It’s a flippant way of saying you’ve got a lot…a ton of whatever. I’ve got a ton of work to do. You’re not really referring to the actual weight of things, just an amount everyone understands as a whole mess of stuff. That is, until you are about to pack it into boxes and load it onto a truck. That’s when your “ton of stuff” gets real. Or in my case, just under three tons of it. I’m not kidding. THREE TONS! When you are moving across town you’re charged by the number of hours. Try moving across the country, and now you’re talking weight….a LOT of weight. When I mentioned that number, about 5,700 pounds to my friends, the usual reaction goes something like: “OMG!! How much stuff do you HAVE?!” Now before you start nominating me for the next installment of Hoarders, let me explain something. Things weigh a lot more than you’d think. The average cookbook weighs over two pounds. The average pair of shoes? Ok, admittedly I probably have over a hundred pounds of footwear. But just consider if a book weighs about two pounds, imagine a bookcase full, not to mention the weight of the bookcase itself. This crap adds up fast! So the contents of a 3-½-room apartment? Yeah, three tons sounds about right.
Once I got over the shock of the number, the realization hit… I have to pack three tons of stuff! And when you have to pack that much well-loved crap, you notice that as the packed boxes pile up, the packing technique starts to resemble the laws of decreasing grading standards. I’ll explain. When I was teaching high school and faced a stack of 80 essays to grade, the top of the stack was graded on a somewhat stricter standard than the bottom. In other words, I was more enthusiastically pulling out the red pen and attacking those top papers, marking off for even the smallest infraction against the answer key. You know it happens. You never wanted to be the last one to hand in an essay, right? The last one went on the top, and if your answers were even a little “creative” in regards to the facts, you just knew you were screwed. Packing three tons of stuff suffers from the same fate. The first boxes are packed so perfectly, so properly, there’s no way anything in them would shift in transit or be marred in any way from their pristine pre-pack condition. And they were pristine. I was actually dusting books off before putting them in, spine side down, in ascending size order, arranging all of the same sized books together to perfectly fit in with the “book box” I ordered from U-haul. By the time I got to the 5th book box, well, you get the picture. They were lucky to get tossed into the box at all and not the big plastic bag I ordered from Hefty.
With a little more than two weeks left before my move, I’m about two-thirds of a ton down, leaving two tons to go. And I’m thinking it would probably be wise to stop grading on a curve soon. Because I start packing the wine glasses tomorrow….
This week’s recipe was inspired by the fact that if I don’t eat it I have to pack it. And that means getting creative with the things I have left in my pantry. Luckily that still means some tasty meals in between all the boxing. I first had a salad like this on a visit to Florence several years ago. It was served on top of crostini or little toasts, and is a great example of simple good ingredients and not too much fuss creating a really tasty meal. The key to my Tuscan Tuna and Cannellini Salad is a can of good tuna packed in olive oil. The rest of the recipe is ridiculously simple. Just a can of cannellini beans, some celery, parsley and lemon. It’s one of my favorite meals for a hot summer day when I don’t feel like cooking.
Tuscan Tuna and Cannellini Salad
Makes about 2 ½ cups
I like to serve this the way I had it, atop thin slices of toasted baguette, but you could easily serve on a salad of arugula or baby greens and tomatoes.
- 1 5-oz. can of tuna in olive oil (I like Genova or Cento)
- 1 can cannellini beans
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- ½ cup finely chopped celery (about 2-3 stalks)
- Zest and juice of a small lemon (you’ll need about 1 teaspoon zest, and 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons juice)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Drain and rinse the cannellini beans and put in a bowl. Add the chopped parsley, chopped celery, lemon zest, 1 ½-2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the can of tuna, with oil, and toss well. Let the salad sit for an hour or so for the flavors to develop, then taste. Add additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice if needed. Calories: 540 total, or about 110 per ½ cup.
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