Anger Burger

Pasta alla Homer Simpson

Posted by Sunday on May 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm

I’ve been getting many kind emails from people remarking that they are worried about me, and I appreciate it greatly.  Today Hannah wrote me:

“I sense that this sad plague hasn’t left you. It’s going to be okay! Everything will work out!”

Which is very succinct.  And true.  Sad plague is still here.  And it will all be okay, but for now my coping mechanism is knitting and pizza.  And watching Sister Wives. Which, if anyone wants to discuss, I’d love to.  Robyn seems like such an ill fit!  Does she ever stop crying?!  And Meri should have her own show anyway.

I feel so tantrummy about the oven, but it’s a metaphor for a bigger picture: after much waiting and financial commitment, we feel we made a stupid decision by renting the house we did.  More specifically, from the person we did.  We feel tricked and cheated.  We are discouraged that we work very hard and are still stuck in this college-years loop of rental houses with unscrupulous landlords.  I had really thought we’d rent this house for a few years while one of us tried to get a job ‘real’ enough that our credit union wouldn’t blow their Starbucks out their noses while laughing at our request for a home loan, but I can already tell you that I don’t want to give this guy any more rent money than is legally required by our lease, which means we’ll lose money, again, moving, again, in another year¹.

Anyway, blah blah fuckety blah.

Pasta!

On Saturday my mom and neice and I went to a congratulatory dinner for a cousin of mine, to Brewery City Pizza.  This requires some quick backstory.  I’m lying about the quick part.

When I was little and we were poor, we rarely but sometimes we treated to pizza out at Brewery City (which in later years tried to just be BCP, but you know: fuck you).  This always included pitchers of root beer, one of the few times that I not only had soda, but in an unmonitored quantity.  So I jacked my blood sugar up to Willy Wonka levels and happily munched on pizza.  Good memories.

Now?  BCP, which I will now allow them to call themselves, is a sad, meandering, aimless restaurant that serves some pizza but also has a large menu of “flatbreads” and pasta and burgers and now wok-fried edamame appetizers, which I think we can agree is not only the kiss of death, but the teeth-knocking, stringy-slobbered, totally drunk not in that refreshing you-just-drank-a-little-beer way but in the not-making-sense-drunk-and-smoked-a-whole-pack-of-cigarettes-and-threw-up-a-few-hours-ago-and-kept-drinking kind of way kiss of death.  And while our family does not compose a unit of the sharpest knives in the drawer, we still shouldn’t have to all stand around the menu board for over 15 minutes, unable to make sense of how to order, what to order, or how much food is involved.

Conclusion: don’t go there.  However!  My mom ordered pasta with browned butter and mizithra cheese, also known to some as Pasta alla Homer.  Simpson? my dad asked.  No, Iliad.  But let’s just go with Simpson.

Her pasta was pretty decent, but when I got home and told Mike the Viking about it he smashed some crockery and when I woke up from my head injury, told me he loved Pasta alla Homer and why didn’t I ever make it for him?  So I made it.

Browning the butter is the hardest part, and it isn’t hard.  You go slow, and it toasts to nutty perfection while the pasta is cooking.  The hardest part about it is actually that you need at least half a stick of butter for two people, which may be a little difficult to justify depending on how tight your pants are.  And mine are pretty tight lately.

Food styling has abandoned me.  I was feeling okay about it – it’s just a pile of white pasta in a bowl, and then realized later as I edited photos that I took a photograph of the one bowl that has a big chip in it.  Who cares?  Not you.  And thank you for that.

Everything else about life is grand.  The house, outside the Oven Incident (is it an incident if it remains ongoing?) is beautiful and old and pretty ideal for us.  We have new neighbors in back and they are nice.

I’ve started my annual gardening marathon.  This will last a few weeks until the plants begin to die, and then I will stop bothering with them until next year, around this time, when I will freshly forget that I can’t garden.  My friend Yuko’s little ceramic pot got a new resident.  I killed the last one.  Which you may have already guessed.

