Cooking up some fun – 1/1/12

Like most New Year’s Days past, today was a peaceful, quiet day spent at home with Rich and the kids.

If I had to describe what I did today, I’d say it was periods of intense productivity interrupted by periods of total laziness. Washed a bunch of dishes, then sat and surfed the ‘net. Cleaned out and rinsed all of the old jars of sauce and expired stuff from the fridge, then took a nap. You get the idea.

I did some cooking, too, which included teaching my daughter Amy how to make one of her favorite meals, Pasta Fagioli. We made it from scratch, which first entailed a quick lesson on the differences between tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste.  I use all three when I make sauce, because they’re made with different kinds of tomatoes, which offers layered flavors that enhance the finished product. I also schooled her on the finer points of “why we take the time to rinse the cannellini beans.”  (Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart; beans, beans…) The pasta fagioli turned out great, and gave her sense of accomplishment knowing that she can make it herself now.

I also made a lobster bisque soup, using the shrimp stock I’d made last week when I was cooking the shrimp cocktail for Christmas Eve.  The fish monger made a mistake and, instead of pre-cleaned shrimp, he gave me the ones with the peels still on. Instead of getting annoyed at all the extra work, I decided to save the shells and boil them up in the cooking water once the shrimp were done and cooling, which yielded about 6 cups of stock. I used Paula Deen’s Creamy Shrimp Bisque recipe, but made a few small alterations. I didn’t have any leftover shrimp, so I used chopped lobster tail, and I used lowfat half and half because that’s what we had in the fridge. It seemed a little thin, so I mixed a few tablespoons of flour with cold water and added that to thicken it up. I also threw in a few sprinkles of paprika and dollop of tomato paste to get a nice, deep pink color.  It was delicious!

And now, I’m relaxing with the kids and watching “Star Trek IV: A New Hope.”  I love this movie–saw it in the theater more than a dozen times back in 1977–and can’t help but watch it whenever I come across it while channel surfing. I’m not surprised that the basic principles of “The Force” have given rise to an entire religion (The Church of the Jedi).  I didn’t recognize it when I first saw the movie 34 years ago–probably too busy gazing at Han Solo–but with time, I’ve come to appreciate the universal appeal of the movie’s more spiritual aspects. The concept of one divine force that connects all of us, one that can be used for good or evil…that’s a basic principle that you’ll find in every religion.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve decided to experiment with using this blog as something of a journal. It goes along with that whole “2012 to-do” list item about wanting to write more. I’m not deluded or conceited enough to believe that the goings-on of my everyday life will be of interest to anyone but me, but this blog seems as good a place as any to jot them down.

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