It has been a pretty soggy spring in the Seattle area. I keep telling myself that the dripage will bring an extra beautiful summer but since my seeds keep getting moldy before they have a chance to sprout, maybe not. I can always be thankful for the evergreen trees, fish and cute rain boots… minus the time that group of senior citizens made fun of them.
I keep wanting to make summer dishes but instead find myself drowning in pots of homemade chicken noodle soup in May and the giggles of senior citizens making fun of my fashionable rain boots in June. I forgive them because they just don’t understand how desperate we are to have fashion while we puddle walk…. that, and they were the cutest group of people I have ever seen.
Desperate for newness, I made this pasta dish the other night. It was delightfully fresh yet still cozy. It sparked a memory in me that I’m going to admit to you now. This is just between you and I so don’t go laughing all the way to Twitter with this or anything, okay? I could lose followers if this gets out. I learned how to properly cook noodles in my thirties. Yep, it’s true.
Okay, you back now? “Human salvation demands the divine disclosure of truths surpassing reason.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas. Yep, pretty sure I have surpassed reason with many things that I have disclosed in my life. I am now healing from the healing process. Anyhow, back to the noodles.
Just in case anyone else is still suffering from the same newlywed wife brain dysfunction that I had, I am about to teach you how to cook noodles.
Gladys, I do believe she must be knee-deep in those ding-dang boots again. She ain’t thinkin’ straight.
Ignore the voices. I understand your dilemma. You are ready for adulthood but you watch as others are trying to smile as they suffer through your first homemade meal but they cannot smile because their teeth are sticking together from your half crunchy, half mushy pasta.
You watched your mom cook all those years. How could you not know how to cook? Girls, it’s because we were teenagers and we thought we knew everything so we only half paid attention. Please allow me to spare you any future embarrassment and allow you to shine at the dinner table!
Using your noodle to cook perfect pasta
1. Put 16-20 cups* of water in a large pot.*
2. Wait for water to boil.*
3. Add 16 ounces of pasta to boiling water.
4. Stir the pasta right after you put it in the water & stir occasionally during cooking.*
5. Follow the package directions for cooking times.* If the pasta is to be used as part of a dish that requires further cooking, under cook the pasta by 1/3 of the cooking time on the package.
6. Taste the pasta to determine if it is done.” Pasta should be “al dente,” or firm to the bite, yet cooked through. Drain pasta immediately* and stir in about a tablespoon of olive oil for added flavor & to help prevent stickiness.
*These items are the most common pasta cooking mistakes. Change your heedless ways and you too can make perfect pasta every time! For example, if you do not drain the pasta immediately, the pasta will keep cooking while sitting in the water even if it’s off the burner since the water is very hot.
Okay, back to our recipe. Cook one pound of perfect pasta and come along with me… the benefit from coming along with me is that you will never have to live with someone else taking credit for every good recipe you ever made just because someone taught you late in life how to cook a noodle. Girl power!
Place a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan and turn to medium heat.
Add about 6-8 ounces of cod (more or less is fine) and a dash of salt & pepper & fry about 10 minutes on each side.
As the noodle instructions say above, stir a tablespoon or two of olive oil into your perfect noodles.
Add the zest and juice of one lemon (watch for seeds). I can smell summer already, California summer, that is.
Now comes the fun part. Seasonings! First, grate a couple (or more, if you like) cloves of garlic. I bought this handy set and love it. It makes a very fine grated garlic which I adore. It blends into my recipes so nicely.
Flake cod into bite size pieces. Add cod & garlic to pasta.
Chop a few tablespoons each of fresh flat leaf parsley, chervil, and oregano. Cool thing is that you can play with various herbs like thyme, sage, dill or cilantro. Add what you like! In fact, if you can cook perfect pasta, you can grow your own herb garden. Best part is, herbs love cruddy, sandy soil and they come back year after year! They are the perfect garden for a girl who has the boots for gardening but no patience for it. Add salt & pepper to taste and stir.
Ahhhhh… “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” – Federico Fellini
I owe you an apology. I have been a bad blogger. My new gig has been taking up much of my time but I haven’t forgotten you. I’ll be whipping up some new recipes for you soon. I am working on one today, in fact, but it’s not ready to share yet. You might want to find a snack while you wait.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this story from my past.
Once upon a time there was a little girl who didn’t like to eat quiche. Oh wait, I already told you that story, didn’t I? You want new material? Oh, okay…. um…. let’s see… did I tell you about the time I ran into a mailbox when I was learning to drive. No? You’re not interested? Fine… um… I’m sure I can find something to share with you from this crispy old photo album here… No, that won’t do. That accidental mullet that made me cry and is far too embarrassing.
Oh! Here we go. How about a story about what it’s like to grow up with a mom who is a professional cake decorator? I know, it probably sounds like no big deal to you but this was back in the seventies and eighties before Duff from the Ace of Cakes was even born. There was a cute, short little lady making the cakes of people’s dreams before fondant was popular and icing was made of 10 parts lard and 1 part powdered sugar. That lady happened to be my mom.
She worked at Scandia Bakery and Lefse Factory in Stanwood, Washington. Before the Food Network, you just made the newspaper and local news and that she did. I cannot even begin to tell you how many bowls of lard icing I’ve stirred. I’ve had too many nightmares about frosting to count and my father had a wallet that had a fold-out picture holder that dropped to the ground when he opened it with pictures of my mom’s cakes. Yes, I am still recovering. Thank you for asking.
I shall now share with you my very first cakes – the cakes I shed tears over. These are the cakes for which I won money, hard rock record albums (before I even knew what hard rock was) and ribbons. I spent hours trying to make them look like my supermom’s cakes. Now I must warn you before you move on that you have not accidentally happened upon the Cake Wrecks blog. What? You’ve never been? You must. You must go now. No wait. Finish laughing at this and then go. No. Don’t laugh. I will hurt all over again if you do.
Do you remember Precious Moments figurines? Yeah, I still have some in my attic. Anyhooo… How about that? Grand champion winner! Yeah, pretty sure that ribbon must have belonged to the cake on the left side of the ribbons. How nice of my parents to take the picture this way to make me always think I won. I’m not even going to try to comment on her race. I’m just plain not sure.
Those tears I mentioned? This is the photo for me to remember them by. The cake, in case you can’t tell from this awesome 126 film that was developed about 15 years after the picture was taken, is of a red-haired country girl fishing on the world’s largest stump or at the world’s smallest pond. Not sure which. The tears? Oh yeah, those were because her huge head kept falling off. In case you were wondering, toothpicks will not hold your head on. ‘Nuf said.
Okay, now for my final picture.
Evidently, I liked big stumps. I don’t know why. Easy to see why the grand prize ribbon is way at the other end of the table. They didn’t want to give me false hope. Poor little bunny. Good news is that his head stayed put and it appears they showed me a merciful second place.
Thank you for humoring me by making it to the end of this blog post. You’re so gracious. You should consider being a judge for cake shows.