Baked Pasta, Purpose & Love

It feels pretty ironic to have a pandemic right now. After having gone through pure hell after my husband died to get my grieving daughters through high school and into college, pay off an enormous tax bill, and hold onto my real estate. It was the ultimate Rubrik’s Cube. Only in the last few months have I felt the dust finally settling.

Now, I am concerned for the well being of my elderly neighbors, my friends with parents far away and the many families around me juggling work and childcare. Not to mention the world at large.

This feeling is nothing new for my family. My daughters and I have been here before. We’ve sat together in our dining room having these conversations in the past. How to handle the current crisis. How to plan and deal with it. Back then, they both had to get after school jobs, save their money, get good grades and academic scholarships, support each other, pitch in around the house, help with Ocean SF and be low drama. Now is no different.

On Saturday we met and divided Ocean SF tasks. Paris is doing all the Public Relations. Siena is working on advertising. We had a Zoom call with our Vintage Ocean SF partners. We will keep this dream alive no matter what. That has always been the vision.

We have a daily schedule. We are working on our neglected garden everyday at 1:30 for half an hour. We do this together, it’s mostly pulling weeds, trimming trees and raking debris from the wind storms earlier in the year. We walk the dog at 3:30. In between we work on school and paid work. I am able to work for The Learning Space as an educational therapist online. I have my first online sessions today. I am also working for Acalanes High School tutoring English and World History. Soon, I will be prepping for my in-person college level leadership class at UC Berkeley.

Now, at 6:30 we have a cooking lesson. Once upon a time I cooked dinner almost every night. My recipes were so popular with my friends and family that I typed them up and turned them into a cook book called Real Food for Real People (you can buy the digital copy here on Amazon).

Chicken and Whiskey Soup

Later, after my husband died I didn’t cook at all. Or, so it seamed. If I did cook I would make three meals at once. But mostly, I made egg sandwiches, paninis, or quesadillas. I also brought food home from the three catering companies I worked for then. When my boss would tell me to throw platters of food away, I would dump everything into my tote bag. This included fresh fruit, cheese of every variety, beautiful breads and gourmet crackers. I would also rescue buckets of flowers slated for the trash.

So, these times do not feel so unfamiliar. Last night the cooking lesson was a baked pasta dish. We chopped onion and fresh garlic. I demonstrated to my daughters how to sauté the onion until it was translucent, then add the garlic and not let it burn. Next, delicious Italian sausage was added and browned. In went the red wine, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and basil. Then, it was left to simmer.

Rome, Italy 2019

My older daughter opened a good bottle of red wine she had brought from school. We decanted it and poured it into lovely wine glasses. I gave a quick lesson on wine. Swirl, smell and sip.

My daughter strained the pasta and poured it into the pan with the sauce. I turned up the heat letting the fragrant sauce soak into the steaming pasta. Together we poured it all into a deep baking dish and covered it in fresh mozzarella and parmigiana cheese. As it baked the three of us sat at our kitchen table drinking wine and talking about our future and life’s purpose. I got up and rubbed each of their tense shoulders and told them how happy I am that I have this time to teach them to cook.

When I’m gone they will remember this, and if they don’t they can download my book with all of their favorite recipes from childhood.

Love and blessings to all.

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