“Force Majeure”, Thanksgiving and a Pizza Recipe

Yesterday, I had an adventure.

The day started out like any typical busy Monday; the normal frenzy to get the lunch ready, the kid up and dressed and fed, the homework together, the instrument packed for band practice and out the door with my husband who had to trek to the next block over to get the car, because the city is replacing a drainage pipe right outside our house and closed the street.

I took a deep breath and sat with my cup of coffee  in front of the computer. My husband comes back and we start to work.

Ten minutes later we hear a loud bang just outside our door, followed by an angry hiss. My husband goes up to investigate and I hear  him run down the stairs and shout: “Out of the house, NOW!!!!” It wasn’t a polite request, it was an order and not one to mess with.  We run out of the house through a cloud of nasty smelling gas, my neat looking husband and I, a sorry mess in flimsy ballet slippers, a thin long-sleeved t-shirt, at 43 F (that’s 6 Celsius for the Europeans!) standing in the street, unwashed with greasy hair. It was cold.

The street construction crew broke a 4 inch gas main with the  noxious and flammable gas funneling straight into our house.

After 3 minutes of standing there, the excitement wore off and I realized how cold it was and how unprepared I was to be standing there. This was obviously not going to be a ten minute fire drill. We had 5 dollars in our pocket and nothing else. No keys, no phone, no wallet, no purse, no shoes, no jacket. To cheer me up my husband painted a situation of me taking a shower with shampoo in my hair while  simultaneously being thrown out of the house and I had to admit, given the alternative, I was lucky.

One large heavy construction worker with blond hair, a grey beard and sparkly eyes, told me not to worry. “It’s probably not gonna to blow up”, he said reassuringly. “Last week we had two houses blow up like popcorn, wasn’t anything left but the foundations, but the pipe was 2-inches bigger than the one you have.”   While he was talking I was picturing our house blowing up with all of our belongings floating slowly over the city. It was a poetic image. Then I thought about our insurance which would probably deny any claim on the grounds that this was “force majeure” or an act of god. Well, force majeure with a shovel.

After 4 firetrucks, the gas company and the press arrived, we quietly retreated without being noticed and went for a cup of coffee, basically because I didn’t feel very photogenic and my cold toes started to make tinkling sounds.

The entire time I was thinking how little in that house I really needed…or even wanted. If I had to name ten things of importance, it would have been difficult. Yes, the travel memorabilia were irreplaceable, but the memories were already with me. To lose some of our friends original art would have been very sad. If I expressed myself more through “tangible objects” like art I know I would feel very different. If you were thrown out of your house, what would you rescue?

After a few hours, we were allowed back into our house. The whole episode was a reminder of what’s important and what’s not.

It’s Thanksgiving this week and I’m very much aware of how thankful I am.

Now that you’ve made it this far, below is a half finished post that I started Sunday night. It has some links to food, a good pizza dough recipe and a reminder that Sunday is fabric play date.

See you on Sunday!

Food is on my mind, because on Thursday we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving here in the US.

I’m hosting and will be cooking all day Wednesday while sipping champagne, one of my favorite parts of the celebration.

The NY Times Harvest Tart was on our menu last year and deserves a repeat. Not only does it taste great, but it also makes a beautiful centerpiece to replace the Turkey if you happen to be vegetarian.

And while I won’t make pizza, I made this one the other day and it’s worth sharing.

– 1/2 cups of tepid water (more if dough is too dry)
– 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
– 3 cups of flour
– 1 tsp salt
– 1/2 tsp sugar
– 2/3 tbs olive oil

Stir yeast into tepid water and dissolve.
In a separate bowl mix flour, salt and sugar.
Dump dough on kitchen counter and make a volcano.
Make a “crater” and pour the water/yeast mixture inside.
Move the flour from the outside into the crater until dough is partly mixed.
Add olive oil and knead the dough with your hands until it’s smooth, but not too dry and can be pulled apart. It’s more a matter of feel in the hands than the result of precise measurements.
Place dough in a bowl, cover with a clean damp warm dishtowel and let rise for about an hour until dough has doubled. Quickly knead once more and divide into four balls for small pizzas or 2 for larger ones. Let rest 15 more minutes.
Roll out four pizzas

Top with sauteed onions, red pepper, steamed broccoli and black olives, which is our favorite nowadays. In summer I like fresh tomatoes and basil. And if you are adventurous for a fall pizza (with pumpkin!) Chloe Coscarelli has an interesting sounding recipe here.

Fabric will be hosted here on Sunday. I’ve been playing and the results are interesting so far.

See you on Sunday!

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11 Responses to ““Force Majeure”, Thanksgiving and a Pizza Recipe”

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  1. oh my goodness kathrin…that was quite an adventure, but could have been a catastrophe! thank goodness everyone (and everything) is ok. it’s a sobering thing to ‘take stock’ is it not? the older i get, the more i really, the less i need to be happy…the more ‘things’ i own, the more they own me…i have to find a place for them, or somewhere to store them, or someone to give them to, etc etc. then there is the attachment factor…some of the things we are attached to only because they have always been ours but in reality, we have grown tired of but can’t really get rid of because of past attachments…that’s why the attic is stuffed. i am getting better, trying to think of things i get rid of as going to new happy homes where people will enjoy them as i once did. now. if only i could get rid of that rocker with the broken rocker, and the table missing a leg, and…and…and…~ hope you have a lovely thanksgiving!

  2. Suschna says:

    That story was a good read. Glad you didn’t end up as popcorn.
    I once read a Haiku:
    My house burnt down.
    Now I can better see
    the rising moon.
    I like that. Fits in a lot of situations involving a loss.

