It was November 2012 and I had to get the house set up in time for Thanksgiving, which I host every year. Mission accomplished. My parents, Alex’s parents, my grandma, and our best friends, sat at my Grandpa’s old drafting table (now our dining table), lit by our original hand painted 1930 chandelier, and we shared a delightful French themed Thanksgiving in our new home. It was beautiful and delicious…. and exhausting. A couple weeks later the dust from the move settled, and the dishes from the feast all back in their proper places, I could finally just admire my new home. I relaxed on my living room couch in my PJ’s, glass of red wine in hand, and I was struck by the beauty of this room. The iris stained glass window is a vibrant blue with specks of orange when the morning sun illuminates the small window. The fireplace, with its original Batchelder tiles, glows a golden orange when lit by a cluster of candles. The wood framed windows are a perfect shade of mahogany, the largest of them framing a giant pine tree much older than this home. This home really is beautiful, and it’s ours. Well, it’s ours for now. We are the current a caretakers of this home, and it’s our job to preserve its beauty.
Lost in wonder, I was suddenly awakened by a knock-knock-knock on the door. It was between 8 or 9pm and (remember) I was in my PJ’s. I called to Alex to see if he might spare me the embarrassment of answering the door in said attire. No luck. I cracked the front door open, trying to hide my PJ’s behind the door, and found two smiling men and a welcome bag extended.
How to be Neighborly: Get used to your neighbors seeing you in your PJ’s. It will happen a lot.
Wayne, and Merle behind him, introduced themselves and said “we just wanted to welcome you to the neighborhood….” We said our courteous thanks for the bag and I rushed to shut the door and once again hide my PJ’s from view. I looked in the welcome bag, and there was a list of local amenities, newsletter, homegrown tangerines, and some homemade chocolate bark in cute little mason jars. I put the mason jars on the kitchen counter and went back to the blissful solitude of my living room. Little did I know that Wayne and Merle would soon introduce me to what it meant to be neighborly, and would eventually become two very good friends.
Here’s my version of the perfect chocolate bark.
French Chocolate Bark
- 1 10 oz bag dark or semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup candied ginger, chopped
- 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
- 2 Tbsp pistachios, unsalted
- 2 Tbsp cashews, unsalted
Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Spread on a silpat or piece of parchment paper with an offset spatula to ¼ inch thickness. Sprinkle on salt, ginger, cranberries, pistachios, and cashews. Gently push the toppings into the chocolate. Put in the refrigerator to set. Once hard (it will snap into pieces), break into pieces and enjoy. If there’s any left, share with your neighbors.