This is a food journal entry I wrote some weeks back. I had tweaked my ever-reliable meat sauce and meatballs recipe to incorporate garlic confit and it was pretty awesome. The Husband bought me a pasta machine, seeing that I have this newfound interest in making things by hand recently. Today I made a nice pasta lunch, which took some time to put together but was really well worth the effort.
I realized through Michael Pollan’s books that the only way to eat healthy is to cook what you eat as much as possible (because I still like to eat out and support local food businesses). Majority of what we eat at home should be cooked at home, though, because it’s the best way to know what’s going in your food. This decision is a journey, and I realized by the dearth of usable ingredients at home that I had initially, that this decision can completely transform a home’s kitchen if taken seriously. Today’s pasta lunch took a lot of effort, but I make it because it’s my husband’s favorite. This time, though, I included more handmade components. The night before, I had already prepared the meatballs and sauce, and before I even had anything simmering in a pot, I had baked our bread so that it will have cooled down sufficiently the next day. Before I went to bed, the meatballs were ready, the sauce was simmering on very low fire to gently coax out all the flavors of the herbs and tomatoes in it while I slept. The bread is cooling on a rack, and the pasta dough is in the fridge. I had laid out the pasta machine and the drying rack so that it will be ready for use the next day when I wake up.
I was so glad to see that the bread has a more open crumb today, despite the fact that I accidentally degassed it the night before because part of the banneton wasn’t sufficiently floured and the dough had stuck to it during cold fermentation. I snipped some chives from the garden and mixed it with butter to toast the bread with. Topped that with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano while hot. The Husband cooked the pasta I rolled out and finished it with the sauce.
It was a delightful lunch, and I must say that the bread was really good. I’m not too good at baking country-style bread yet and my little creations still have so much room for improvement, but even at this point you can taste right away the difference between mass-produced bread and one you bake from home. The depth of flavor and the textures are simply not the same.
I didn’t learn how to cook until I got married, the day after my father died. Previous to that, I was completely dependent on his cooking and takeout food. When he died, I learned to cook more out of expediency than a real interest in it, but that was the time when I understood my father’s love language. He was a man of very few words, but he showed his love for us by lovingly preparing every meal. At that point, my relationship with food and cooking was never the same. Michael Pollan’s books just reminded me how wonderful the connection of food to not just our culture but our personal story can be. For me, it’s not just a nice pasta meal, it’s an expression of love, and a great way to remind myself that if I really want to learn something, I can learn it. Love is a great motivator, after all.