Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Sparkle and the Real
I know it's the season of "fa la la la" but I've been craving real food. Real food is pasta with maybe a meat and some vegetables. It goes into one pot. I'm sated. It's easy. Spicy Italian chicken sausages for heat, greens for reality and pasta for pleasure.
Citrus Italian Knot cookies - just a tad sweet. Puffy and melting in your mouth. Cookies don't always need to go crunch. A touch of sparkle and a lot of pliable - and easy.
My sister and I (mostly my sister) sold a home, emptied a house and my last drive home from the townhome was filled with glimpses of 26 years of baptisms, birthdays, holidays and I was able to give Thanksgiving. For all those years.
Because we did not have enough to do, we brought this into our home.
When he is pouncing on my head and jumping into the soup (gives a new meaning to "Beautiful Soup"), he is called Binky-Boy.
Pippin is not thrilled. (In case you were wondering, not every pampered house cat wants a new friend.) Four days after his arrival, Paul and I left for Iowa for a production of By Candlelight at Bettendorf High School. I got to be a visiting playwright for four days and Kirsten got to stay home and referee Pippin and Luce. After four days, Kirsten declared she couldn't possibly be a "crazy cat lady" (as was previously feared) because it was too exhausting.
I came home grateful for having time with teens and theatre (it's coming home for me).
During the candlelight vigil, "I Think it's Going to Rain Today" was played in the background. And after the final scene, the names of all those "lost" in 9/11 were scrolled on screens as Leonard Cohen sang "Hallelujah." The cast walked on. Nobody applauded. You could hear a pin drop. And the cast learned that sometimes silence is better than applause. It was "the Real."
Back home with very mad Pippin and the little Tazmanian Devil, Feliway became my best friend. It says it calms cats.
And on alternate Sundays it does. And when it doesn't - there's always pasta. It's not really a recipe if you're Italian - you throw these things together all the time - but it is always real. Stable. Substantial.
PASTA AND ACCESSORIES: Chicken Sausage, Bow-Ties and Spinach - serves 4-6 (in my home - 4)
little bit of olive oil
little bit of garlic and shallots or onions or all
1 pound spicy chicken sausage - cut into 1/2"-1" rounds
1/4-1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
8 cups spinach or Kale or Swiss Chard
1 pound bow-ties or favorite pasta (rotini would hug the accessories)
Save some pasta water
Herbs - your choice
Cook pasta according to directions. (Boom! Done!)
Heat olive oil and quickly saute your aromatics (garlic, shallots, onion) until soft. Add chicken sausage and and brown on both sides. Add broth or wine and stir to remove brown bits. Add spinach and stir till wilted.
Drain pasta saving a little pasta water. Add pasta to large skillet. Throw in fresh herbs at the end of cooking (parsley, basil, thyme) or dried Italian herbs at the beginning with the sausage. If dry, moisten with pasta water. Serve.
I've never been a fan of chicken sausage. Gold 'n Plump sent me a huge package in the spring - all natural, locally grown, family farms and I agreed to try them. I've always loved turkey sausage (although as I write this, I hear a specific Italian blogger largely singing "nooooo" in the distance) but chicken sausages have eluded me. They have improved in the last ten years (the last time I tried one). I will be writing more about this - which will be my last "gifted" blog. I was surprised and enamored by the chicken sausage - not greasy - but not pasty and tough and bland as the previous ones I had. Do you know you're not eating pork? Absolutely. Do you care? No. (I still hear a certain someone crying "noooo" in the wilderness.)
here. Because there are times you want sparkle. Without being blinded by it.