spaghetti as you like it

January 24, 2011 Comments Off on spaghetti as you like it

So it’s Sunday night, the kids have convincingly argued for a simple pasta dinner, there’s some kind of football game on, and we have all kinds of leftovers.  Just pasta would be kind of boring–no challenge there, right?

The other night I asked O if she had a pasta sauce she wanted to try.  The girl doesn’t really care for noodles unless they’re labeled Asian, so she was noncommittal at best.  “What about a carbonara,” I said, “I’ll bet you’d like that.”

“What’s in it?” she asked, warily.

“Stuff you like.  Bacon and eggs, mostly.”

Mostly?

“Well, and some cheese.  And vinegar and milk, if it’s made properly.”  This last bit I said out of the corner of my mouth.

“Cheese?  Gross.  No way.”

So I told her I’d make a carbonara senza formaggio, which is a traditional Italian meal that I just made up.  It has bacon, it has eggs, it has no cheese.  And, for crying out loud, no milk or vinegar.

The boy was happy to reprise the spaghetti and meatballs from last week.  We had a ton of meatballs sitting in the freezer, and I couldn’t see another good use for them on the horizon.  And me?  I bought a six-pack of cheap Italian sausages for the pizza last week and figured I’d try to use those, somehow.  I remembered a sauce K and I used to make in San Francisco all the time, from an old Williams Sonoma cookbook that was really just sausage, tomatoes, and heavy cream.  With some robust pasta like cavatappi it made a really hearty dinner and it was something either of us could throw together when we were pressed for time.

I gave some thought to the logistics–the meatballs needed browning, the bacon needed sauteeing, but I’d cooked the sausage already.  So I got down the new eco-friendly Cuisinart pans and arrayed them on the stove.  Clockwise from lower right: bacon (awaiting eggs), pasta, meatballs and marinara, sausage and cream.  Everything ended up ready within a few minutes of each other, anyway, and we enjoyed our own private pasta dishes together.  A bit of ballet in the kitchen, but worth it since everyone seemed happy enough with what they got.  The girl mentioned that the eggs and bacon, BTW, would have been just fine without all that spaghetti.  Or, maybe, on ramen.

The sausage and cream sauce made me just a bit wistful for our time in San Francisco.  We had a tiny apartment, and just a galley kitchen, but we cooked together a lot and whipped up some pretty amazing stuff.  This one was one of our changeups–when we got home late or were in a rush.  But I don’t think we’ve had it since we moved to Iowa, and somehow it tasted like California days…

glop on glop on glop

January 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

Mom is an outstanding cook, and we were well fed as kids.  She managed to keep two varsity track runners alive and heavily carbed through high school, and I’m not sure we ever had a box of storebought cookies in the house–they were always homemade.  Not to mention fresh-baked bread and muffins.  She also taught us enough kitchen skills to get through college in style, a lot of which are coming back.

So she sent me the recipe the other day for a dish my brother and I remember–fondly, believe it or not–as “glop on glop on glop.”  It is as follows:

“rice on the bottom, then canned corn, then ground beef, then tomato sauce, then cheese on top.”

I’m not going to try this one on the kiddos just yet.  But since I’m feeling slightly guilty about last night’s takeout dinner it’s comforting to know that apparently even Mom had evenings where she just said the hell with it.

(Hi, Mom…and thanks for the recipe!)

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