I’m a great housewife, if I say so myself. Nothing thrills me more than inviting people for dinner and being hostess for an evening. I love gardening, fixing up houses, even cleaning them. Correction — I love how I feel when they’re clean — big difference. Having all day to frame my favorite photos and decorate my living room would be a dream for me, but it ain’t happening.
I was born 40 years too late. I know everyone says it’s better now that women have the choice to work or stay home, but unless your husband is really raking in the dough, even that’s not necessarily true. And it is damned hard to both work, and be a homemaker. Something always suffers — like your children’s mental health, your job, or Pasta Sundays.
Even though my kids are pretty much all grown up (I’ll never stop honing them) I still like to make meals so they and their friends can join me in eating and spending time together, because I am my mother’s daughter. But so far, the score is tied:
Pasta Sundays – 5
Mean Ass Life – 5
(A full pasta meal with guests gets me 3 points. A pasta meal eaten alone gets me one point because — well, at least I cooked. Mean Ass Life gets 3 points if there is no cooking, and one point if there is cooking but no dining together.
As you know, my first attempt at a Pasta Sunday left me at the kitchen table with my Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Pasta, and my daughter upstairs finishing a term paper.
My second attempt went wonderfully. Milena, her boyfriend Reef, and her friends Jackie and Dado were there, along with my son, Anderson (who got cut out of this photo on the left) .
We ate, antipasto with Sopressata and Mortadella, dry-cured black olives,and Asiago cheese, Sauteed Zucchini with Thyme, Caprese salad, Pasta with Slow-Cooked Pork and Italian Sausage Tomato Sauce, a lovely salad with my favorite homemade balsamic dressing and Pasta with Pesto. We talked, ate, drank and life was good, plus I made some fantastic Garlic Bread. It was a lot of work and I passed out immediately after the dishes were done, but it was well worth it. I don’t know how my mom did it!
The Sunday after that, I worked from 2:30 to 6:30, so Pasta Sunday had to wait because I didn’t feel like cooking and young people are barely up by 12, let alone ready to eat a big meal. Mean Ass Life got three points that day.
And last Sunday, family togetherness was not in the stars. I am forbidden to say why, but let’s just say I’m very certain my daughter is not, and probably never will be, a slave to housework like I was raised to be. The upside is, she will prioritize better than I have and be a success in life – hopefully supporting me someday when I’m toothless and haggard. The downside is, if she ever has roommates, they will probably have cloven hooves.
Snippiness doesn’t make for a joyous, loving Pasta Sunday, but I cooked anyway and sat alone in my kitchen, relaxed and enjoyed a lovely glass of the wine my brother Bernie sent, along with a big bowl of Pasta with Leeks, Squash and Sausage in a very light cream sauce. It was heavenly. There were squirrels on the tree branches outside my window, and Topper was underfoot, hoping food would fall, so technically, I wasn’t totally alone.
God love Bernie, he sent me a case of wine — some bottles are his, one was from Uncle Richard and a couple are from my brother Bob — they all make their own wine. It was the best gift ever and I feel like I’m with family every time I drink a glass, (which seems to be more often these days).
Tensions have thawed, and Milena seems to like me again. Maybe we can plan a pasta Sunday for this coming week. I’m hoping to make lasagne. If it doesn’t happen, I will continue to look with longing back at the days when I was a kid, my mom was a homemaker and life was great — for me anyway.
Fantastic Garlic Bread
1 loaf of Italian bread, thickly sliced
1 stick (1/2) cup butter (softened)
4 large cloves garlic finely minced
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley slightly packed
1/4 cup grated parmesan romano blend (keep this separate)
Mix the butter, parsley, and garlic together thoroughly. Take the slices of bread and lay them down on a cookie sheet or broiler pan. Take a pastry brush and dip it in the butter, garlic, parsley mixture and spread it on one side of the bread. Sprinkle each piece with about 1 tsp. of the grated cheese. Place the bread under the broiler for a few minutes (KEEP CHECKING IT – I TURNED TWO GOOD PIECES INTO CHARCOAL BY NOT PAYING ATTENTION!) When it’s toasted golden brown on the edges, it’s done. Enjoy! (This will be enough to spread on about 8 large pieces of bread.)
Penne with Leeks, Sausage and Squash
(Leeks can be very dirty, so be sure to wash them thoroughly. Slice off the top dark green part — it can be tough) and chop off what they call the beard (root) at the bottom. Then slice the leek (vertically) from top to bottom, in half then half it again. Place the leek in a long pan of water so all the dirt come out from between the layers. Drain it, rinse it, then dice it into pieces about 1 inch long.
2 leeks diced
2 yellow crookneck squash or Italian squash (sliced to about 1/2 inch thickness)
1/2 lb loose Italian sausage
3/4 lb penne pasta ( you could use the whole pound, but I wanted it more veggie, less pasta)
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Heat a large pan of salted water for the pasta.
Take the leeks and place them in a large skillet with 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Saute them on medium heat until they just start to brown. Set them aside.
In a separate pan, fry the sausage until it is thoroughly cooked. Add it to the sauteed leeks.
(The water should be boiling by now, so add the pasta.) When draining, reserve at least one cup of pasta water for later.
In another pan, place 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium skillet. You may sprinkle the zucchini with dried or fresh thyme (I used dried) and saute the zucchini until it just starts to brown. Remove it from the pan and add that to the leek, sausage mixture.
When the pasta is cooked, transfer the pasta, along with the leek, sausage, zucchini mixture to a much larger skillet, and stir to combine over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of pasta water and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream.
Mix pasta thoroughly until heated through. If it’s too dry, add more pasta water. Sprinkle it with cheese, stir to combine, then serve.
You can add crushed red pepper flakes to spice it up. I serve mine in this ridiculously cute container I got at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Sadly, I don’t see it online. You’ll just have to go there!