what's for dinner?

As promised, a step-by-step pictorial blog of tonight’s dinner preparation. 

My mom started making a recipe for shrimp pasta about four years ago.  Hers includes a olive oil, garlic, and sundried tomato sauce—and it is SO good.  Sometimes she adds vegetables, and it always includes capers—though I really really hate capers.  I mean, what are they anyway? 

To me, it’s baffling that a woman born and raised in a tiny farm town hugging the banks of the Ohio River knows how to cook with garlic and sundried tomatoes, let alone capers.  But Mom’s an inspired cook.  I can only hope to become what she is—the reason I enjoy cooking so much is because of her. 

So…shrimp pasta.  When Matthew and I were engaged, Mom put together an extensive collection of all of her recipes she thought I’d need, and of course shrimp pasta was included.  I started out making it line-by-line (excluding capers), but soon realized how versatile it is. 

Tonight, I went outside and picked some basil.

Then, I chopped it up, tossed it with some lemon juice and a crushed garlic.  To that, I added a pound of peeled shrimp. 

Today at the market, I picked up some patty-pan squash.  They look sort-of spacey and like a fake vegetable you’d only see spilling out of a cornucopia.  But they are really buttery and tasty after they’ve roasted in the oven.

I also got a sweet green Wadmalaw onion—they are really special and only around for about another week or so—I’ve never had a sweet green onion until we moved to Charleston. 

I cut up the squash and onion, tossed them with olive oil and cracked pepper, then added some thyme from the container garden.   

Into the oven for 20 minutes!

Then I got out some slow-roasted tomatoes I cooked a couple of days ago. 

I got the recipe from this book which came from this blog.  When I showed the book to Mom, she said, “you should’ve written that,” which made me feel proud and guilty all at once.

But I think that’s the feeling moms give us all the time. 

Anyway…the tomatoes—lovely.  Slimy?  Goopy?  Sure.  But they taste awesome.  I chopped them up, splashed in a bit of balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt, the rest of the basil, and heated it on low. 

Because Matthew insisted on manning the grill, I had to wait a bit.  Why?  He was doing some pull-ups and push-ups.  Shirtless.  Manly, indeed. 

I refreshed myself with a cocktail.  Mom did not teach me to cook like this—this part is my own invention. 

I crushed up a few blackberries. 

Added a mere smidgen of tequila.

And finished it off with sparkling lemonade.  Ahhh….

Then it was time to get back to work. 

I skewered the shrimp using a technique I’ve read about—the double skewering keeps the shrimp from rotating, while also keeping the manly griller from stressing out. 

This is what English grad students do whilst grilling. 

I boiled water, and added pasta from The Pasta Man.  I love stopping to see him (many times it is actually a woman who serves me—no matter) at the farmer’s market.  He makes about 30 different ravaolis (like truffled lobster and porcini mushroom) and at least 12 cut pastas.  Pictured is roasted red pepper.  We also got a bundle of spinach.  A dollar each!  Amazing!  In it goes…

And then it was time to put it all together.  The pasta only cooks for a minute (literally), and then you have to mix it with the sauce in about 0.00000078 seconds or the noodles fuse together into a nasty, glutenous mass. 

Not that it has ever happened to me. 

That’s all to say, I do not have photographic documentation of that.  It’s what Matthew calls “a tense moment” in the kitchen.  I might have slung about half of the water on the floor in the process.  Maybe. 

I finished it off with a bit of goat cheese (another non-Mom touch—she says goat cheese tastes just like a goat smells). 

Then we ate.   And it was so good.

The cat was jealous.

And though the entire process of taking ingredients and dreaming up a delicious meal has it’s own joys, this is the real reason I cook:

Until I finish.  Because I always finish first…

and he has that last wonderful bite…