As I returned to school this past week I wondered if time had stopped for everyone and not just for me for awhile. I was unsure of how I would feel on that day, but, that was quickly answered before the first bell had even sounded. Grateful. Grateful to be surrounded by my students and school family again. That was coupled with tapping into my inner strength (you know the kind that is at the very center of your being). I was almost ready to go forward after being stuck in neutral for weeks…although things still seemed ever so slightly out of focus. We welcomed a musician that morning. I listened to the songs, stories and a fierce love of life unfolded before me. Little did I know how that would put everything back in focus again. I had emerged and was finally in the moment once again.
Being in the moment, for me, means enjoying each day, laughing, sharing, loving, caring and doing my absolute best for myself and others. I knew that I was ready and it was time to step into the kitchen and cook up a meal. The menu was simple…old trusty favorites would be called upon. Mussels in white wine broth, orechiette with spicy sausage, broccoli rabe, and parmigiana cheese (sorry..was feeling Italian for a minute) and dessert was a rustic apple tart.
I have blogged about the mussels before remember? (http://notquitegourmet.com/2010/10/23/the-simple-things-in-life/) But let me confess that I was still a hot mess the second time ’round steaming them up…and this time I had company as a witness to the hot mess moment. If you are gripping your mouse right now in fear…please relax and breathe….the mussels opened up just fine and the flavors mingled together – the leeks, garlic, white wine and thyme. The look of pure food pleasure came across both our faces as we made our way through bowls of mussels and bread.
After an intermission complete with sharing music, laughs and stories it was time for round 2. The pasta course was the main course. I cracked open Giada’s cookbook and I was ready. This was a simple straightforward dish. I used a hot pork sausage vs. the turkey sausage it called for. It was just what I grabbed at the store but the turkey sausage is nice as well. I got to work on prepping the sausage (goal: to get rid of the casing…use your imagination here) and my dinner companion got to work on grating parmesan cheese. I can’t promise if you come to my kitchen you will be jobless for long! I prepped and blanched the broccoli rabe, started the orechiette going and we were on our way. I reached for the garlic again and started mincing away. It occurred to me that perhaps others don’t enjoy garlic as much as I do….it turns out we are both riding on the happy garlic train! Some garlic was added to the sausage along with a small pinch of red pepper flakes. Remember that if you are using hot sausage that this adds another dimension of spice and heat. When you drain the pasta it is important to save some of the pasta water. This has the starchy goodness you need to thicken up this dish ever so delicately. Everything was tossed together, served up, and we were, once again, enjoying explosions of flavors, and chatting up a storm. In fact…I was so excited I nearly forgot to take a picture! I did forget to take a picture of the apple tart…I was having too much fun…it was delicious though! It was served with a little cinnamon ice cream on top. That little duet of a dessert was a perfectly paired ending to the day.
As the night wore on I took a moment to reflect. Relaxed. Thankful. Happy. Calm. Peaceful. Comfort. Delicious. Those are the words which come to my mind as I recall that evening. What exactly was making me wish that time would stop for a little while longer and the early morning hours to stay away? Everything had come into focus and I didn’t want to lose that perfect picture just yet. Perhaps, if I patiently adjust the lens of life a little bit and venture forth into new territories, I might have a chance to take a few more perfect pictures. Thanks for reading and have a great week!