Well, we didn’t set out to do this, but we’re back in the business of house-sitting for the rest of the summer. We house-sat for some friends in Temple last week, and had a great time enjoying their spacious house and backyard pool. What this house did not have, unfortunately, was a television or computer with easy access, so Stephen and I had to pass our time with old-fashioned entertainment standbys such as reading, conversation, and watching DVDs on our laptop.
Now we’re back in Waco staying in a house that will be ours until August. There’s no pool here, but it’s a nice house in a beautiful part of town. We took the dogs for a walk yesterday evening, and because we forgot their leashes at home, we improvised by using a pair of long shoestrings that we found in the kids’ playroom. Hands down, we were the most ghetto dog-walkers in Waco’s finest historic neighborhood.
For the most part, house-sitting is easy. I feel no awkwardness reading someone else’s books, sleeping in their bed, or watching their TV. Looking for an iron or nail polish remover is a great excuse to peek behind closet doors, which is a guilty pleasure for a nosy Peeping Tom like myself. Really, the only hard part of living in a house that is not my own is trying to cook a meal in someone else’s kitchen.
Yesterday I got Stephen to bring me some ingredients from my own house (fish, breadcrumbs, and broccoli, the essentials of my favorite meal), and I figured I could fill in the gaps with whatever I could find in the cabinets. It sounded simple enough, but somehow three hours later I was still eating a bowl of cereal.
Roadblock #1 It took me opening every single cabinet and drawer multiple times to find the simplest items, like foil to line my pan, or a spoon to stir my ingredients. I could not make heads or tails of the organization of the kitchen supplies, so every little thing I needed required a major investigation.
Roadblock #2 All I had brought to put on my fish was breadcrumbs, which I planned to season with spices that I found in the kitchen. I have an incredibly rudimentary understanding of food seasoning, so I assumed that any spice I might know to look for would be readily available. WRONG. This family clearly has a very different food culture than I am used to. All of the spices came from a specialty store and had custom-printed labels. I found several different variations of curry, and lots of stuff I didn’t recognize, including something called “Maharajah” (which I only knew as a made up character from Moulin Rouge), but no freaking garlic powder.
Roadblock #3 It’s also really hard to use someone else’s appliances. The oven is really old, and filled the house with a weird odor as it preheated. The odor only got worse as I tried to bake my bland fish fillets. I almost blew my eyebrows off trying to steam broccoli on the gas stove, and I worried that I would make the house explode or kill myself with carbon monoxide on my first night in this place.
Hours later, we were finally able to eat, and it wasn’t even good. I threw most of my food away, and filled my hungry stomach the rest of the way with a wholesome snack of Kix and a Dr. Pepper. Today I’m going to my house to load up on my McCormick’s spices and my toaster oven. Anyone want to join us for dinner?