Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Happy New Year

I hope you had many heart-warming gatherings over the holiday season.  Or was it the type of Christmas that reminded you of boots?  As in I parenti sono come gli stivali…piu vanno stretti e piu fanno male. Rhyming translation: Family is like a pair of boots, the tighter they are, the more of a pain in your hootch. I’ve known both varieties of Christmas but Grazie a Gesu Bambino this last holiday season was a good one. Not every family gathering can be rapturous and for this, it's good to remember this simple recipe:

~ Start with 2 cups of patience, add a tablespoon of laughter, a teaspoon of thoughtfulness and a pinch of understanding.  Mix all together and serve to everyone you meet. ~ Of course, if this dish doesn't work out, it's always good to keep a couple of firm pillows handy so you can punch the living stress out of your system!

Thank you to the Secret Santa who gave me the pasta buttons you see above. A sweet surprise that's most appreciated. I love them.

December is the warmest month but come January, I feel so much ambivalence. No matter how much thought has gone into finding toe-insulating boots, it's hard to imagine any creature but Caribou is happy to tread outside these days. Mannaggia al'America. Though we have had a mild winter so far—che pasa?  Is it El Nino or are we just warming up the planet by all that extra pasta we’re cooking this time of year? 

I'm working hard to maintain an Attitude of Gratitude and counting on my kitchen comforts to see me through the next eight weeks. Comforts that feel like old friends. Can you relate to this? For example, has your favorite scolapasta ever broken its base?  Two minutes of silence are in order.  Oh no!  Not the scolapasta!  It’s like losing a best friend. It deserves a proper burial for all the al-dente joy it has given us.  True blue scolapasta, I release you to Cucina Heaven.  You will be missed. And now since we go on living, we need to find another just like you. Strong and dependable. 

Where to begin?  It needs to have a base that’s precision leveled, no rough edges, and easy enough to handle with one hand.  If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent as much time shopping for a scolapasta as you have for the perfect pair of shoes.  And you know how long that takes. There are some things I will pay more for and a scolapasta is one of them.  Here are a few other kitchen favorites. 

My oil and vinegar bottles...extra virgin olive oil and two for basic vinegars: red wine and balsamic.

My peperoncino bowl. Well loved by all the cooks in the family.

Mr. BBQ's stack of books that reminds summer is on its way.
No this isn't all of them. He has more.

Since we're stuck indoors most nights, it's TV with channel surfing being our favorite show.  How will we make it through these grey and dreary months?  If I get through last season's episodes of Desperate Housewives, there are two Italian movies I'd like to see before spring arrives. One is La Dolce Vita. I'm not a big fan of Fellini but I've heard it's very good. The other is Mediterraneo directed by Gabriele Salvatores, an Academy Award winner I longed to see years ago when it was released. If you've already viewed them, and you're considering something other than channel surfing, I recommend these three: Stanno Tutti Bene, a bittersweet and memorable story starring Marcello Mastroianni, Johnny Stecchino, a hilarious ride with Roberto Benigni and Nicoletta Braschi and Cinema Paradiso, great nostalgia with Philippe Noiret.

I have no recipes to share with you this time. The careful boxing up and storing of Christmas memories has gobbled up most of my energy. Instead of cooking interesting dinners, I've been wishing Tomie dePaolo's Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot would visit my kitchen. I did spend time browsing through some of my favorite cookbooks on the weekend, however, in case Strega Nona is a no-show. I found inspiration in Chef Pasquale's words: "The chef is like a composer, creating new recipes and adapting old ones to express the individuality that is found in each of us." Which is a very nice way to say: Moms create new recipes to express the lack of time they had to shop for groceries and to ease the panic they feel when dinner hour is almost upon them and there's nothing for the table. The holidays are over and we're slowly getting back to our hectic schedule. See you next week!

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