Oct 2

Welcome Home

in Kitchen Musings

Pickled Peppers

Transforming a house into a home is not an easy prospect.  First you must pick a house.  Then comes the task of moving in all of the furniture and boxes, followed by the exhausting monotony of unpacking the contents of those boxes.  It’s enough to make one go cross-eyed.  But just because you’ve moved into your new space and finished emptying your boxes does not mean that your house has become a home.  I would assert that a house can become a home long before the last box has been emptied.  For me, the moment of transition comes after I have finished unpacking and organizing the kitchen and have started cooking again.  For me, the kitchen is the heart and soul of a home.  The place where I literally and figuratively nourish myself and my family.  The place where sounds of laughter are often heard, but also the place where serious and earnest conversations occur over a ball of bread dough or a pot of soup.

Fuji Home

As you might remember, the Fuji family has been in the midst of a move from southern California to Lehi, Utah.  The last few days in our California home were weird.  My kitchen had been packed into boxes and we were surviving on what could be cooked in the microwave or eaten cold.  Then we made the trek north, staying at my in-laws’ home briefly while we waited for our moving truck to catch up with us, and then finally moving into our new house.  We moved our boxes in, and began to unpack them, but this new place we were living in still felt strange and unfamiliar.  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of slicing open taped-up boxes, and unwrapping dishes and cooking utensils, the last item was given its place and my new kitchen was officially unpacked.  The rest of the house was still filled with boxes, but the kitchen was finished.  I had grand plans for my first foray into cooking, but then my mother-in-law gave me a bag of peppers from her garden, and my plans changed.

Fresh peppers from the garden

Freshly picked produce waits for no one and I was not going to let this last remnant of summer go to waste.  So I pulled out some pots and got to work.  I roasted and peeled the peppers, packed them into sterilized glass mason jars, then poured a hot vinegar marinade over them.  I lowered the jars into a large pot of boiling water for 20 minutes (our elevation is approximately 4,977 feet, so I have to increase processing time by 10 minutes), then pulled them out to rest overnight.  The next day I checked them to make sure they had sealed, then set the jars in storage.  There they will sit until later when we will enjoy them in the middle of winter, with the ground covered in snow, when fresh peppers from the garden are nowhere to be found.

Canning pickled peppers

Going through the motions of pickling those peppers was a process that was familiar.  The tools I used were all things that have been used many times before and will be used many times in the future.  I realized, as I put those jars filled with brightly colored peppers on the shelf, that our new kitchen space had transitioned into my kitchen space.  Going through familiar motions with familiar tools helped transform an unfamiliar space into one where I belonged.  I find it appropriate that my first act of cookery was to make something that will not be enjoyed for some months to come.  It is an investment, a way of putting down new roots, of dropping our anchor.  Those jars seem to say, “We aren’t going anywhere. This is where we belong.  Welcome home.”

Jars of Pickled Peppers

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.) October 2, 2013 at 6:37 am

Welcome to your new home Rachael! I am sure it will be soon filled with delicious memories!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 3, 2013 at 8:45 am

Thank you Mardi!


Fuji Nana October 2, 2013 at 7:19 am

How wonderful that your first foray into the kitchen involved not just LOCAL produce, but FAMILY produce as well. Happy settling in!


Barbara | Creative Culinary October 2, 2013 at 7:59 am

I am living in a temporary situation waiting for a new home to be finished. It has been a struggle but I decided to wait for the perfect home for me and not dive into one that was already built.

I know that the rest of the place can be filled with boxes but it’s my kitchen I want back more than anything. It’s been a long wait; I’ve been ensconced here since April. My home sold the same day my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and I know I made the right call to stay with friends while we fought that beast but now treatment has been successful and my yearning for my new home is all encompassing. I have dreams of cooking in a space that is literally only in my dreams…I’m glad for you and your family that your dream is now a reality and wish you all the best in this huge life transition. I guess you sure can go home again. XOXO


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 3, 2013 at 8:49 am

@Barb — We came close to building, and then happened upon this house. Yay!! My heart goes out to you. I hate being in limbo, and it must be even worse while you are dealing with something as tramatic as your daughter fighting cancer. But I know you, and you are one tough lady. If anyone can weather the storms of life, I know you can.


robynski October 2, 2013 at 8:10 am

I am so happy you’re getting settled in. Lehi is one of my favorite Utah cities. Before you know it you’ll no longer feel like strangers in a strange land but the tug of SoCal will always be there. Thg fujilings look very happy in the new digs.

Your jars are beautiful! Let me know when you want to try doing some high altitude macaroons. We’re at 5700 ft and I’ve been a bit reticent to waste the almond flour. I have had a conversation with Helen about the process and she’s given me a couple of tips. If you try let me know how they work out.

Welcome to your new home!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 3, 2013 at 8:53 am

@robynski — THANK YOU! I think macarons are definitely on the horizon. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to make a batch. Now that we’re finally settling in, and the move is slowly becoming a memory, I’ll hopefully have some time to take on bigger baking projects!


Lizthechef October 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

A lovely post – welcome home, indeed, and so glad you are settling in. XO


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 3, 2013 at 8:55 am

Thanks Liz! Miss you. It’s been too long since I’ve seen you!


MimiAvocAdo October 2, 2013 at 8:54 am

And now I have “a peck of pickled peppers” repeating endlessly in my head…glad you’re home!


Fuji Mama (Rachael) October 3, 2013 at 8:58 am

@Mimi — So glad I’m not the only one! I was giggling about it the whole time I was canning them!


La Fuji Grandma November 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Too bad California, we have them now! We’re loving it!


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