12.25.2010

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.


What a couple of weeks. What a month. 

Without really even recovering from that which was Thanksgiving, I caught a cold, and had some pretty big stuff going on in both work and home worlds. Although I had lined up dinner commitments for a good many of the nights, I also planned to spend all of my home-times meals concentrating on continuing to clear out and utilize all of the ingredients still left in the fridge from that which was Thanksgiving. There were no more leftovers, mind you, but a lot of ingredients that simply didn’t get used as I went a little haywire on that which was Thanksgiving and made enough food to feed greater Los Angeles. 

Since then, in my kitchen, there has been -– peppered between dining out on anything from an entire pig’s head (I ate the eyeball!) to beautiful, simple food, done right -- oyster stew, roasted heirloom carrots, a couple of filets, sausage over lentils, sausage biscuits, beef bourguignon, any number of pastas, some throw-together hors d'oeuvres for a small holiday soiree last week, and a roast chicken over white beans, leeks and garlic with sautéed rapini.

It doesn’t feel like it, but looking at that last paragraph I guess I’ve been pretty busy.
 

So now, I’ve got my tree up and decorated, wrapped gifts spilling out from underneath (Christmas shopping = done), the house is all holiday-y and lovely looking and smelling, it’s rainy and blustery outside, I’ve got a fire in the fireplace, a pot of chili stewing on the stove, a glass of Chilean Cabernet in my hand, my sweet dog lying next to me, and Christmas cookies baking in the oven (my first ever by myself). So what am I missing?
 

Sam.
 

I came home the other night after a decadent and extravagant holiday dinner with Uncle Dougertons, put on my jammies, clicked on the TV to find some completely banal movie on whatever channel it had been left on, which completely absorbed me. When the final credits rolled, the accompanying song was Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. I didn’t see it coming. I was completely blindsided. I didn’t know why for a moment.
 

I was bawling.
 

Then I realized: this was one of Sam’s favorite songs. He even put it on a mix cd for me ages ago. That cd was stolen from my car in Atlanta about a decade ago. It was also the only thing stolen from my car that day that I cared even remotely about. Ironically, also the thing that probably got tossed in the trash almost immediately by whomever broke into that old Jetta.
 

So what did I do? I ran to my room and grabbed a bunch of my old photo albums to pore through, and even put a framed picture of Sam wearing a Santa hat on my mantle.
 

I was still bawling.
 

It was very late – too late to call anyone – so I texted Paz, Heather and Emma. I just wrote that I was overwhelmingly sad about Sam (they all knew him as well). I think I just wanted to talk about him to someone. Good things. I thought it would make me feel better. But everyone was asleep (I assume).
 

That moment has passed and I feel better now. I don’t feel like bawling. But I realized that that which occurred the other night was a really good thing. No, I could not touch, smell or hear Sam – and I desperately wanted to. But I felt him. I remembered him. I thought about him. And I realized, again, how fortunate I am to even have that. I’m not very good at crying or emoting in certain ways and moments like that night only occur randomly (and very rarely), when some obscure visceral trigger is hit. Then, wham-o.


I’ve written about Sam before – a little over a year ago. I’ll probably write about him again. I want you all to know about him, too. He was pretty great – and has had an enormous impact on my life, and very likely had a lot to do with who I’ve been and am, and will be.

Considering that it's now Christmas I was going to share a recipe for Christmas cookies. But considering A) I can't bake, B) My cookies looked ridiculous, C) everyone has a Christmas cookie recipe anyway (or one can just turn to Martha), and D) did Sam even care about Christmas cookies that much? I sure don't..., I decided to go a different route.



Sam ate oddly. He grazed a lot. Small nibbles throughout the day. He also seemed to prefer really basic foods. My strongest recollection was from college: the most common "meal" he would prepare for himself was spaghetti with a ton of butter, salt and maybe pepper. Well, clearly I am not going to - nor do I have any need to - share that recipe with you. So, I thought I'd do it up my own way. And I think Sam would dig this dish.
 
Happy Holidays and a beautiful New Year to Sam, where ever and however he may be, to Mary (and Jerry) Trice, and to all of my beautiful friends and family. I know how truly blessed I am to have each and every one of you touch my life.



Linguine with Pancetta Mushroom Cream Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients
  


8 oz
 dry linguine
 
1 tablespoon
 olive oil
 
3 tablespoons
 Pancetta, cut in ¼-inch dice
 
1/2 cup
 1/4-inch thick slices of cremini mushrooms
 
1/2 cup
 Chardonnay
 
1/2 cup
 heavy cream
 
2 teaspoon
 freshly grated Parmesan cheese
 
2 teaspoon
 chopped flat-leaf parsley
 
Small pinch
 minced garlic
 
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon
 freshly grated Meyer lemon zest moistened in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
 

*Fresh lemon zest added at the last minute brings out the lemony nuances of a nice white wine, such as a Sancerre or Puilly Fume. I also suggest adding a pinch of minced fresh garlic just before tossing the sauce and pasta together.



Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously. Add the pasta and cook 8-10 minutes just until al dente.
 

While the pasta is cooking, sauté pancetta in olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
 

As the pancetta begins to brown, add the mushrooms and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and dry. Stir in wine. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Add cream. When sauce comes to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in cheese and parsley. Add garlic and salt to taste. Toss sauce and pasta together. Garnish with lemon zest and serve immediately.

 

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