Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Coming of Spring and Fresh From the Pantry

Last years tomato plants.
6 Pots and soil: $40
6 Heirloom tomato plants: $18
The 8 tomatoes they eventually produced: priceless.

I am feeling better. It is a deliciously astonishing thing.

I spent the day outside in the sun. The Vitamin D, plus a week of being able to eat solids, has given me enough energy to believe that spring really is coming. I'm loving being in my garden, and watching the early spring flowers (crocuses, tulips, forget me nots, blue bells, hyacinth, forsythia) begin to come into their own.

As we leave behind the culinary desert that has been my last few weeks, I thought it would be fitting to give tribute to the three major food groups that served me well: gatorade, jello and plain pasta.

Gatorade G2 Variety Pack - 24/20oz
 Ah, Gatorade. Thou hast been dear to my heart. One gallon a day at our highest point together.

Jell-O Sugar-Free Gelatin Dessert, Strawberry, 0.3-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 24)

Did you know that if you mix 2 pkgs of orange jello, 1 pkg of melon and 1 pkg of lime, they make perfect Jello Jigglers the color of swamp green? You then take your dinosaur sandwich cutter, and make brontosauruses to share with your 2 1/2 year old. You will be the coolest mom on the block.

Your 2 1/2 year old will then tell you, "They're not brontosauruses, Mommy. They're apatosauruses." You will no longer feel quite so cool.

Barilla Penne Multi Pack 1lb Each (Pack of 8) [Health and Beauty]

I have a whole new love and appreciation of simple starches. 

Here's one of my favorite quick recipes of pasta with protein. This recipe is the first in Nosh's series of Fresh From the Pantry recipes. "Fresh From the Pantry" means that you have all of these ingredients in your house. You can go to and get cooking in short order, with nary a shopping trip. Dinner will be served and it will be hot and good. Your family can complain if it pleases them, but hopefully they will restrain themselves in deference to the look on your face that says, plainly, "I just got home and it's been a long day. That's hot food on your plate. Now, shush."

Leah's Pasta Non-Carbonara/Instant Mac and Cheese
serves 4-6, depending on sides and number of toddlers

1 lb pasta of choice (whatever your kids will eat - linguine is particularly luxurious)
2 cups frozen peas
4 eggs beaten
1/12-2 cups grated parmesan
A splash of the highest fat content milk in your house (either 2% or whole in our house - if you have half and half or cream, use it)
salt (a good amount/1 tsp/to taste)
pepper (8-10 grinds of freshly cracked/to taste)
dried mustard (about 1 T - center of your palm)
paprika (about 1/2 T - 1/2 of the center of your palm)
nutritional yeast (optional, but worth trying for the added nutrition and hearty taste - about 3 T/a handful)
Fresh parsley (only if you've got it in the house- mine grows right next to the tomatoes)

1. Heat a pot of water to a boil. Check cooking times on the boxes of your pasta and peas. Place pasta in water. When the amount of cooking time remaining for the pasta equals the amount of time needed to cook the peas, add peas to the pot.

2. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients, except the fresh herbs.

3. When the pasta and peas are cooked, drain and return to hot pot. Pour egg and cheese mixture over the pasta. Stir to combine, until a creamy sauce in formed. Add fresh herbs and toss through. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly. Serve immediately.

Side note: We enjoy ours with a little Frank's Red Hot. Others stir in tomatoes. Make it your own - trust your gut and practice your "I like it, and I was doing the cooking" look! Also, for you who don't cook kosher at home, here's a recipe for Classic Carbonara.

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