Lastly:

Pasta alla Homer Simpson
mizithra is like a very, very dry feta cheese that is only good for grating over pasta, but that’s a pretty good use, so go ahead and invest in a chunk.  otherwise, the recipe is really remedial math for cooking: if you can’t make Pasta alla Homer, I worry about your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

1/2 package of spaghetti
1/2 stick butter
about 1 oz grated mizithra, more to taste
fresh sage, roughly chopped, about 10 leaves or more to taste
salt

  • Bring a pot of water to boil.  When it begins to boil, add a very large pinch of salt.  Several large pinches.  Pasta water should taste like sea water.  Add your pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in a saute pan, melt the butter over low heat.  If at all possible, use a silvery-bottomed pan so you monitor the butter browning.  It will be hell in a dark, non-stick pan.  Sorry.  The butter will not do anything for a long time, but once it starts to brown it will progress fairly quickly.  If you ever need to walk away from it, take it off the heat.
  • Around the time your pasta is done, the butter will be browned.  It can be pretty brown – not too dark like chocolate, but not too pale either.  The color in my pan up there is a little bit before I stopped cooking it.  Toss the chopped sage into the butter, which will cause it to foam up a little, and then using tongs or a pasta spoon, transfer the cooked pasta into the saute pan of butter and sage.  Keep the heat on in the pan, but turn the heat off on the pot of pasta water.  Don’t worry about draining the pasta well before it goes into the pan – the water will cook off very quickly, and in fact you want it in there with it to keep it all from sticking.    When all the pasta is in the pan, toss evenly to coat, and let the pasta cook a little and absorb the butter and remaining water, about two or three more minutes.
  • Turn the heat off, add the grated mizithra and toss to distribute.  Mizithra doesn’t melt, but it will stick to the spoon or tongs, so scrape it off periodically to get it back into the pasta.
  • Serve with extra sage and more cheese if you want, otherwise eat up.

¹A judge would most certainly grant us breaking our lease without financial repercussions based on the shit our landlord has pulled, but I simply cannot emotionally comprehend the idea of moving again so soon. It is too profoundly heinous.

May 21st, 2012 | Make It So

37 Responses to Pasta alla Homer Simpson

  1. Rhonda says:

    hang in there, karma will bite his ass….

    • Mrs. Melons says:

      Dude, there’s no karma. Then Dick Cheney’s heart would have rotted away by now and my mom would not have gotten fucking cancer. Not that this is supposed to cheer anybody up. I’m sorry.

  2. Leah says:

    This is pasta Alla Spaghetti Factory! I lived for this stuff growing up and demanded it for every burglary and extended-family function. I went there a couple years ago and was SO disappointed. In a very similar fashion, that is the only dish to order, and you’re better off making it at home.

  3. Leah says:

    Uh….I burgle once every year in June, right around my birthday….

  4. jess says:

    Ignoring the oven issue, I can’t believe you managed to fit brown butter, leslie hall and donnie darko into a post about brewery city.

  5. Victoria says:

    Stupid question: Have you looked into an FHA loan? For home-buying. We got one. Our house isn’t special, but I love it madly because it’s mine.

    • Sunday says:

      We have just a little, but with no real seriousness. Clearly, though, it is where we are headed. At this rate any way.

      • Phil says:

        Hey Sunday, there is nothing wrong with an FHA loan–it’s just the government home loan that you get when you can’t afford to put 20% down on the purchase of a house. Most lower-middle class people use them. What you need to look into is opening an IDA Savings ( http://cfed.org/programs/idas/ida_basics/ ) with a low income housing organization in Olympia. We just bought and moved into our house last month, and we’re barrel-scrapers for sure. We opened an account through a place called the Portland Housing Authority, and the gist is that we had to put $100 a month into a savings account up to $2000, and they matched it with an additional $6000 for a grand total of $8000 to be used towards down payment and closing costs on the house. With this program we spent Zero Dollars outside of the account on buying our home. Seriously, it’s a worthwhile endeavor.

  6. It’s not an incident if it persists – it’s a situation. The Oven Situation. And I’m so sorry to hear it persists.

  7. Carly says:

    Renting is the worst, I too have spent a lot of time in the same exact headspace you’re describing here, and if there is a leaf of anything on top of your food then you’re basically a professional food stylist as far as I’m concerned.

  8. The pasta looks light and delicious! So easy to make at home I’d hesitate to order it out anywhere…

    • Sunday says:

      Oh totally, but it speaks to the menu of that restaurant that it was the only palatable-sounding option to my mom.

  9. quagmire says:

    I hope that crystal beside your plant is the appropriate frequency! This could be your problem. You should check the urRu Tuning Chart of Shards.

  10. Kate says:

    BCP sounds like a Gordon Ramsay episode waiting to happen. I must make this pasta!

  11. Kristin says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly love you any more you linked to the best video in the history of the world.

  12. rebecca says:

    it took me an hour to read that post. a couple minutes to read the post…and then the rest of the hour linking to leslie & the ly’s videos. i love you internet, you time suck.

    arg! the oven situation is the worst. doesn’t your landlord know we want you to be able to bake for your blog?! damn the man.

  13. Anina says:

    My landlord is being a real turd lately too, not fixing leaks, and I am too old for it as well. Just wanted to commiserate.

