I have lived in Texas for five months now (I thought it was six, got WAY too excited about being here for ½ a year, actually counted and then remembered that math isn’t a strength of mine). Regardless, five months is long enough to begin to feel like maybe, just maybe, this place is becoming my home.
I know what routine feels like down here. My dog has learned the trees. I have learned the streets. I’m already a baby when it comes to the weather. And I say y’all and folks.
I’m a full-blown Texan. (ha)
Although I know I will always be a PNWer at heart, I’ve come to love the idea of being a Texan…wait, let me clarify, I love the idea of being an Austinite.
Here is why:
- This city is alive. It’s vibrant. It shines.
- The food trucks are open late and serve fare that is making me drool as I type this. Just the other night, in the back of Cheer Up Charlies, I got two giant freshly made spring rolls with peanut sauce. At 2 am. IPA and spring rolls on a warm January evening. This is what bliss looks like.
- You can swim nine months out of the year. For a town where summer is a literal oven, the number of natural bodies of water in this town is astounding. Spring fed pools, worthy of night swimming adventures. Paddle boarding, kayaking, and floating down the river with a beer in hand.
- People smile at you when you’re walking down the street. Small talk is made when you buy your groceries. The handshakes are firm. The sunshine makes people happier. I can get down with all this joy.
- Young people are everywhere. Austin is the fasting growing city in the USA, and a majority of those people are 20-somethings, looking for new. Similar to me, when you ask people why they moved to Austin, a usual response is, “I needed a change, and Austin was it.”
- Austin is it.
Homesickness comes and goes. Seattle is in my bones. We got in a sample of beard oil at work the other day (my job RULES), and it smelled like pine trees and cedar. I ached for flannel and damp days. My co-worker joked that all a man would have to do is douse themselves in beard oil and I’d be theirs.
You can take the girl out of Seattle, but you can’t take Seattle out of the girl.
But I’m working on it. I went to a blue grass show and stomped my feet, drank a lone star, and whooped and hollered with the rest of them. I am falling for the combination of denim and worn-out cowboy boots. I am soaking up the warm winter evenings, and days that leave my skin freckled and alive.
Today I went on a “hike” with my dog. As he ran around avoiding cactuses, I realized how familiar all of this seems, and how that’s such a welcome change.
I celebrated this with a giant bowl of soba noodle salad and a good cuddle session with the puppy.
It’s good to feel this alive.
Soba Noodle Salad
- 12 oz of buckwheat soba noodles
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- 4 carrots, shredded
- ¼ red cabbage, chopped
- Bunch of scallions, chopped
- 2 cups of kale or mixed greens
- 1 package of tofu, cut into squares
It’s become a habit of mine to get all the excess water out of the tofu. It makes it more dense, and easier to cook with. To do this, I wrap the tofu in a clean dish towel, put it in between two plates, and then put all my cookbooks on top of that and let it sit for 30 minutes.
So if that sounds like a good idea to you, do that first. If not, don’t. Easy enough. Either way, cut the tofu into small squares.
Next, make the dressing. Combine the soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil, rice vinegar and honey together. Whisk and set aside.
Then cook the noodles. Bring a pot of water to a boil, and once boiling add in the noodles. They cook in about 8 minutes. Drain the water and put the noodles into a bowl.
Chop all your veggies and get your tofu ready. Take the remaining 1 tbsp sesame oil and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, and splash some extra soy sauce on top. Let cook for about 4 minutes and then flip, so each side of the tofu gets a nice crispy outside.
Once the tofu is done, toss the veggies and tofu with the noodles and add the dressing. Mix everything together and enjoy. This is a perfect salad to eat for days and days, as it tastes better cold. Hip hip for dishes where the leftovers are better.
* Note: I always listen to This American Life when I cook, the episode I listened to today was about pig rectums. I DO NOT recommend this. However, catching up on podcasts in the kitchen is heaven.