Easy Eats

The First Meal

After writing this post last week and getting lots of excellent advice on how to prepare for a move, I ignored most of it and became swamped in the physical details of moving all of our belongings approximately two blocks to our new house.

Betsy and I ended up eating mostly pizza, chinese take-out, and sandwiches washed down with lots of cheap champagne and cheaper beer.

The last 48 hours have been a rush to unpack, organize, and settle the pets who still haven’t learned that stairs just take you to another floor, not another world. It’s a freak-out any time we go up or down because we may never come back.

Nesting Syndrome

Betsy is the queen of unpacking and organizing new homes. If she wasn’t so good at lawyering she could probably start some sort of organizational consulting company and clean up. (punny)

We’ve moved many times together and both of us were more stressed than normal about this move I think because it seemed more permanent than previous moves. This isn’t just a place we sleep, but it’s our home now and for the foreseeable future.

When I unpacked something, it seemed more important. Is that really where that globe should go? Forever?

This is Home

Even after all the unpacking and organizing, even after getting Internet and cable setup, this new home didn’t actually feel like home until I cooked something.

No doubt I was tired and a part of me was like, Screw it – let’s get delivery, but I wanted to use a damn pan to make real food.

Even though I didn’t have my camera equipment setup yet, I figured I would snap a few photos of this first meal. It almost certainly will not be the best thing I cook in my new kitchen, but it seemed significant.

This dish was barely a recipe and so I won’t bother writing an official one. I started by chopping up this pretty Chinese eggplant I saw at the store. I’ve actually never cooked one of these before but I figured if I put it in a pan with some spices it would be not terrible.

eggplantsliced_550

So that’s what I did. I added some oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and sprinkled the eggplant with some salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and five spice powder while it sauteed.

It smelled good almost immediately.

eggplantcooking_550

Just because Betsy and I had been eating a lot of meat over the weekend, I decided to sear some tempeh with the eggplant to give the dish some protein.

Again, nothing tricky here. I diced it up and put it in the pan with some oil and salt and pepper.

tempehsearing_550

The I just piled that mixture on some cooked couscous and topped it with a little yogurt sauce (Greek yogurt, lime juice, maple syrup, sriracha). Adding the maple syrup was key. It gave the dish a tiny bit of sweetness that balanced out some of the bitter flavors.

I topped it with fresh cilantro and sriracha. Dinner is done.

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It’s really nice to have a decent confidence level in the kitchen. I didn’t really feel the need to look up a ‘recipe’ to make this dish happen. I was tired and just went with my gut and it ended up being the best thing we had eaten all weekend.

It also reminded me of the importance of a well-stocked pantry. The only thing I had to buy for the meal was the eggplant and the tempeh.

I plan on sharing many excellent (and probably prettier) meals with you all from this kitchen.

No doubt you’ll be seeing a lot more of my granite countertops and brick-walled kitchen. I also plan on doing a snippet post in a week or two and give you all the official house tour.

Mostly though, I just wanted to write this post because I like talking to you folks. I feel very lucky to have a lovely new home both in the real world and on the Internet.

Do you remember the first meal you ate in your house after a move? 

19 comments on “The First Meal

  1. I like the new set up- a diner art deco look which is manly but easy on the eyes. The eggplant looks good too!

    1. Thanks Helene! Yea. I will probably not photograph a ton in the kitchen, but might snap a few shots. I do love the brick. :)

  2. Congrats on the new home and “The First Meal” looked very tasty and satisfying. I’m sure you are glad to be settling in – ENJOY!

  3. Look forward to many more recipes from your new home :-) I don’t recall my first dish in this house, but when I moved into my Chicago apartment, I baked a potato & stuffed it with broccoli & cheese. Strangely, I was very proud of it! :-)

  4. Congrats on the new home and the new site Nick! Thanks for sharing a simple meal… I think sometimes we forget that cooking can be easy and uncomplicated. It isn’t brain surgery. I use this site to get to that “comfort level” with cooking where I can go without a recipe one day!
    Oh- and the first meal we had in our current house was probably something on the grill- because it was August and the grill was unpacked. :)

  5. My first meal was a stew I made at my in-law’s place to feed the friends and family to help us unload the moving truck. Nearly three years later, I still have not been able to replicate that dish.

    1. Isn’t that how it always goes? Sometimes I think dishes taste particularly good in a situation and unless you recreate that situation you can’t really recreate the dish.

  6. I’m so happy you’re getting settled in your new home, what a great future lies ahead.
    We’ve been in our house for almost 18 years, so who remembers what we ate? We spent 5 years building it, so food was low on the excitement meter.
    Thanks again for your fantastic posts.

    1. That’s awesome Cindy. Thanks for the comment! My parents built one of their first houses together. That’s a crazy endeavor, but must be so rewarding!

  7. We move every two-three years because of the husband being in the military so I totally relate to just wanting to cook something (anything). Our current house, our first meal was Scarpetta’s spaghetti with tomato and basil (fresh tomatoes, cooked down with a basil and garlic infused olive oil). We had just unpacked the pasta and olive oil and did NOT want take-out again. I hope the animals get used to the stairs soon!

  8. Hi Nick, loving the new website – very professional looking :)

    Congratulations on your recent move I hope you’re quickly settled – pets too!

    I love receiving your regular emails as it can make really interesting reading some days, here in the UK we don’t always have the ingredients or use the same name for things as you do there, this weekend I’m going to be trying your breakfast burritos for my eldest son who just loves burritos!

    We moved into this house over 10 years ago and just bought it a couple years back, our youngest was 2 when we moved in so it’s really the only home he’s ever known, we live in a rural village with no street lighting and I will always remember the night we moved in my husband cooked us a steak to celebrate while I got the kids settled into their new bedrooms!

    Good luck with your new home and new website – may they both bring you joy!

  9. Glad you are settling in to the new home, so funny about the pets and the stairs. In our last house our cat staked out the stairs as her own, refusing to let the dog go up and this lasted about 18 months. Like the recipe lots and will be replicating it this weekend. Quick ramen noodle concoctions aside, our first properly cooked meal in this house was a coddle, an Irish bacon, sausage and potato stew – it is a firm family favourite, lasts three meals and gets better every time you reheat it! Most wonderfully it just obligingly bubbled away unattended while we unpacked boxes, rearranged furniture and walked (more like – jumped for joy) on ‘our’ beach!

  10. Welcome to your new home!
    I love the website update and we are very excited about your cookbook.
    It’s going to be a great thing to give everyone I know for their B-day’s and it’s a perfect Xmas gift (hey nothing wrong with being prepared 8-9 months in advance!)
    I especially like it for my guy friends. Never knew what to give them- now I do.
    Cheers!
    m

  11. My husband and I have had many first meals in the various apartments we’ve lived in. The first meal that we cooked when we moved into a tiny Brooklyn apt with two roommates was a squash casserole from the Moosewood Cookbook. It was delightful comfort food. We move into our first house (which has been under renovation for 5 years) in a couple of weeks and I have been thinking a lot about the first meal. Was actually just perusing your site for some inspiration when I came across this post. Congrats on your new home and thanks for the great recipes!

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