Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sunday #8: It Happened on a Monday

Fair Warning: I've had the better part of a bottle of wine. I told myself I couldn't go to bed until this was written. I'm not promising any masterpieces here.


It was a three-day weekend for us office types, and I lazed through Sunday without a thought to what we'd have for dinner that night.

Because I would do it Monday!

And I did, but I really didn't want to. I didn't even plan on taking pictures. I planned on making some lame post here about how it was the sitting down together that counted, and I'd be a better blogger next time.

But I know what that meant. It meant I was working on wienering my way out of this whole blogging thing - and only 7 Sundays in!

This weekend it's the boys' birthday, and next weekend we are having a birthday party on Saturday, which would obviously prevent any sort of dinner making on the following day because of like... cheese and stuff or something. Yeah. The point is I was on my way to setting up a months worth of excuses not to post.

So I told myself to knock it off, and take some pics and blog, dammit.

Not my best work, but here we go!

The Menu:
Shallota Spaghetti Carbonara Something or Other
Strawberry Trifle.

So Rachel Ray did this recipe that called for loads of shallots. When I first made it I just wanted an excuse to use shallots.

See, shallots were these exotic things. I didn't know much about them except that they hung out with the boiler and pearl onions at the Safeway and since they were in the fancy section of  produce land I didn't feel brave enough to use them.

Maybe that seems odd, but I didn't grow up spending much time in the fresh produce section. When we did hit the produce isle it was it was usually for veggie bin staples like onions and potatoes. Once in a while, if we were going to have salad or something we would get iceburg lettuce and a tomato.

Mostly our dinner vegetables came from a can. Sometimes fresh carrots would be featured if mom was making a pot-roast, but that wasn't too often. I probably had more fresh veggies when my Grandma made dinner, but that was usually garden stuff like tomatoes or cukes.

Looking back I guess it made sense. My grandparents came from people who grew a lot of what they ate, and they put up (that's canning to you) their vegetables as soon as they could harvest. Aside from being used to canned veggies, I'm sure the fresh stuff that the supermarkets carried didn't have a lot of value flavor wise. And really, why would you bother with tomatoes that travelled 2000 miles before being gassed to the proper hue if you'd always grown your own.

Shallots. Yes - I'd wanted an excuse to use those for a while. I needed something that gave me clear instruction on how to use them since they were some great big mystery. When I saw Rachel's recipe I knew that was it, that was what I'd been waiting for! I've made it a couple of times since then, and it's always seemed like it was lacking something.

So for my Monday dinner I decided to make the shallot infested pasta but with BACON! Because really, bacon fixes everything.

These are shallots which are totally different than onions and therefore require a new picture.

Man. Have I told you about my burner? My burner, I swear, waits until I turn my back and then it flips me the finger and shuts itself off. Sometimes it does it right in front of me. It's the only big burner so it's really hard to just tell it to eff itself and switch to a different burner.

I started some olive oil and bacon in a deep heavy bottomed pan.  It was sizzling and doing it's thing so I went into the living room a whole ten feet away. I heard a sound. A sound that  sounded like it wasn't making any sound.  The bastard burner had stopped working! I grabbed a towel and fiddle/shoved it around until it connected and heated up again. We have to do this all the time now. God, I hate my kitchen.

I did this for about an HOUR and by then I had been stupid enough to believe it would work and had added the shallots. At one point I was left with sweated shallots, which isn't what I was looking for. It looked like sick, sad, limp, feeble onions swimming in their own ick. I wadded up some paper towel and soaked up the shallot sweat and then dumped it all into my skillet, cranked up the heat, and demanded that it BROWN.

And it did, around a half hour later.

This is all the crap I was dealing with, and it was about this time that I was getting all "screw this, blogs are dumb!"

Oh, also my Kitchenaid stand mixer died. A little piece of me died with it. It wasn't a good weekend for cooks.

About halfway through my fighting every urge to call my stove a cunt and dump dinner and demand we go out to eat I realized that the bacon made this dish sort of like carbonara.

I didn't know much about carbonara, except that there was bacon in it.

So I ran to the computer and  looked it up. I discovered that carbonara is basically* pasta tossed in bacon fat that has a Parmesan cheese and egg mixture whippped into it screaming fast while it's rocket hot to make a tasty sauce free of food born illness.
(*if you’d like to disagree and start babbling about pancetta and that sort of thing, go ahead. I’m pretty confident that I’ve made it clear that I’m a PATRIOT and will totally dilute any culture out of a food’s traditional traditionaliness until it’s nothing but a shadow of its former self. Also, there’s nothing more American than BACON and I can’t afford pancetta. Also – I can find bacon at my Safeway.  Also, the whole time I was making dinner I was fighting the urge to trash it all and demand we go out and have Cheddar Bay Biscuits or the like, so don’t give me shit about it not being “real” carbonara. I will shoot you in the face!)

I started feeling brave.

I got the Parmesan grated, and decided 3 eggs and 1.5 cups of parm would do the trick for the amount of pasta and shallots I had going.

Before adding anything to the noodles  I pulled some aside for Max. I asked Mark to butter them and add a little Parmesan and he picked up a fork full of the egg and cheese mixture thinking it was butter and cheese. "NO!!!" I certainly did not yell in a half-crazed tone. Thankfully my harpy screech was in time to prevent him from tainting the only shallot-free noodles with some sort of food-borne-illness.

Oh yeah - so at some point in the day I decided that this other recipe would be really good. I had the basil and tomato and it seemed like the way to go because I'd leave Mark for a Tomato and Basil Baron.
Somewhere between knowing that we'd have pasta for dinner, and deciding to go with the carbonara-esque dish, I prepped a bowl of tomatoes and basil.

What to do?

I couldn't just leave it in the fridge, it would have turned into macerated tomato slime by the time I got around to doing anything else with it.

So I put it on toasted garlic bread with a heavy sprinkle of grated Parmesan, what else?

Also, I put a small amount in the bottom of my pre-heated bowl and covered it with the screaming hot noodles. The result was warmed-through tomatoes that weren't mealy and gross.

I realize I'm really sucking at the step-by-step thing here. But I am, unfortunately, lacking a food photographer. I could ask Mark but I'd end up yelling at him and being mean. Besides, he usually has a weeks worth of crap to clear off the dinner table so we can sit down. You'll notice I don't have a big picture of the table this time around. It's because it's still covered in crap. It was a very lazy weekend.

So yes, anyway, the picture deal. When you're whipping eggs and cheese into noodles so that they form a delicious sauce and not freaky noodles and egg-curds, you don't have time for pics. But also, I just didn't feel it very much this weekend. I really need to invest more time into planning what we're having for dinner so that I don't find myself scrabbling to put it together until I'm half-way through it and remember I need to take pictures.

Oh yeah - I made a Strawberry Trifle.

It turned out okay. Like, on the lame side of okay. I'll tell you about it later.


  1. Please don't shoot me in the face! LOL

    Your blog is Rad. For reals!

  2. Okay, this one had me in stitches. I'm sorry for how bad the kitchen stuff went, but for what it's worth, the blogging results were hilarious. :)