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Untitled Number 11

No matter how carefully I start packing for a move, I always wind up shoving random papers and electronics into a duffel bag at three in the morning, like a covert operative who’s not sure what the point of the raid is.

I was organized at the beginning.  I wrote “DOCUMENTS” on a box in black marker, and whenever I found a bank statement or an insurance policy, I put it in there.  But as the day wore on, I panicked.  Questionable pieces of paper started making the cut: the instruction manual for the toaster oven, coupons for my favorite cereal, temporary tattoos from a kid’s birthday party.  By evening I was arranging spatulas and whisks on top of our tax returns and wondering if I should should cross out “DOCUMENTS” and replace it with something more accurate, like “UNTITLED NUMBER 11.”

One of the things that made it into the box was a DOCUMENT from my childhood called “Pooh’s Little Instruction Book.”  It’s full of life advice like:

Always watch where you are going.  Otherwise, you may step on a piece of Forest that was left out by mistake. 

And

When checking your Heffalump Trap for Heffalumps, be sure to bring along a piece of string to lead them home with.

And

When you’re visiting a friend and you find that it’s time for a little smakerel of something, try looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard.

I’d wager that you, my friends, are looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard, so I’ve prepared a smakerel of something for you.

orzo salad It’s a colorful orzo salad that we’ve taken to many outdoor concerts and picnics this summer.  It’s packed with tangy sun-dried tomatoes, briny Greek olives and feta.  The recipe makes a lot, can be prepared in advance, and tastes great for days.

Orzo Salad with Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes & Feta {Download & Print Recipe}
Adapted from a recipe in Susan Spicer’s Crescent City Cooking
Don’t skip the celery in this–the crunch it adds is great.  If you don’t have sun-dried tomatoes, you can cut cherry tomatoes in half and use those instead.  I think the flavors are fullest if you serve the salad at room temperature. 

Ingredients:

1 lb. orzo

1 c. crumbled feta cheese

1/2 c. sun-dried tomatoes, plumped in hot water for 20 minutes and then minced

1/2 c. kalamata olives, pitted and sliced lengthwise

3 stalks celery, diced

1/2 medium red onion, diced

5 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

5+ Tbsp. olive oil

2+ Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2+ Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Directions:

Boil the orzo in salted water until it’s al dente.  Empty it into a sieve and run fresh water over it for a moment.  Drain it.  Put the orzo in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss.  Taste it and add more red wine vinegar if it’s not tangy enough and more lemon juice if it’s not bright enough, and salt and pepper if you think it needs it.  Serve the salad at room temperature.

