessed weekend my friend!

  4. That looks like so much fun, E'ma! I miss the strip district so much and I look forward to going with you guys. You know I am not the carne person but that filet mignon sandwich sounded SO GOOD! I was tasting that filet you made in Moçambique. :)

    The nutella was HUGE and what's funny is that I thought of Arun immediately when I looked at it. So I laughed when I saw your comment. We're gonna have to tell him to look at your blog post.

    Also, that is some serious damage! I can't picture everything about the way that house is structured or the landscape, so I wasn't able to exactly picture what you and dad were talking about. :/ I love you guys so much and miss you bunches!! I am excited that you have made a new blog post. It takes me back home. :)

    Te amo muito!