Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Grass Is Greener – Everywhere But Here.

Another super simple recipe for my friend Megan -- one pot and seven ingredients -- if you include lemon juice and red pepper flakes.

Lionel, our now 14-pound indoor cat, got out again yesterday.

I retrieved him fairly quickly  this time – not because I’m particularly fleet of foot, but because I’m patient and he, well, he was distracted.  He started out well enough, zipping past the catnip flourishing by the door, but then, couldn't make it another five feet before being waylaid – by a leaf, a twig, a bug, the “outsideness” of it all. 

Poor kitty.  His furry fanny was tossed back inside before he set paw off the driveway.

I can’t help but laugh.  That cat spends most of his waking hours, which admittedly aren’t many, lurking by the back door, plotting his getaway.  But why?  Inside, he’s kitty king – with his choice of canned or dry food, a cat condo, and two litter boxes.  Not to mention access to every bed and sofa when we’re home, and every countertop and table when we’re not.

All that, and yet, he yearns to be outside.

Josie, the rescue dog, is of like mind – although she only has access to the beds and sofas when we’re not at home, and the counters and tables when she masters the art of canine levitation.

The grass is always greener, I suppose, somewhere else.

My eyes are blue.  If I believe what folks have told me, they are blue, blue, bluer than blue.   So why, when I was a kid, did I want brown eyes?  As well as braces?  And glasses?

Along these same lines, Son and Darling Daughter would always rather be at someone else’s house.  Sure, there are plenty of extenuating circumstances, what with the divorce and our lack of a hot tub, but I don’t take this personally.  There’s even a Facebook fan page titled, “I’d rather do nothing at your house than at mine.”  Already, 1.6 million fans have signed up.  And counting.

Lucky for me, the exception – for my kids and kids of all ages  – is Mom’s home-cooking.  Sure, there have been incidents where my kids have begged me to get recipes from other friends’ moms.  (Let it be noted, though that on two occasions, the recipe was “boxed Alfredo sauce” and “pre-made mac n’n cheese.")  Still, when it comes to certain dishes, no one does it like your own Mom.  Son and DD love my Sausage Pasta.  My Waffles of Insane Greatness are -- for my kids -- beyond compare.   And they wouldn’t know what do with Pork Fried Rice served in a restaurant.

My former mother-in-law, who was an enthusiastic and accomplished cook, used to tell her son, “You can't talk about my cooking with other women in your life.  Don’t talk about my macaroni and cheese.  Don’t talk about my cheesecake.  It’s just not fair or right.”

I agree.  No one does it like Mom.  Even now, I won’t put a fork to any egg that wasn’t fried by my Mom.  Green tomatoes fried anywhere other than "home" may as well have been left on the vine.  And although it may not be authentic, my Mom’s version of Veal Parmesan prevents me from ordering it in any restaurant.  Ever.

In a way, I suppose, we moms ruin our kids for anyone else.

Take this “Not Clams Linguini.”  Couldn’t be tastier.  Couldn’t be simpler.  And I’m guessing my kids believe it couldn’t be made any better than than it is at home.

The grass may be greener elsewhere, but home is home and dinner is dinner.  And no one wants lawn clippings for dinner.

Not Clams Linguini
Sadly, if you’re wearing braces, linguini – as well as spaghetti, angel hair pasta and vermicelli – can be a challenge to eat, so for now we’re using lots of other pasta shapes, including piccolini.  Wide egg noodles would also work well.

8 oz. piccolini (or slightly more)
4 slices of bacon, diced
2 cans, chopped clams
1 cup chicken broth
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
fresh ground pepper
½ cup (or more) chopped parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions in large pot of boiling, well-salted water.  Drain.  In same pot, cook diced bacon over medium high heat until very crispy.  Remove bacon bits and set aside.  In remaining bacon fat, stir in clams (including juice), broth and seasonings (except parsley).  Bring to a boil.  Stir in cooked pasta and parsley.  Sprinkle bacon bits on top.  Serve hot, making sure to include ample broth in each serving.
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