Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The world just doesn't need another food blog (but here's my favourite early summer dinner recipe anyway)

You know how there can be a dish you really love for a few years and then it somehow falls out of rotation and then you bring it back and it's so damn good you wonder why on earth you ever let it go?

Linguine with asparagus and lemon cream is that dish for us.

Shortly after we got married, Christopher came home with a Donna Hay cookbook that had been sent to his office. We both fell in love with it, enjoying the inspiration of newish, vaguely Asian flavours and loving the large format and excellent photo styling. One dish that caught our eye was this pasta with lemon cream sauce and asparagus, and I duly set forth to make it from the recipe.

Which is where the problem starts because I have some sort of recipe-attention-deficit-disorder and can rarely follow one all the way through. What I should do, of course, is make a particular dish to exact recipe the first time around and then tinker with it, and sometimes I do, but more often I get halfway through and decide to tinker.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I did make the lemon cream pasta according to Hay's recipe the first few times and it kind of worked but never very well. There were always two issues for me -- (one), the sauce involves, if memory serves, equal parts cream and stock and the sauce always ended up thin and soupy except for the addition of (two) parmesan, which I always added when the heat was too high and would end up with those horrific strings of cheese that happen when the liquid is too hot, do you know what I mean? The only way I've ever been able to make non-stringy cheesy sauce is to make a proper white sauce with roux and then add the cheese, but that wouldn't really work here.

So, after throwing the book against the wall and starting from scratch using my instincts instead, I devised a simplified version of Linguine with Asparagus and Lemon Cream Sauce.

enough asparagus for two
enough linguine for two
zest of one lemon and the juice of half the lemon
tablespoon of butter and maybe, if you've got a really nice one, a dollop of olive oil
one clove garlic, chopped finely OR grated to slush on a microplane
1/2 to 3/4 cup of cream (I used half & half but go to town if you've got heavier cream on hand)
good parmesan
large pot of boiling, salted water
salt and pepper to taste

Trim woody ends off your asparagus and discard, then cut asparagus into 1-inch segments. Toss in boiling salted water and cook until crisp-tender. Lift out of the boiling water (you need the water for your pasta, after all) with a slotted spoon or similar tool and place in a bowl of cold water to stop it cooking.

Throw your pasta in the boiling water you cooked your asparagus in. In the ten minutes you've got while the pasta cooks, melt the butter (and the dollop of olive oil, if you want) in a sauce pan on low heat, then throw in the zest, garlic and lemon juice. Whisk to make sure everything's all melty together and then pour in cream, whisking to incorporate all the ingredients together. Let it cook for a bit on low heat.

Drain your pasta when it's done. Squeeze a bit more lemon juice from the other half of the lemon over the hot pasta and toss. Pour the garlicky lemony cream over top and toss to make sure every strand is coated. Drain your cooked asparagus and add to the pasta. Grate fresh parmesan over top and add some good coarse cracked black pepper. Plate up and serve with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Enjoy the adulation.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Life in Melonville

You know how people talk about six degrees of separation? I have a friend who likes to say that here in Melonville it is more like 3 1/2. Ain't it the truth.

I have a niece who recently began dating a new guy. Not a brand new guy, like not a newborn, the guy has been on the planet for a number of years now, he is just new to her. Okay.

Wouldn't you know it, his grandmother and her grandmother ( my mother) are church friends. Of course they are! This is Melonville! This Sunday after Mass my mom made her way to New Guy's grandma to celebrate yet another match that will keep the Melonville bloodlines intertwined.

My mother went on and on about what a lovely girl my niece is. His grandmother thinks he hung the moon.


Then it happened. New Guy's grandma, pulled my mom aside, apart from the crowd. She needed my mom to know that New Guy is indeed a peach. Lovely boy. Good job. Loves his grandma....but....BUT...she needed to know if my mom had seen him yet. No? Well, then she needed to know, and please remember he is a lovely boy, lovely, but well, seems he...have I mentioned what a peach he is? Because he is, it's just that he's ummm........