The next day, some of the zip of the salad will have been absorbed into the orzo, so you might want to add more vinegar or lemon juice or salt to revive it a little.

~~~

Thunder sleeping“When in doubt, keep in mind that ‘O gallant Piglet Thunder’ is always a very thoughtful way of beginning a piece of poetry.”

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35 Comments Post a comment
  1. Love the Pooh references!!
    Not sure what orzo is!! Please advise. Is it like Yak or a Swiggle!! Help!!

    August 14, 2013
  2. Could be that I just happen to be hungry right now, but that looks super yummy. And Pooh advice just never ceases to be of value, regardless of how old we get. 😉

    My heart goes out to you on the whole moving thing. When we last had to do it, over a decade and a half ago, I found myself in a similar situation to you. I started out super organized. I numbered every box and kept a notebook filled with those numbers and what each box contained. Then my hubby got all freaked out about us not getting things packed up fast enough and started rushing me, which left us with a lot of “untitled” boxes. Turns out we wound up packed up and moved out DAYS before we actually needed to be with a bunch of random boxes that we had absolutely no idea of the contents thereof. When it came time to unpack all those boxes, hubby just kept on saying how sorry he was for not letting me keep things organized. It got very old opening a dozen different boxes looking for the slotted spoon we desperately needed at that exact moment and finding nothing but dusty knick-knacks and five year old receipts for a pack of gum and a gallon of milk.

    August 14, 2013
    • Man, you’re really speaking my language. I really told myself I was going to throw things out ON THIS END, but by the end of the week we were saying “just throw it in boxes! We’ll triage it when we get there!” That was a huge mistake, I’m sure, but I so love unpacking in a new space!

      August 14, 2013
  3. I hope your move went/is going well! The stuffing of random items in boxes is reminiscent of my move, as I keep finding sensical things in nonsensical locations nine months later.

    Re: Orzo. I need a new way to think about it. Maybe it’s texture, maybe it’s that it’s often served cold, but I find that requiring such a large spoonful to be a satisfying chew it reminds me of cereal. I don’t know where the block comes from, but it’s biggie. This looks delightful, though I may try a different type of pasta.

    Welcome to the ‘hood!

    August 14, 2013
    • You know what might work? Israeli cous cous. Or just regular cous cous. Or ditalini? Or little wagon-wheels? I know what you mean. Orzo can just be so slippery, I guess.

      August 14, 2013
  4. I love orzo pasta. And I can totally relate to the packing thing. We even hired movers this last time and they managed to pack things so haphazardly we couldn’t find our digital camera for three years. Three YEARS. We thought somebody must have walked off with it. I suggest writing in very large letters which box your camera, underwear, and pets are in. Those are the three most important things in life.

    August 14, 2013
    • Well at least I know this: the pets like to eat our underwear, so I’m sure we didn’t put them in the same box. Whew!

      August 14, 2013
  5. I’m super organized but the husband is not. The last time we moved all my boxes were carefully labeled and all his boxes were labeled “Random” 😉

    August 14, 2013
    • Ha! What a mess that must have been. But I trust he has other life skills that get him far?

      August 14, 2013
  6. Pat Ammons #

    I had friends help me pack for my last move. We drank margaritas as we packed so the labels on the boxes became more and more interesting as the night wore on. I found boxes noted “Shoes,” “More Shoes,” and “Oh My God, More Shoes” as I unpacked. I hope you get settled nicely in your new space, and thanks for the yummy looking salad recipe. Don’t forget us down here in Alabama.

    August 14, 2013
    • I love this strategy. As you label your boxes, think about what will make you laugh on the other end. It’ll be like little love notes to yourself and to Scott.
      And, of course, the dogs will be helping…

      August 15, 2013
  7. This greek salad inspired orzo dish sounds lovely. Thanks for sharing the great recipe

    August 14, 2013
  8. make sure you open the box labeled ‘FOur YeAR Oldz’ first…
    miss you!

    August 14, 2013
  9. Your smakerel looks like just the thing to keep you fueled for all that packing. Good luck!

    August 14, 2013
  10. Nice recipe! I might even try it out for a potluck-ish party I’m hosting this weekend (ok, it’s my own birthday party…), except I *would* be tempted to skip the celery despite your admonition not to… I wonder if I could use cucumbers, scallions, or bell pepper instead?

    Oh and packing is the WORST. (I happen to love un-packing, though.)

    August 14, 2013
    • Update: I made this! With a red bell pepper instead of celery… and it was delightful. 🙂

      August 18, 2013
      • Aha! Bell pepper for crunch instead of celery was a good idea. I’m so glad you made it! Would you suggest any changes? Was the vinegar enough/too much in your opinion?

        August 19, 2013
        • I like things on the tangy side, so I used a little extra lemon juice and red wine vinegar, like you suggested, but otherwise no, it was great!

