Hello? Is anyone out there? My first post in six weeks will be disjointed and jumpy, but I should be able to get back into the swing of things in a week or so.
The last two months has been a flurry of activity involving home improvement projects, international guests staying at our house, a graduation party, one child leaving the nest and managing travel plans for everyone in the family except myself. Now that the chaos has subsided, I have responded by parking my ass on my new furniture in front of my new 46 inch high definition Sony television. And I now have a DVR. During the lean years of single motherhood, I went without cable more often than not. That seemed to cure me of becoming obsessed with any show, and with the exception of The Sopranos and occasionally American Idol, I haven't watched any popular programming of the last eight years or so. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King credits a lack of television at a formative age for fueling his prolific imagination. He advises aspiring writers that they would do well to avoid the siren song of the "boob tube" for the same reason. I now understand exactly what he was writing about.
Everyday, I have episodes of No Reservations magically appearing in my queue. I've watched Anthony Bourdain nosh with Marky Ramone and Ted Nugent and dine on baby camel and squeezel. I'm discovering (the American version of) The Office and crushing on Steve Carell. The kids are hooked on The George Lopez Show, thanks to Nick at Nite and Steve has been unable to tear himself away from a second of Olympic programming. While viewing the athletes, Steve often asks, "Don't you wish I had a body like that?" or "Don't you wish I could bounce around the bedroom like that?" My response is alway negative, assuring him that if he did or could he'd have no use for the likes of my flabby ass.
A sidenote-if the Norm Coleman/Al Franken commercials are any indication of the political climate we're about to be thrown into for the next two and a half months, call me Libertarian. I gag when I think of the money spent on this petty sniping and inane sound bytes. They both come off looking like buffoons and quite honestly, if someone would get Jesse within shouting distance of a barber and a Gillette Mach 3, I'd probably throw my vote his way. Screw this mess.
Revisiting my excuses for not posting, we had a business associate of Steve's stay here for several days. His name is Raul and he is German. Gracious guest that he was, he asked if he could make dinner for us. You have a German house guest....what do you think he makes for dinner? Why risotto, of course!
In spite of the cultural disconnect, it was incredible. He used an entire bottle of white wine that had been languishing on my wine rack for over a year. Steve was put off when I told Raul that it was the second best risotto I've ever had in my life. The best risotto involved lobster and porcini mushrooms at Daniel Boulud's Brasserie inside the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. I probably should have omitted the codicil, but Raul appreciated my previous gastronomic experience.
Mmmmm....Caprese salad....my contribution to Raul's dinner.
After slaving for an entire week over Drew's graduation party, I'm convinced I should have gotten a split of the take for my contributions. Returning to work after that herculean effort was a relief. I prepared barbecue beef, (six chuck roasts, put in the ovens the night before, picked apart at 6 AM while drinking strong, black coffee) Buffalo Chicken Dip, and an assortment of other party foods. We had just enough food, which to my mind meant there wasn't nearly enough. My mother in law brought a pasta salad that had everyone clamoring for the recipe, so in the interest of popularity, I'm providing it here. I have had one pasta salad in my life that I actually liked. I just can't stomach those heavy, mayonnaise-y concoctions that are served cold. Ick. I can't find the recipe for the one I love, but it used to be on the menu at La Madeleine restaurants. It involved mostaciolli, balsamic vinegar, roasted red peppers, fresh thyme and mushrooms. Zucchini? Maybe, I can't remember.
In it's place, I give you Madeline's (my mother in law's) Pasta Salad
One 1 pound box of mostaciolli
1 C white vinegar
1 C sugar
1 TBSP onion flakes
1/2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Accent
1 tsp garlic powder
1 TBSP dried parsley
2 large cucumbers, thinly sliced or diced
1 medium red onion
1 small red pepper, diced
a few leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1 C Canola or vegetable oil
2 tsp prepared mustard
Boil noodles according to package instructions, adding a couple tablespoons of oil to the water while it boils. Mix all the dry spices together, then combine with the vinegar. Put the cooked noodles into a large bowl, then coat with the oil and mustard. Add the vegetables, then mix in the vinegar and spices. Allow the salad to sit in the fridge for at least one day, but it's best at 2-3 days. You could also add some grape tomatoes, mushrooms or zucchini to this-whatever is fresh and available, really.