Monday, May 25, 2009

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Pasta Poison

shrimp-garlic-pasta
This may not look like its poisonous, but believe me, it is. And we ate it for dinner tonight

Ages, eons and centuries ago, when Nick was 5 or 6, we were having dinner at Olive Garden. Nick, as usual, was having Fettucini Alfredo and (gasp!) there was a penne noodle in with his fettucini.

And being the loving, kind-hearted and caring parents we were, Paul and I managed to convince Nick that eating different kinds of pasta together created poisonous toxins. We even got the server to back us up!

Eventually Nick's common sense kicked in, however it took a couple of years. which was nice, because its always good to have easy entertainment as close at hand as a box of spaghetti mixed with a couple of pieces of farfelle.

Now fast forward to tonight. Once again, I found myself with partial boxes of fettuccini, linguini and spaghetti noodles. So I combined them and served them together.

And thus, I have poisoned my family.

Deliciously.

Garlic Lemon Shrimp Pasta

Cook according to directions on box and drain, reserving approx. 1/2 c of the pasta water:
1 box fettuccini (c'mon, be daring and mix in some linguini)

Combine in a bowl and marinate 15-20 minutes
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
3 cloves garlic, crushed
zest from 1 large lemon
2-3 T olive oil

Heat additional 2 T olive oil and 2 T butter in a large skillet
Add 2-3 cloves garlic to oil and saute until it starts to smell delicious
Add marinated shrimp (cook in two batches if necessary to avoid crowding)
Season with salt & pepper

When shrimp is cooked, remove to bowl; set aside.
Squeeze juice from 1 lemon into pan
Add 1/4 cup heavy cream.
Season to taste with salt & pepper
Add a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired.

Add pasta to pan and mix to combine. Stir in shrimp.

Serve with grated Parmesean.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where the Green Grass Grows

This past week has been a challenge.

And yes, in this case, "challenge" is a euphemism for "hellacious".

Paul and I are used to working long, hard hours. When we owned our business in Texas, there were many weeks when we both had to work 60-70 hours, and we would drag ourselves into the house at some horrendous hour and stumble to bed hoping to shut our minds down long enough to get even just four hours of sleep before we had to start all over again.

Those days, those weeks were hard. And because we were both very instrumental and involved in the business, one of us never had a week like that, those weeks hit us both.

Since moving and taking jobs in the "real world", we haven't had a whammy week like that with both of us hit at the same time. Until this past week.

The non-profit I work for had its big annual fundraiser this week, which meant early mornings and late nights. And Paul's company decided to do re-sets of all the area stores, and pulled all store managers in to work twelve-hour long overnight shifts. This meant that on a good day, Paul and I saw each other for 15 minutes between the time he got home in the morning and the time I dashed out the door to work.

But really, this schedule, while exhausting, couldn't knock us down. Nope, we had to find other things to really challenge us.

Like adding a mandatory-participation science fair on the same day as the fundraiser.

And receiving an order of 100 baby chicks of which 40 were dead when delivered, and 4 more died in the next couple of days.

Then, just to really add to the fun, we had a dog cut her paw and run in circles around our living room carpet, necessitating an emergency call to a carpet cleaner because we just didn't have the time/energy to take care of it ourselves. And like the blood stains in Macbeth, these also are reappearing and now we have a hundred little round stains all over the carpet.

But don't forget that we also have a farm to run, and this week required intensive gardening with over 100 tomato plants going in along with numerous other veggie starts and seeds.

AND it was also the first week of chicken processing, with 50 birds needing to be processed and packaged for customers.

And with customers coming to pick up birds, the house had to be at least a little bit presentable, and we had to make that happen.

...

So, here I am at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning, and for the first time in over a week, I feel like my brain has started to return to its normal processing speed. And although most of the muscles in my body are still screaming at me. I can look look back and see that through this past week's screams of frustration, tears of exhaustion and chaos of life, there are certainties all around me.

I am certain that life is good. Through the open door beside me, I see rows of tomato plants, I hear the twittering of birds and the clucking of hens, I feel the calmness of the morning and the peace of the land.

And I am certain that I am blessed. I have an amazing husband who works hard to support us. I have three boys who are growing into strong and capable men, I have parents who step up to help when I'm stumbling.

And so, again, its six in the morning. My house is messy. My carpet is spotty. My laundry is piled up. My cupboards are bare of anything that resembles food and I have no idea where the hens have been laying their eggs lately, but they're not using the henhouse.

But I smile. Because I am certainly happy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Farewell, Betsy

betsy 05 08 09
Betsy was a good hen.

Her gentle clucking as she roamed the yard was so...chirpy. She always kept her black and white feathers so sleek and shiny. She was a model hen in every way.

Betsy, that coyote took you before your time. We will miss you.
feathers

And don't tell the others, but I liked your eggs the best.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Heartbreaking

© 2009 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA

Nick's culinary arts school burned down Tuesday.

Gone.

Demolished.

Nothing left.

His teacher, Chef Becky, lost her knives, her notes and her cookbooks. I'm going to donate the three America's Test Kitchen cookbooks to her. I'll miss them, but they're going to a good cause.

Apparently the other cookbooks she really likes are Jacques Pepin's. I just can't give mine up, though, they were a Mother's Day present years ago.

Also in the same building was the Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Dental Assistant and Computer classes. And everything is just gone. All the kids' work that they've done over the year. It's just so sad.

The culinary class will share the school district's kitchen through the end of the year, and they're hoping to have the facility rebuilt by next fall.

My heart hurts for Chef Becky.

Seis de Mayo

quesadillas_050609_0114
I suppose that after the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Pueblo, they were tired. Too tired in fact, to do much celebrating.

In fact, I'm willing to bet that they waited until the next day to really celebrate their victory.

Which is what I did. I waited until the day AFTER Cinco de Mayo to make our Mexican meal.

So, as you look at these delicious veggie quesadillas, I would like you to keep in mind that I'm not a day late and I didn't procrastinate. I was being empathetic.