Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Is that a deal breaker?

We are on the hunt for a house, Adam and I. And what you hear about the real estate market is true: the good homes get snatched up in a flash. At least in the Twin Cities, there's not much sitting out there for sale that's of any interest (if it's been on the market for more than a week, it seems, there's probably a reason). So it's mostly new listings that spark our interest at this point.

I monitor the listings hourly. Ask anyone who has ever thought about buying a home: it's an obsessive practice. And when a new listing pops up that matches our criteria and looks cute, I immediately 1.) get excited, 2.) add it to our favorites list, and 3.) picture Adam and me standing with a SOLD sign on the front step.

Last week, a new listing popped up that met our criteria - a cute little red home in South Minneapolis, near a movie theater and wine bar, a short walk to the river. As I flipped through the pictures, my internal monologue sounded something like this:
3 bedrooms - nice
wood floors - cute
nice kitchen - cute!
nice yard - cuuute!
sunroom, lots of windows - cute, cuuute!!!

There were no other good listings that day, so I was forced to flip through the pictures of the red house again and again, and daydream about the garden I would plant in that cute backyard. Then I decided to click on the See supplements for this property link, which I never do, because it's mostly boring legal documentation - I figure we'll get to that later with our realtor, if we find that we're really interested in the property.

I skimmed through checked boxes reporting no known issue with wells, water damage, etc. And then, there was this:

Um, oh.

Is that a deal breaker?

I think that's a deal breaker.

I told Adam about the house, it's proximity to the wine bar, it's history with meth production. He had the same reaction - to laugh, then pause and ask, Well ... is that a deal breaker? It was probably a long time ago. I'm sure there's protocol for cleaning it up.

I still think that's a deal breaker.

Especially given our unrelenting infatuation with Breaking Bad. I really don't think a meth house is a direction we need to head.

And so the search continues!

I had another almost deal-breaker situation on my hands last week - some turkey meatballs that went awry. I guess I got a little cocky about the other turkey meatballs that I love so much, and thought that I would whip up some sort of Italian turkey meatballs with garlic and spinach - and cover them in tomato sauce for a comforting, healthy dinner.

The turkey meatballs tasted of nothing - just sad little flavorless lumps on a cookie sheet. Ground turkey at its worst. But! The tomato sauce I made to smother them in saved the dinner. It was simple and rich, a touch sweet and classically tomatoey - just the staple thick marinara sauce that I wanted for my repertoire. I piled it on top of the meatballs and scooped it up on slices of baguette to save dinner. I see this as the perfect sauce for smothering chicken parmesan, or good meatballs - any dish that you want to top with a sturdy and flavorful tomato sauce.

But turkey meatballs? Nope.

Classic Tomato Sauce
Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentis

Note: I recommend good quality canned tomatoes here; I used Muir Glenn organic crushed tomatoes with basil

2 tablespoons or so olive oil
Small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, small dice
2 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, to taste
3 tablespoons butter

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 minutes. Add the diced carrot and a pinch of salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, until the carrots soften a bit. Add the cans of tomatoes and bay leaves; heat over medium until the tomatoes bubble, then turn down to low and partially cover the pot with a lid. Cook at a lazy simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and flavors meld, 45 minutes to an hour. Add the sugar, a good pinch or two of salt and the butter; stir and taste. Adjust sugar or salt to suit your preference.

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