I know I write about cooking a lot. While I really would rather be upstairs sewing (wait 'til you see what I'm currently working on), I have a houseful of people who need to be fed. Since it's something that has to be done, I might as well make it interesting... and yummy.
One of my Christmas presents last month was the book, The Lost Art of Real Cooking by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger. I love this book. I mean, how can you not love a cookbook with this paragraph in the introduction?
"The premise of this book is a simple one. For the past half century, Americans have been convinced that cooking is drudgery, an odious task to be avoided at any cost, so that time might be freed up to do other more Important things. We were enticed with a constant stream of ingenious gadgets meant to make our lives easier, as well as products cheerfully advertised as being Quick, Convenient, and Simple to prepare. For the sake of saving labor, these new products were highly processed, packed with artificial flavors and additives, and were usually seriously lacking in the single most indispensable attribute of gastronomic pleasure: Honest Good Taste. Or they were so loaded with sugar and flavor enhancers that our palates eventually became jaded, to the point that we came to prefer powdered fluorescent drinks over real juice, flaccid canned vegetables over briskly crunchy fresh greens, even heinous atrocities such as margarine over real butter. Most important, these industrially produced foods were neither fun to prepare nor interesting to serve. And what did we do with all that free time? We worked longer hours in the office, and came home to work out on our basement treadmills. When you think of it, what could be more important than feeding yourself and others with good, wholesome, well-prepared food and truly enjoying the experience?"
Which is why B. and I found ourselves in the kitchen yesterday making homemade pasta, rolling it out, and filling it with a pesto and ricotta cheese filling. The ravioli turned out pretty well despite the fact we had never done this before and used the completely wrong kind of flour. (All we had in the kitchen was ground hard wheat... wonderful for bread, not so great for pastry and, it turns out, pasta. I guess I'm seriously going to have to consider buying soft wheat berries when the next bulk order comes 'round.) But, there were no left-overs and probably because of our flour choice, very filling. I'm willing to try the homemade pasta-thing again. At this point I'll pause while some of my friends have a good laugh... it is something I said I would never do.
So what's next on the list from this book? Well, I'm intrigued by some of the bread recipes, A. really likes sauerkraut and would love it if we could make our own, and if I could ever convince some of my Arizona readers with olive trees to send me a box of uncured olives, I'd love to try that. (Wouldn't it be so much better to think of all those olives happily brining away in a crock in my basement than being squished into a yucky black pulp on the sidewalk?)