Ready For Dead
I know that my title sounds really morbid, but it's actually pretty funny. Whenever I go on a trip it triggers my ready for dead mode. It's akin to nesting for pregnant mothers. The longer the trip the earlier the cleaning, pruning, and organizing begins. I want every closet, drawer, and surface clean, every bill paid, and more—so that I can feel centered and ready for launch. Be that Vietnam, or into my next life, whichever I am destined for. This notion first became a tangible thing for me when a friend captured it for me in her sweet Virginia style: it's what her mother had named this restless pre-trip energy. The idea of leaving home, our sacred space, can elicit a low-grade frequency of nervous energy, no matter how excited we are to see the world. It's big sister is called Swedish death cleaning, a conspicuous virtuosity involving the ‘pre-clearing’ of space as a kindness to loved ones—literally the gift of a lifetime. My macabre sense of humor was smitten with the idea of calling this fear out–big and loud, and laughing at it–and making it my own. Packaging it into something positive and useful, something infused with humor and intention. (And as a bonus—maybe even something delicious!)
I am off to Southeast Asia for three weeks and the cleaning has hit fever pitch. I was into my fridge yesterday. Every condiment bottle crowding the shelves was drafted into my hoisin sauce project. I am addicted to good hoisin–it's a sweet, spicy, mahogany-colored slather of soybean heaven, and I thought, 'hummm, wouldn't it be fun to mix all these random condiments together and make a once-in-a-lifetime smacking good sauce?' This notion dovetailed perfectly with my reluctance to follow an actual recipe and to Swedish-clean the heck out of my refrigerator.
‘Maybe you have something special waiting in the dregs of your fridge?’
My bacchanalia of bottles contained some delectable yet mildly processed potential: mom's homemade BBQ sauce, black bean paste, miso, craft-made roasted onion jam and pear-lemon sage jam, coconut amino sauce, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce, Stonewall Kitchen Honey balsamic Dressing, almond butter, roasted garlic, hot fudge sauce, plus some frozen ginger cubes. Hoisin sauce is the Asian version of ketchup, there is no right or wrong recipe. I use it sparingly as a condiment on just about everything–I find it especially good on a sweet potato-lentil-spinach bowl or with brown rice and veggies.
This was next level ready for dead activity. All I had to do was blend all the ingredients together in my Cuisinart and see what developed. I played with the flavors by adding a bit of maple syrup here and some hot sauce there until I was satisfied with the result. The color was off, so I added some molasses and a bit more heat. Then I simmered it lightly, covered, on my stove for 30 minutes and the result was hoisin sauce heaven.
Maybe you have something special waiting in the dregs of your fridge? The product doesn't have to resemble hoisin sauce–I think all sauces are a unique treat. Try blending a batch and adjust the flavors with some salt, fat, acid, and sweet–maybe even a little peanut butter for texture, until you have something that says "Smack!" in your mouth. And if that doesn't happen? Chuck it! You will be astounded by the amount of newly liberated space in your fridge, which you will want to clean immediately and thoroughly. You will feel so empowered by this remarkable energy that you will be compelled to bust out of February’s cabin fever and book a trip—anyplace that gets you ready for dead.
I’d love to hear from you—feel free to send your comments to me!