By Bonnie Fishman
It’s moving day. Officially. We’ve been moving to California in drips and drabs over the past two years, but this is the real deal. Everything must go. I’m surprisingly not sad. It’s curious to me that in spite of being a sentimental person, I’ve been unemotional about emptying our house of 35 years, the house where we raised both our children, created joyous memories, hosted many parties (especially our ALL-day New Year’s Day party), and suffered through family traumas.
We love our lush one-acre yard on a steep hill with towering trees. We love our homey kitchen, where zillions of meals were prepared and eaten. We love our family room that served as a gathering place to watch TV, movies, and Michigan football. We dislike the quad-level stairs, stairs, and more stairs. We dislike our 1950s windows (we were too cheap to replace them!). We dislike our “sticky” doors (no one seemed to be able to fix them right). All in all, it has been a great home for us. But we look forward to getting back to our California house all on one level, completely off the grid, and self-sustaining ,with 100 percent solar energy, our own well, septic, and gas. It’s really quite liberating.
Originally, Bob and I were going to be “snowbirds,” six months in Michigan, six months in California. We innocently planned on spending our winter out west in December 2019, moving in with my sister Nancy and her husband Ronnie (no, not the Reagans). But then the pandemic happened. We never left, and eventually decided to build a house next door. We became accustomed to living a slower-paced life in a smaller city. We reevaluated where we wanted to settle. Who needs two houses? After the coast was clear, we drove back to suburban Detroit to move our things, clean the house up, and put it on the market.
Many other people have moved as a result of the pandemic, and the unusual situations that have arisen. One huge reason has been people’s ability to work from home and maybe never have to return to an office. This opens up a world of opportunity to live anywhere in the world. Maybe living in crowded, expensive New York City or Los Angeles in order to be near the workplace is not necessary anymore.
Leah and Jonny of Brooklyn, NY., temporarily moved their family to Long Island. Lucky them, they had already been managing a cousin’s beach house there as an Airbnb. When the pandemic hit, the existing bookings canceled and they were able to move in to escape the crowded city. Life there has been so pleasant. Both parents can work remotely and the children can attend school online. They met other families fortunate to have the resources to move to the beach as well. A pandemic “pod” formed with this little group. Leah and Jonny still live there. When in-person school begins this fall, the family will return to the city.
Circumstances for Breanne, a Los Angeles sales representative for commercial ad talent, were based on timing. Her lease was up on July 1, 2020. After nine years in the same house, ready for a change and having to work remotely, Breanne took the opportunity to travel safely with her sister that summer. The pandemic wasn’t going away any time soon, so she moved in with her mom in suburban Detroit. Breanne soon found herself being a source of support for her mom and her grandmother, who needed help after hospital stays. Fast forward to the present day. Breanne will stay in Michigan at least through the beautiful summer and fall, returning to L.A. in January. She feels that this has been a rare opportunity to be with her family, continue with her great job in California, and save on rent as a bonus.
Moving is a Herculean effort by any standards. My husband and I spent a solid month purging and packing. Truth be told, we hadn’t really dug through our stuff for decades. Procrastination has a tendency to sneak up on you and we found ourselves sifting through bills that dated back to the early ‘80s. Hey, I found towels older than my kids, and they’re in the 30s! My friend JoAnn said “Plan on a renting a dumpster but double the size you think that you’ll need.” Good advice! We rented a dumpster the size of many Manhattan studio apartments. We filled that sucker to capacity and then some.
We never came up for air and only left the house for provisions. Some nights, I resorted to eating cereal or peanut butter sandwiches. We were committed packers! One bit of advice: if friends offer to help you pack, kindly decline but have them bring you dinner instead, and stay for a visit. Bring the outside world in because you will not see anything but boxes, packing material, and tape.
Two generous friends, AnaRuth and Phyllis, actually cooked us dinner. Real food. AnaRuth made a lovely salad and assorted pastries. Phyllis made her tried-and-true brisket with onions, carrots, and potatoes. That sustained us for four days.
Phyllis has kindly shared her recipe with us. As you all probably know by now, I’m a “from scratch” cook. That’s always been my style. However Phyllis, like many, chooses to incorporate some packaged and bottled items. Her results were stellar. One last thing: what may have made this brisket oh so special was that she used her Aunt Sadie’s roasting pan!
Phyllis’s Brisket in Aunt Sadie’s Roaster
Yield: 10-12 servings
1 5-6 lb. brisket
2 lg. onions, sliced thin
2 lbs. baby potatoes, whole or cut in half, depending on the size
1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1” pieces
1 pkg. Goodman’s Onion Soup & Dip mix
1 c. water
1 c. red wine
1 c. ketchup
1 c. BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large roasting pan with half of the onions. Place the brisket on top. Scatter the potatoes and carrots around the pan. Sprinkle meat with onion soup mix. Pour the water and red wine around the pan. Combine the ketchup and BBQ sauce in a small bowl. “Frost” the brisket with the mixture. Top with remaining onions.
Cover tightly with 3 layers of foil, crimping the edges for a secure seal. Roast for 4 hours or until tender. To test for doneness, insert a fork into the thickest part and twist. If there is resistance, cook for another 30-60 minutes. The fork should twist easily.
Remove pan from oven. Uncover. Allow to cool on the counter. Pour off as much liquid as possible. Refrigerate the meat and liquid separately overnight.
The next day, slice the brisket very thin across the grain. Put in a fresh roasting dish with vegetables. Remove and discard the fat from the top of the liquid. Pour remaining liquid over the meat. Cover, reheat at 350° for @ 35-45 minutes.
Bonnie Fishman attended the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London. Later, she owned and operated Bonnie’s Patisserie in Southfield, Mich. and Bonnie’s Kitchen and Catering in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. She has taught cooking for over 35 years and created hundreds of recipes. She is now living in Northern California.