Date: October 16, 2013
I love food. I love to cook and bake and find happiness and comfort in a meal. I don't think we're supposed to do that, but when such passion is put into the simplest things...and these simple things can make me feel calm and happy...then I'm all for it. Food just happens to be one of those simple things that definitely has my attention (more times than not) and is definitely one of my passions.
My friend, Maria, had a idea. She invited me over to cook with her. We planned to cook something that we had never cooked before and that wasn't easy to prepare. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make a meal that took creativity and patience...lots of patience. Our friend, Heather, also joined us. We decided on homemade (from scratch) linguine with vodka infused tomato cream sauce, a fresh, baby spinach salad with cherry tomatoes and balsamic blackberry vinaigrette. Yum, right? And it was! But, not without some concerns, doubts and lots of laughing along the way.
Maria, in charge of course, assigned me my task. There, I found myself with a hallowed out volcano of flour on her marble counter, cracking eggs in my "well" one at a time. I then proceeded to knead the dough for 45 minutes straight. I believe the recipe specified that "if you think you've kneaded it long enough...think again...and knead it for another 15 minutes." I thought it would never end. I was ready to give up after the first 7 minutes and run down the street for the boxed stuff. It wasn't fun at first, but I had the mothering voice of Heather to motivate me until the end. The end wasn't pretty. I ended up with a hard ball of dough, about the size of an orange. I'll be honest...I was pretty concerned about the portion size of our meal. I arrived hungry...and after almost an hour of kneading, as if I was an Italian grandmother in 1902, and the scrumptious aroma of garlic and tomatoes coming from the stove....you can imagine the stage of my starvation at that point. I was already planning out my post meal stop at the Burger King drive through and we hadn't even cut the pasta yet!
Needless to say....we were all surprised when Maria pulled out her shiny, brand new pasta maker by Giada DeLaurentiis that she had bought at Target earlier that day. Don't get me wrong...it wasn't an easy task, but the end result was absolutely amazing! We had actually made enough pasta for 4 huge dinner portions, plus some left over! Maria's vodka sauce was to die for and the salad was the perfect addition.
After dinner, Heather made us all coffee and what came next still has me salivating. Maria toasted up some whole grain bread and topped it with lots of sweet cream butter. Then, she went into her pantry to pull out something that I can only describe as heavenly. It was a mason jar, full of fig preserves. Not jelly and not jam, folks! Fig preserves are plump, sweet figs surrounded by thick, flavorful syrup, created by the natural sugars produced by the figs themselves. Just looking at the adorable little mason jar filled with sugary figs instantly filled me with the desire to visit the South, bake pies and live the simple life. She piled lots of fig preserves up on the toasted, buttery bread and it was the most delicious dessert I've ever had!
It was a fun night catching up with great friends, having a lot of fun exploring in the kitchen and of course finding our happy place with a very tasty meal. I can't wait until our next collaborative adventure.