Category Archives: Italian cooking

Taking stock …

and re-evaluating my thoughts, emotions, feelings, friendships; things in general.  I find myself in an odd position.  This time of year is very difficult for me.  I have, since the death of my husband, taken at least one day near his birthday, which incidentally, is tomorrow, off from work.

I never know how I will wake up … it could be the “well, just another day” mode, or the “hysterical, uncontrolled, inconsolable sobbing” mode.  So, I avoid contact with the human race during that time because I am most unpredictable.

I know that I am not the only person who faces such days with this outlook.  I would love to say that I am free from the memories, thoughts and flashbacks.

Actually, I could say that.

But I would be lying, and I am a terrible liar.

If I have learned anything, it is that it is good to know yourself.  I think I have that one nailed.  Unfortunately for my family and friends, I remain an enigma.

Sigh.

It makes me feel a bit disconcerted that, after all this time, the birthday of someone who has been dead for years still has the ability to effect me in this way.

Don’t roll your eyes.  Of course I loved him and miss him.  But over three years later?  Give me a damn break already …

I had planned to spend the day at my favorite waterfall and then at a lake that holds special significance to me, however, due to an appliance malfunction, I will be at home.

Might as well cook, since I’m going to be here anyway and possibly reap the side benefit of being able to torment the appliance deliveryman with the smell of red sauce simmering on the stove.

I can only hope that he doesn’t find me sobbing like a child.

How awkward would that be?

Either way, I will get through the day and be thankful for many things.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t lament over the things that hurt me, but those are less frequent than the blessings.

There is no point whatsoever in ignoring the white elephant in the room.

I miss my Jim; my Jamie.  I miss seeing his sweet smile on his birthday. I have not, as odd as it may seem, dreamed of him even once, since his death.  I suppose, on some level, I am grateful, for I would hate to wake each morning tormented by the past.

I am not big on torment … or pain … or sorrow.

Life goes on and we either live it leave it.

I choose to live it.  Even when it makes me sad for without sadness sprinkled throughout, how could I truly embrace the joy.

I am a Sagittarian optimist.  I am, even as the tears threaten to fall, looking for the silver lining.  The tears will still fall.  My heart will still mourn.  My thoughts will still stray.  But at the end of the day, I will believe that everything will be ok.  And it will be.

Glass. Half. Full.

It’s just the way I roll.

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My ox was in the ditch …

in this case, my “Ox” was the looming chore of cleaning out the refrigerator.  I haven’t cooked in so long, it became commonplace to buy a gallon of milk, let it go bad, buy another gallon of milk and push the bad milk to the back of the fridge.

And so it went.  For weeks.  For months.  For years. For decades.  For centuries.  Ok, so maybe I’m embellishing a bit, but not much.

There were untold gallons of undrinkable milk, containers of unusable yogurt, rancid cottage cheese, a carton of eggs that Noah may have gathered on the Ark and a few things that I wasn’t able to identify.

Sad.

Sorry.

Inexcusable.

All of the above.

This is an undertaking that has been needing, desperately, to be tackled for a long time.  A very long time.  I would feel hungry and think I might fix a bite to eat then open the refrigerator door and see that nothing had changed.  I would, again, find the task to be more daunting than I could wrap my mind around, close the door and settle for toast-chee crackers.

I performed the same ritual, again and again, with the same result.  I felt a bit guilty, but obviously not enough to actually get on with the task at hand.

Until now.

Today dawned rainy and gray and I found I had a yen to make some red sauce.  Not the “open a can and heat it up” kind, but the “from the tomatoes up” kind.  I was once very adept at homemade cooking and enjoyed it immensely.  I would like to do so again and didn’t want to smother this bright thought in my head.

Then I opened the refrigerator door.

This time, however, it wasn’t enough to settle for crackers.  I rolled up my sleeves, double bagged several industrial sized, toxic waste approved garbage bags and got to work.

It was an arduous and, as you can imagine, rather ugly scene.  I thought I was going to have to find a hired hand just to carry the heavy bags to the garbage truck, but a strong back is a terrible thing to waste.

After much scrubbing, rinsing, bleaching then scrubbing, rinsing and bleaching some more, I have found it to be a respectable appliance worthy of edible food.  It is mostly empty now, sporting only a few jars of condiments and some jalapeno peppers, but I intend to rectify that this week.

The freezer got a dose of scrubbing, too.  The sum of everything in my freezer equals half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a pack of peanut butter Oreos, a wedge of Pecorino Romano and a bag of broccoli.

But it’s clean.

With that unseemly chore completed, I was able to get on with the fun stuff.  The tomatoes are even now simmering, along with red wine, fresh basil from my porch garden, anchovies, a garlic clove and an onion that somehow survived the prolonged neglect.

I felt the familiar thrill of making the knife dance across the cutting board while avoiding my fingers and I’m pretty sure I started humming.  I didn’t have any fresh cilantro to put in it, but I will, for next time.

It’s too early yet for the scents to make the mouth water, but in a bit of while, it will smell like glory.  My “Ox” turned out to be a blessing and I am thankful to have cleared out the cobwebs, so to speak and taken something, even if it is only red sauce, back.

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