Creamy orecchiette with peas, pancetta, and mint

January 17, 2012 § 17 Comments

The first thing that Joel and I did together that could be classified (however questionably) as a date involved sitting at his kitchen table for 6 or 7 hours stuffing envelopes.  Not exactly romantic in the, ahem, classical sense.  In fact, I’m still trying to sort through exactly how he convinced me that that would be a worthwhile use of my day.  But, it did give us plenty of time to talk, and talk and talk and talk.  About literature, our personal histories and scandals, politics, friends, hopes and aspirations.

Good stuff.

He learned about me that I have trouble telling apart left and right, probably due to a brain lesion that I somehow acquired without even realizing it.  I had to use this to justify the fact that I accidentally put the stamp in the wrong corner of a stack of something like 100 envelopes.

I learned about him that he considered himself a connoisseur of macaroni and cheese.

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Simple meatloaf

November 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

Sooner or later, all of us have to grapple with the great question of “what shall I do with this pound of ground beef and pound of ground pork I have left from my last month’s meat CSA delivery.”  Right?  What?  You’ve never asked yourself that?  Well, shoot.  And here I thought that that was one of those universal things that connected us all across national and ethnic boundaries.  Well anyway, I at least found myself asking that very question on Monday night.  That’s a lot of meat to deal with, and something had possessed me and prompted me to defrost it all!  I had formed a plan to make Norwegian meatballs, but when faced with the actual prospect of cooking dinner after a looong day, suddenly even something as simple as shaping little spheres of meat with my hands seemed like more detail work than I could handle.  That’s how I wound up making meatloaf.

Overall, I’m really suspicious of most anything that’s a loaf if it isn’t bread.  Something about it just seems wrong, somehow.  (And it completely defies my imagination to think about why the rock artist Meat Loaf ever chose that as his stage name.  I mean, seriously??)  But, at the end of that particular day, mixing the meats up with some spices and just shoving them into a bread pan was about all the dedication to the culinary arts I could muster.  So, meatloaf it was.  Let’s just say I was being retro-chic.  And, besides, something doesn’t become a classic piece of Americana for absolutely no reason.  When it comes down to it, meatloaf is incredibly easy, and there is no law on the books saying it has to be a bland, heavy lump of meat.   You can go ahead and make it as flavorful as you please!  And I discovered that if you start with good quality meat it really doesn’t take much to make a scrumptious and satisfying supper.  I took the spices I would have used if I had made the meatballs and blended them into the meatloaf instead.  I added in some ketchup and mustard – if they’re good on a burger, they should be good in a meatloaf, right?  And then I threw some bay leaves on top to perfume the loaf as it baked.   « Read the rest of this entry »

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