I’ve committed a grievous offense against the Italian cooking gods. Perhaps it was eating home-made tomato sauce and meatballs with pasta while watching the Superbowl. Or perhaps it was not paying 100% attention while removing said sauce from the refrigerator today. Whatever offense I committed, I can ask only that I somehow manage not to commit it again. Because the penalty was far greater than giving 5 yards to the other team or making poor use of a time-out.

I dropped the plastic container with the leftover sauce and it shattered, causing the majority of its contents to splatter on the floor and in the refrigerator. I was in shock. I think if I hadn’t been so surprised by it I would have cried.

In The Callahan Chronicals, Spider Robinson explains an Irish belief that spilling or otherwise wasting alcohol is a mortal sin. When you die every drop of which you’re guilty is gathered in a container of some kind and you’re suspended upside down in it. “And if you die, to hell with ya!” It wouldn’t surprise me if Italians have a similar belief regarding tomato sauce (or gravy, the term preferred by some). If they do, my soul is in mortal peril. I spilled enough today that another mishap could cost me an eternity of eating macaroni and cheese that tastes like cauliflower.

So, it seems most wise to make some attempt at appeasing the Italian cooking gods, just to be on the safe side. Perhaps it is time I repent of my recent pasta-avoiding ways and eat more of it, preferably with garlic. Perhaps I must attempt my mom’s sauce recipe by myself (and blog about it, of course). Perhaps I must resist the temptation of cream cheese and jelly sandwiches and re-dedicate my efforts to advancing the culinary arts.

I pray that the Italian cooking gods will guide me in this quest. (Suggestions from readers are also more than welcome.)

A Day of Cooking Adventures

Today garlicturino86 and I had some rather crazy cooking-related adventures. They began with going through the cookbook: Garlic, Garlic, Garlic and discussing which recipes would and would not be practical for a gathering planned for the next day. I had already picked recipes I was interested in trying. I then narrowed down the options based on my comfort level and the needs and preferences of my anticipated guests, some of whom have food allergies. Further discussion eliminated recipes such as the garlic walnut bread with rosemary, a recipe that calls for equipment I don’t have, and confirmed the ones that would be best for our gathering. Even the confirmed recipes required modifications or substitutions. I was surprised by how much work went into simply deciding what to cook for my friends.

Once we had looked at the ingredients for each recipe and created a shopping list, garlicturino86 and I ventured forth to a new grocery store! There we found our way through previously-unexplored aisles of various items, mostly selecting ones that were relevant to my goal of filling an entire neighborhood with the savory aroma of garlic (and other tasty things). We were able to find everything we needed … except for the cerignola olives I wanted to be part of my Spicy Mediterranean Olives with Garlic & Herbs (p. 42). I’d tasted some black cerignola olives at a holiday party and absolutely loved them. So, they seemed well worth traveling out of my way to visit a specialty Italian store.

This is where things started getting interesting. garlicturino86’s mom suggested one store, which seemed excellent but only had one small jar of red cerignola olives. I was hoping to find black ones, so I decided to try somewhere else. So, I searched for a store on my trusty GPS (which really should have the GLaDOS voice) and traveled a couple of miles in the opposite direction, just to find that the store was closed.

Not to be deterred, I searched for another store. Avoiding tolls, the route my GPS suggested would have taken far too long. So, I searched allowing tolls, and found a considerably shorter route. Then next thing I knew I was going over a bridge with a $12 toll and entering another state! That was completely unacceptable, but the only thing I could have done about it was make a highly illegal U-turn across multiple lanes! So instead I yelled and became positively determined not to leave my new location until I was in possession of olives.

garlicturino86 then discovered that a fourth store, which we had previously ruled out due to its location, was actually located a stone’s throw away from where we had come off the bridge. We drove, parked, and hurried up to it – to discover they were in the process of closing. “No, please let us buy olives before you close!” we called, rushing into the store. The gentleman there only had green cerignola olives, but I gladly bought them mixed with other olives as part of a medley. One bite was enough to satisfy my olive craving. We had completed our quest! garlicturino86 invited me to celebrate with him by sharing the prosciutto bread he had just purchased at the same store.

By the time we arrived home we were exhausted and laden with a million groceries. They found their homes surprisingly quickly, and then we embarked on a culinary adventure. I would love to share that adventure with you, reader, but garlicturino86 wants to sleep for some odd reason.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

I must apologize for not updating in such a long time. This semester was extremely busy. On top of all the academic work, I also moved (about 30 minutes away, within the same state) earlier this month. That was fun and exciting and the actual move itself went surprisingly smoothly and quickly because I had several friends help. They were awesome! But it did throw a bit of a monkey wrench in the works.

I cooked many tasty things when I went to visit my best friend in November. We worked together on them, myself mostly following her lead. They included chicken with roasted potatoes and whole cloves of garlic, a delicious stew with turkey meat and vegetables, and apple pie.

I haven’t cooked as much as usual since Thanksgiving, but I did get to bake about a week ago. I followed the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe (a lifetime favorite that I’ll be repeating with my mom in several hours – our yearly tradition). I left out the nuts, but added a shot of Frangelico to the dough around the time I also added the chocolate chips. The result was absolutely delicious – and quite popular at the 2 parties I attended that weekend.

I spent Christmas Eve with my best friend and her family. She and I played viola and sang at the services at a church where we’ve known the choir director for years. It was so wonderful to play music with an extremely talented and dedicated group!

When we got back to her parents’ house we exchanged presents. One of the gifts she gave me was Garlic, Garlic, Garlic: More than 200 Exceptional Recipes for the World’s Most Indispensable Ingredient. It has more information than a chef could ever want about garlic, as well as recipes that range from starters to pasta and seafood to even dessert!

I just might have to follow in Julie Powell’s footsteps and cook my way through this book.

Family Reunion

Thank you to everyone who visited the blog over the weekend. I was at my cousin’s wedding with garlicturino86 and therefore couldn’t update. The wedding was so wonderful because family from three different regions of the US were able to come together in one place for the first time in over 20 years! Some cousins in their teens and early twenties met each other for the first time. Not only did I get to spend time with loved ones I don’t see regularly, but I got to see them interact with each other. I loved being surrounded by family – and getting to introduce garlicturino86 to everyone.

Some highlights of the weekend were:

  • Going to the Boston Aquarium with cousins from one region.
  • Savoring delicious lobster at the giant family dinner where everyone was reunited for the first time in over 20 years!
  • Learning that my aunt loves cooking and having a rather animated conversation about our experiences with it.
  • Breakfast cooked by one of my cousins, while everyone else relaxed, talked, and ate.
  • Seeing how happy my cousin and his bride are to be married!!!
  • Buying the perfect teapot and matching cups for garlicturino86 on our way home, seeing how happy this gift made him, and sharing some of the best tea I’ve ever had.

As my cousin’s bride point out, I’m the next person in the family to get married!

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