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.
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.
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
- 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