          August 19, 2013
  11. Hi eggton,
    I personally love Orzo Salad and have my own great recipe for it. I roast pumpkin and capsiucums instead of sund-dried tomatoes, but also use olives (green and black) and heaps of feta. Celery and sundried tomaotoes sound like a nice idea though. I might give them a try next time I’m making one. Thanks.

    August 14, 2013
  12. I love it that you used the word smakerel. That made me laugh and made my day. 🙂 I also love the pictures of your dogs and the end of the blog. Thanks for making me smile! ~ Gina

    August 14, 2013
  13. I’m with Allison, not a big fan of celery so I thought you must be reading my mind when you said not to leave it out. Which was spooky. That salad looks delicious and the best part of pasta salads is that they ARE better the next day.

    I don’t even know where to start commiserating on the packing and unpacking. But I am glad that you get that little frission of excitement unpacking in a new place. That’s got to be the only upside for me, making things fit in the new abode and discovering the new world around me. Enjoy!

    August 14, 2013
  14. Veronica #

    Really looking forward to trying this recipe. I have a similar one using penne pasta.

    We’re also in the process of packing for a move. We moved into the house as a couple and are moving out as a family of four. It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulated! We’re just labeling the room that we want the box to go in. I’ll print out labels for each door so all our friends can match the right box to the right area.

    August 15, 2013
  15. jenny_o #

    The post and the comments are cracking me up!

    We’ve helped our daughter move eight times (I think; it’s fuzzy in places) in five years of apartment living while at university (she has health issues). I’ve discovered I really like packing, but I really and truly dislike unpacking … what does that say, I wonder. Good luck with it all, and thank you for the recipe. Salads are a great way to get through hot weather.

    August 15, 2013
  16. This looks AMAZING. Simple but totally delicious. I’m trying this TODAY!

    August 17, 2013
  17. Dayna #

    Hope it’s good, I’m taking it to a potluck at a vineyard tomorrow. Is this enough for 6 adults to share and all have some? I bought supplies for a double batch just in case…

    August 17, 2013
    • Hi! Just saw this (my brother got married this weekend!) and am sorry I wasn’t able to reply in time. I guess you discovered that it’s definitely enough for 6 adults? Did you like it? (Honestly, now…) Your party sounds amazing. What else did people bring?

      August 19, 2013
  18. First, I’m gunna have to make that salad for Rosie Beaucoup. She’s obsessed with orzo, and thinks she discovered it. She also recently discovered Jamie Oliver, so here’s hoping his career will finally take off.

    I can’t ever move again. My entire house has become Untitled Number 11. Except, it’s all in piles rather than boxes. My brother and sister got me a gift certificate for cleaning services at Christmastime. I’m just getting around to using it this week. I wonder what the cleaning team will say when they see all of the Untitled Number 11 around my house… Never mind. They’ll probably just look wistfully at a cupboard.

    August 18, 2013
  19. Your recipes are so simple but interesting! I can’t wait to try this one out – finally tackling orzo will be an accomplishment 🙂

    August 19, 2013
  20. Margaret B #

    Ok, I’ll become a Commenter.

    THIS was one of your more brilliant segues: “When you’re visiting a friend and you find that it’s time for a little smakerel of something, try looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard.
    … I’d wager that you, my friends, are looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard, so I’ve prepared a smakerel of something for you.”

    Thanks for bringing your own smackerel the other day. It was great to see y’all.

    August 22, 2013
  21. Lise #

    I made this for a picnic and I did like it, but I would make a few changes. I would use maybe half the box of orzo. And I peel the celery to get rid of the strings.

    September 1, 2013
    • Lise, thanks so much for your comment! Yeah, it does make a LOT of salad, so half the box or orzo is probably a very good idea. I’ll make a note of that in the forward to the instructions. And I agree with you on the celery–I always peel mine and didn’t think to write that in the directions. I’ll change that too! Thanks again.

      September 26, 2013
  22. I am catching up on Eggton posts I’ve been woefully neglecting. And since 85% of my stuff is presently in boxes on a truck somewhere that I hope is vaguely within a 50 mile or so radius of me, I had to weigh in. The labeling was going well until I started to pack up the bar, and ended up with several book boxes (because alcohol is heavy, man) labeled “Booze,” “More Booze” and “Dear God With All The Booze.” After that, it devolved into things like, “That Stuff From That One Room” and then I just stopped labeling altogether. I’m not moving into the Taj Mahal for Pete’s sake.

    I can’t wait until I have a functional kitchen again. I will make ALL the orzo salads.

    September 26, 2013
    • Jenny, do you not have a blog? You need to have a blog.

      September 26, 2013

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