    Was Sonntag angeht, stehe ich echt auf dem Schlauch. Nix funktioniert. Bin mit lauter Ersatzhandlungen beschäftigt, z.B. mein nettes Bild von de Botton zerstören, indem ich alles über ihn lese und seine Talks anhöre.

  3. Kathrin says:

    Ich habe mir gerade das “Travel” Buch ausgeliehen. Der Anfang liest sich wirklich gut. Ich hab noch gar kein rechtes Bild von de Botton, ausser, dass er recht clever ist und gut schreibt. Aber jetzt bin ich natuerlich neugierig geworden…
    Fuer Sonntag habe ich auch wiedermal nur eine kleine Auswahl an verschiedenen Ideen, die konsequent umgesetzt werden muessten, um zu wirken. Sobald Auge und Hirn sortieren duerfen, sieht’s ja erst nach was aus. Ich habe mich hingesetzt mit einer Stunde Zeit und ins Leere gestarrt. Nach 25 Minuten fing ich dann an ein bischen mit Kleber und Stoff rumzusauen. Mehr kriege ich sicher auch nicht zustande mit Thanksgiving und kochen und backen. Nur keinen Stress. Und wenn du Sonntag aussetzt, setzt du eben aus, nicht wahr?
    Das Haiku ist wunderschoen und werde ich mir merken. Vielen Dank dafuer! It accurately describes what I felt yesterday.
    lg von Kathrin

  4. frifris says:

    Oh, god, you were so lucky. For one, to get out of the house unharmed, and of course, to not have the house blow up.
    My uncle’s farm (it had been one of the oldest ones around at the time, all wood, one of those typical Blackforest ones) burned down to the ground when I was a kid. I still remember watching it burn. So losing one’s personal belongings is something that has been on my mind maybe a little more often than is common (and unfortunately it hasn’t kept me from keeping more and more stuff).
    The most important things to me would be old photographs.
    (Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t keep a safe deposit box with certificates and a memory stick. I’m only half joking).

    Hm, I’m very hungry for pizza now. And btw, your link for the Harvest Tart leads someplace else ;)

    I haven’t yet decided what to do for Sunday, oh no!

  5. Suschna says:

    Für Sonntag habe ich nun etwas, das mir Spaß macht. Immer schön nach dem Lustprinzip.
    Wegen de Botton: Nein, nix schlimmes. Ich hatte nur so ein Schwiegermutters Darling mit roten Ohren in Erinnerung, aber dem ist er ja längst entwachsen. Und das Netz vergisst eben nichts. Ein falscher Kommentar, ein zu oft wiederholter Witz, und schon ist eine Lichtgestalt am Boden.
    Er hat in London ein Institut gegründet, da kann man bei Literaturwisschenschafltern eine Anamnese machen und sich eine passende Bücherliste zusammenstellen lassen. Das bräuchte ich auch. Und er hält weltliche Sunday Sermons ab, da würde ich auch gern mal hingehen.

  6. griselda says:

    Himmel, das Haiku ist wirklich schön, solange das nur Theorie ist.
    Aber von solchen Geschichten wirst du noch in vielen Jahren erzählen und dann auch drüber lachen……

    Ich hatte nicht damit gerechnet, am Sonntag etwas beisteuern zu können, meine Marktvorbereitungen haben in mir alles blockiert. Aber plötzlich kam gestern Abend aus dem Nichts eine Eingebung, die habe ich heute umgesetzt.
    Zackzack- und ich bin so froh drum, ohne den Druck des Dead-End am Sonntag hätte ich ein nettes Teilchen weniger.

  7. waltraut says:

    What an exciting story. But a bit scary too. Fortunately nobody was harmed.
    I have often thought about what I would rescue of all my belongings in a situation like yours. Most probably my handbag with my glasses, my money and my cards.
    Don’t you have any nice neighbours who gave you shelter?

  8. Bele says:

    This sounds like a well-known scenario in my part of the world. Less with gas-pipes, but with still intact bombs sitting in the ground since WW II. With every new construction site they discover them and it gives you a vague idea, how many of them must have rained down on this poor city.

    Hope, you didn’t catch a cold while waiting for the popcorn?! My grandmother saved an iron pan (?!) in a similar situation. We had a scary situation this summer, when a bush fire came rather close to our campground. But having hardly any belongings with us, it was more the question of “who catches what child and runs in what direction” (and we had papers and credit card in ONE bag from that day on).

    Herzlichst, Bele

  9. kathrin says:

    Thanks Bele, luckily I didn’t catch a cold (but our daughter, who was at school and missed the whole thing did) did. What was fascinating to me, is how many interesting new thoughts entered my mind. But that’s what happens when one leaves the routine behind…. what goes with it are the “routine” thoughts. Glad nothing happened on your adventure this summer. Fire is very scary, I think. As for your grandmother, maybe that iron pan was the only thing close by and that’s what she grabbed. I do remember looking around the table wondering if I could “rescue something small perhaps”.

  10. Lucy says:

    Das ist ja wirklich faszinierend – so musste das Haus nur fast explodieren, damit du, wie im Haiku, den Mond besser siehst. In den letzten Tagen habe ich angefangen, jeden Tag ein Ding in die “zu-verschenken”-kiste bei uns unten im Hausflur zu legen, um die Sachen im Haushalt loszuwerden, die weder schön und bzw. oder nützlich sind. Es gab in den letzten Wochen einen Anlass, mal wieder über eine Hausratsversicherung nachzudenken – aber ich komme immer zu dem Schluss, dass sich das, was mir wichtig ist, ohnehin nicht nachkaufen ließe. Gut, wenn man gleichzeitig Bett, Kühlschrank, Waschmaschine bräuchte, weil man abgebrannt ist – aber mit dem Verlust der nicht austauschbaren dinge müsste man trotzdem zurecht kommen.

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