We are trying to maintain a cheery outlook and some degree of sanity as we plod along in this new pandemic, cooped-up world. Mr. Friday works from home, at the kitchen table most days, while I am toiling in the studio. We chat on bathroom breaks and when I wander out to the kitchen for a swig of Diet Coke. We meet in the middle, at the kitchen counter, for lunch, where we discuss our dinner plans. Remember the glory days of going out for dinner? Sigh. We do, too.
Our weekends loom large and there are only so many home projects we can collaborate on before a little friction wears our taut tempers even thinner. Last weekend we primed and painted a dozen replacement window shutters for the house. They are still sitting in the garage on Thursday morning waiting for the final coat of paint. Then I emptied out the window boxes for said windows, and planted them with expensive, yet such tiny, petunias, impatiens, sweet potato vines and lobelia. (You can barely see them from the street!) The front of the house looks tidier. The side of the house, with two other window boxes I completely forgot about, looks sad and neglected. I promise I will get around to it this weekend.
Last weekend we also emptied out, culled and reorganized the freezer, and catalogued the remaining contents. It is amazing what we will do for entertainment these days. Other people watch Netflix on their individual screens in remote parts of their apartments, and we decide it would be fun to clean out the refrigerator. Together.
Happily, we now have the bread collection under control. It is amazing how many singleton hot dog buns were carefully nestled in the freezer. Ever since we started the annoying habit of scrawling the freezer entry date on the plastic storage bags, we are appalled by how long we hold onto things. I doubt if we took such care with our children’s preschool art projects. I have already bored you with the fun fact that our 10th Anniversary Commemorative tin of Old Bay Seasoning was only replaced upon the 20th Anniversary. I doubt there is much of a re-sale market for vintage Old Bay. Let alone the 2-years-past-its-sell-by-date long-life milk carton that I just found it the back of the fridge. I had bought it for a hurricane a few years ago, and naively assumed it was good forever. Last week I discovered the August 2019 date stamped on it. Whoops.
Now that the fridge is in relative apple pie order, this weekend we will tackle organizing the pantry. Aren’t you glad you have to stay home and can’t drop by to visit?
When we aren’t trying to come to grips with our squirrelly behavior we do long for the good old days of jumping in the car and going to a restaurant. My final meal would be spaghetti from a great red sauce, family-run Italian restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut: Pellicci’s.* Pellicci’s was our family’s go-to spot for celebrations. It had red and white tablecloths and amiable, voluble owners who would always greet my father like he was their long-lost cousin. My brother and I would tuck into the spaghetti with gusto. We still like to eat there whenever I get up to Connecticut. It reminds us of our childhoods, and the meals we shared with our parents, back when our big decision was whether to have spaghetti or pizza.
Most Friday nights Mr. Friday and I make homemade pizza. We have perfected the dough and the baking time over the years. Last weekend we decided to branch out in our fantasy restaurant world and try, again, to make homemade pasta. If we can’t go to Pellicci’s, we could bring Pellicci’s here. While there was no waitstaff who were delighted to see us, we made a credible meal. It was an adventure in dining that was diverting and delicious. And we whiled away another evening in isolation.
Luckily, you can do this, too. Go look in your pantry, and grab the flour. If your fridge is nicely organized you will know where to find the eggs, just like us. The olive oil is on the counter near the stove, along with the container of salt. We cheated and used a jar of Rao’s marinara sauce, which was also in the pantry. If you have a little more time on your hands, and who doesn’t, make your own pasta sauce. But we were intent on survival – not completely re-inventing the wheel. I know Mr. Pellicci wouldn’t mind if we scrimped this once.
This is the pasta dough recipe we used: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/fresh-pasta-dough
3 large eggs, beaten to blend
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Mix eggs, flour, oil, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover dough with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes. Cut and roll as desired.
We used the fancy Kitchen-Aid pasta attachment for rolling out the fettuccine. We managed to dust flour all over the kitchen, but it was fun. Heavens to Betsy. Do you remember fun? It was as good as Play-doh. But this time around, you can eat it. And Instagram it!
Food52’s recipe is even more basic – no olive oil! Perfect for when you can’t go back to the store, because we really should be staying home. https://food52.com/recipes/27825-simple-fresh-pasta
And if you have a can of tomatoes in the pantry, you can make a better sauce than we used: https://picky-palate.com/10-minute-homemade-pasta-sauce/. Don’t scimp on the garlic.
Add some grated cheese, some cheesy Dean Martin music, a little antipasto (celery sticks work fine) and some modest red wine. Check out the bread collection in your freezer; you might unearth something resembling garlic bread. Enjoy! You have acquired a new skill, learned how to make a new dish, and had a virtual dining out experience. And we will all muddle through.
“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”