I know it sounds strange, but I’m feeling a bit envious of Anthony Scaramucci today.
No, I don’t wish I had embarrassed myself totally by making scatological comments to a reporter, or gotten myself bounced out of a job I had barely started. I don’t envy him missing the birth of his son because he would much rather suck up to the president than deal with the wife who can’t wait to divorce him.
I don’t wish to be described as “colorful” by people who really mean “crass.” I definitely don’t want to be the sort of person who thinks it is OK to stab people as long as you do it in the front.
And I can’t begin to say how happy I am not to have a nickname that makes me sound like I’m a gangster. Or a freeloader. (Or maybe a freeloading gangster?)
Actually, when I think about it, there’s very little I admire or wish to emulate in the Mooch’s life. But nevertheless, I am jealous of this one thing:
If he were sitting down to write a column referencing his life in the past two weeks, he’d have a lot of interesting material.
Me, not so much.
Since I wrote you last, I haven’t tweeted once. I haven’t fired anyone or been fired. No one has tried to interview me, either on or off the record. I haven’t been the brunt of jokes on late-night TV. Hell, I haven’t even raked leaves.
This dearth of newsworthy column material presents me with a dilemma if I want to honor the “amuse” portion of the column title. Because other than my continuing voyeuristic interest in the non-workings of our reality show White House, just one topic has occupied my every waking minute for the past two weeks. And it isn’t the least bit funny.
It’s the kitchen redo, slated for construction this fall.
Ack! Just writing that makes me want to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.
Here’s the thing about planning a major renovation. It’s a full-time freak-out. It involves a hundred thousand decisions, any one of which could come back to haunt you if you get it wrong.
It requires chasing information across the Internet, sending and receiving emails, trying to understand specs, visiting showrooms, visualizing tile patterns and having at least one major anxiety attack a day. Then tossing and turning all night and getting up the next day to do it all over again.
I’ve been told that some (totally crazy) people actually enjoy this process. If you are one of them, I invite you to please come help me out by writing a guest column about all the fun involved.
As for me, it might be the insomnia talking, but I am just not finding the joy in it.
Before you ask, yes, I am working with a very able designer, who assures me that worrying is her job, not mine. But that doesn’t stop me having to make the final decisions on everything from layout to cabinet styles to appliances to countertops to drawer placement, any one of which could turn out to be a huge and expensive mistake.
And it’s starting to get serious. We have reached the point where I have to commit and begin writing enormous checks.
After that will come the even more delightful part that involves living in dusty, noisy chaos for weeks and weeks, and more enormous checks.
Excuse me, does anyone have a paper bag I can borrow? I need to hyperventilate now.
OK, I’m starting to calm down. I just took another look at the plans and realized that most of the hard decisions have been made — and I really like my choices. Having a new kitchen will be stupendous, and with all this planning, I’m sure the project will go like clockwork. This actually could be — dare I say it? — fun.
Though if the road to construction turns out to be rocky, that would be fine, too — at least from a column perspective.
As the Mooch can attest, catastrophes make the best stories.
From “Dinner: Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark
I admit it hasn’t been all work all the time. I did manage to squeeze in a few social events between anxiety attacks last month. The July meeting of the Cook/Book club was a particularly delicious gathering. We all fell in love with the featured cookbook, Melissa Clark’s latest, “Dinner: Changing the Game.”
If you like simple, flavorful and easy recipes (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to add this book to your collection. Here’s one of the recipes I particularly enjoyed, to whet your appetite.
In the cookbook, Clark offers this as a simple dinner for two, but with smaller portions it also works brilliantly as an appetizer.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
Salt and fresh-ground pepper
4 slices crusty bread, cut 1/2-inch thick
1 large fat garlic clove, cut in half
6 ounces sardines, packed in oil, large bones removed
Thinly sliced red onion, shallots or scallions
Chopped fresh parsley or chives for garnish
Flaky sea salt for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook without stirring until they are slightly blistered and soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Toss in the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Shake the skillet a few times and then remove it from the heat.
Toast the bread slices (or make them into crostini by brushing them with olive oil and toasting them in the oven). Rub the toasted bread on both sides with the cut side of the garlic.
Place the toasts on a serving plate, then top with the sardines, tomatoes and onion. Drizzle with a little additional oil, then garnish with chopped parsley and flaky sea salt.