    Actually what I really wanted to do was ask what I should use if I am not up to looking for mizithra. Salvadorian cheese? Parmesan? I am sure both would work but I can’t believe no part of this thread hasn’t conversed about it yet.

    • Sunday says:

      This is a super great question! One that I don’t have the answer to. I wouldn’t say that parmesan is a substitute, though it is certainly delicious. But parmesan has a distinct flavor unlike mizithra – mizithra is almost insipidly mild, just salty and so dry and unmeltable that when you chew up a lump of it, it just breaks down into smaller and smaller crumbles rather than dissolve. My suggestion for a sub might be just as hard to find: ricotta salata. Not the soft ricotta for making lasagna, but a dry version.

  14. ger says:

    this video is amazing. totally amazing.

    also, things have a way of working out. saying this may sound trite and not terribly helpful but, you know, it usually almost always does somehow work out.

  15. Jarvis says:

    Glad you’re back, hang in there!! Btw, your blog is appearing just fine on the iphone!

  16. Su-Lin says:

    :( Bad landlords are terrible and I’m so sorry that you guys have one. *big hug*

  17. Kristina says:

    Sister Wives is my guilty TV pleasure. Robyn is indeed an ill fit and I get so irritated by her comments. “Plural marriage is hard–” one says and she interjects “It’s not for amateurs.” Really? Like you? You’ve been on the scene 18 months. These women have been together 16 YEARS, you nutbag. I don’t blame them at all for having adjustment problems. They had a ticking machine, for all intents and purposes, and a huge bolt was thrown into it. One has to wonder why Meri encouraged it from the outset, and I wonder if it’s just because she wanted someone around that she actually likes and can be friends with, as its been made clear she and Robyn are tighter than the others.

    The kid I feel the most sorrowful for is Christine’s baby Truely. Christine is pregnant while Kody is courting Robyn, and then Robyn almost immediately has a baby, and now all the attention is on that new baby. Christine and Truely never had a chance to be doted on in the same way.

    Blah blah, blah. I’m actually embarrassed I watch this show. And have opinions regarding it.

    Pasta ala Homer and Iliad is one of my favorites. I’m not the tomato sauce kinda girl. This version is served at a pasta restaurant near me and I adore it. It’s dry, tangy, not goopy. Just my style.

    • Sunday says:

      Oh man, Robyn. She is so… Naive? I suppose that is the word I want to go with. Mike was in total disbelief when I told him she is younger than I am, but I can see it. Her lack of confidence and grating eagerness to prove her worth strike me as downright teenage at times. The frequency that she brings up the ‘equality’ between the women is awkward, particularly when she’s the one most intent on keeping secrets between just her and Kody.

      I feel terrible for Christine! She’s quite clearly the ‘mother’ of the family, the heart, and as you said, everything about her life in the show has been swept aside in pursuit of greater dramas. When she found out that Kody had kissed Robyn before their marriage I was actually furious at him, which was a little embarrassing. But c’mon! It’s like the one thing your damn plural marriages don’t allow: carnal contact before marriage. And moreover, his other wives actually care about that. So yeah, the Kody + Robyn thing makes me Marge grumble.

  18. Danabee says:

    Hey, I’ve eaten that! At the Spaghetti Factory near Seattle a hundred years ago whilst there for a training thing for work. THAT pasta was more memorable than anything I learned in the weeklong class. My priorities are clearly in order.
    I bet Tank’s mug has exactly the right ratio of whiskery bristles to peach fuzz.

    • Sunday says:

      That is where Mike actually remembers having it, too! The only time I went to the Seattle Spaghetti Facotry, I got food poisoning.

  19. Amanda says:

    a. Tank is ridiculously adorable! b. I had never heard of Mizithra before. c. I can’t wait to make this recipe!

  20. Joel says:

    Pasta ala Homer…made stuff like it many times, just not with that cheese. Parmesan works, too. Also, some chopped and crisped bacon is also wonderful.

    Re: the landlord, a little bit of documentation goes a long way when you end up in court…at least, when the government isn’t one of the parties to the suit. Just keeping a running log with date/time/event could make something like that a slam-dunk.

  21. Dana says:

    What I find really interesting is that I made the exact same thing a few days ago, and took pictures of it in a very similar bowl. We must be on similar wavelengths (or something).

  22. quagmire says:

    More diversions PLEEZ! Just post pics of Giant Spiders and sleeping puppies wearing fruity hats (both). We don’t judge, but we do want our dime’s worth of broadband outta this e-rag. Quantity, not quality … it’s the American way! Now start making shit up again. (btw: it’s irrelevant to us that you actually have a life outside your blog.)
    - luv ya kiddo, Dad

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>