Writing with Discipline and Gnocchi

It’s time to start writing again. I’ve been saying this for nearly two years now, as it has been that long since I have written anything worth keeping up with. That being said, I realize that writing is a process, and out of respect for myself and “the process”, I’ve waited for awhile to get back into it.

As an avid home cook, it seemed natural to want to write about my hits and misses in the kitchen. That’s my starting point. I make a lot of mistakes in the kitchen; I overcook pasta, I undercook fish (and try to fix it by nuking it in the microwave and being greeted with a salmon explosion 30 seconds later) and sometimes I forget to put sugar in banana bread.

For Christmas 2008, I gave my parents what  I called “The Twelve Dinners of Christmas”, which was 12 menus for 2009. I made dinner for them once a month, cobbling together my amateur cooking experience and my desire to produce something memorable in the kitchen. It was a hit. My parents loved coming home from a long day at work to dinner bubbling happily away in the oven.

A few dishes I made in 2009:

Grilled Peppered Steak with Cabernet Balsamic Sauce, Alaskan Halibut with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, Shrimp Scampi, Rigatoni with White Bolognese, Down and Dirty Pasta e Cecci and  Beef and Ale Stew.

What I made is less important than the time I got to spend in my mother’s kitchen (my favorite room in the world) and the time I spent with my parents. In November last year I asked them what they wanted for Christmas. My mom didn’t skip a beat, “We loved your gift last year! You can do that again.”

I thought about it for awhile. Would I be able to come up with creative enough menus? Could I challenge myself a little more? I mean, I wasn’t serving blue box mac and cheese, but I was no Julia Child, either. I had read somewhere that Julia had said something along the lines of , “People may not remember what you fed them, but they will remember how they felt at your table.”  Of course!

Tonight, I’m making butternut squash gnocchi and chicken under a brick. I’ve never made gnocchi before, so mom and I are going to tackle it together.  Lidia Bastianich’s recipe is in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine, and we are up for the challenge. Pictures to be posted later, if it all works out!

My mom has already tried find out which recipes will be included in next year’s menu. Apparently, she knows what she wants to for Christmas, already.

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