I kind of blanked out at this point in the story. For all I know one or more grandmothers needed to be revived with smelling salts and the priest may or may not have administered a therapeutic belt of altar wine.

And my husband wonders why I want our kids to spend as much time away from here as possible.


Friday, June 11, 2010

So yes, Kara and I did spend top off an unbelievably great day of kateandkara time with Eddie Izzard. Sweet Lady Gaga, but he makes me melt, you have no idea. George Clooney gives me butterflies, but Eddie MELTS me.

If there was any way I could get to NYC to see him in Race I would be there in a heartbeat....sigh.

Okay, see here is the problem. I had this really great rant in my head, and now I am all about the Eddie. Now I have to go and get some fresh air and have a tea and maybe go buy some groceries and try to refocus.

I'll be back later.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


(Also, Kate and I went to see Eddie Izzard last night and I must say, there's nothing sexier than a man in stilettos and full makeup who makes you laugh 'til you cry.)



Fat & Happy

So, I don't know if you remember, but last spring I was all gung ho (do you ever look at a phrase like gung ho and wonder who the hell came up with it? But then, that's what wikipedia is for. Anyway...) to lose weight and regain the basic shape of a human and be fabulous and wear wrap dresses without needing high-tensile foundation garments and reacquaint myself with my ankles and all that jazz?

Yeah, that SO didn't last.

I still go to the gym, mainly because in a fit of ill-advised I Love Exercise! I Will Always Love Exercise! I Will Never Roll Around In Butter Again! enthusiasm I signed myself up for a years worth of once-a-week sessions with a trainer and now I can't get out of it. And, to be honest, I like the guy and it is a great way to start every week, you know all glowy and virtuous and pure (translation: sweating 'til I'm blind and breathing stertorously through open mouth like a beached carp). And I even managed to do some classes a few weeks ago and they didn't kill me or make me cry or put me in the hospital. But as the weight slowly ounces its way back on to my 40 year old ass, the guilt about not staying with the program grows and I wonder why the hell I can never stick to this kind of thing.

It seems that I have a problem staying motivated, at least when it comes to mortification of the flesh types of things.

Last week, my friends Robert and William pointed out to me (over a cup of my excellent strong coffee with cream and a pile of fresh baked pain au chocolate that they brought with them, you know the kind where there's so much butter in the pastry that the paper bag turns translucent and the good dark chocolate just oozes out? Mmmmm, that kind.), that when I started going to the gym I was very unhappily employed in a job that couldn't have suited me less, but feeling trapped by the excellence of the salary and benefits. I couldn't leave the job, indeed every attempt to find a new one failed miserably, and I just had to do something for myself that would allow me to accomplish something. So, I started the exercise and diet program and got all high on endorphins and achievement and the thrill of seeing my waistline emerge after many years of hibernation and all was right with the world.

But I couldn't keep it up. Weight-wise, I flatlined for a good half-year or so, which was okay in that I was happy with my size and slightly fine-tuned shape and I always meant to climb back on the wagon of strict eating and exercise habits, but it just never happened. And then my job ended in March and I thought "Hey! With all this free time, I can hit the gym during the day when it's not so busy, this'll be great, I'll be in wicked shape by the time my 40th birthday rolls around in May!"

But that's not what happened at all! Instead of watching what I eat and making daily pilgrimages to the Altar of Fitness, I've been cooking up a storm, perfecting my sourdough breadmaking abilities, puttering around the house and generally enjoying myself. In short, I'm happy. Truly, sickeningly, oh-god-Kara-would-you-ever-just-shut-up-about-it happy. And happy, it seems, is a state that doesn't inspire a whole lot of motivation for me to do the kinds of things required to lose 100 lbs. Now, I'm still much more fit than I was before this all started, much stronger and straighter thanks to the trainer and my now daily habit of long trail walks with the dog, but it would seem that for me at least, happy = fat.

That said, I have a preliminary job interview on Friday. Who knows? I might be back in the rat race sooner than anticipated and that extra avoirdupois might just melt away again.