Pasta Aglio e Olio (Pasta with Garlic and Olive Oil)

from The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces by Diane Seed

1 lb. spaghetti (or other pasta - as you can see, I used egg noodles here)
6 Tbsp. olive oil
5 cloves garlic
1 small chili pepper
parsley, optional

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water, following the directions on the packet to avoid overcooking.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and add the garlic (I have found that a lower temperature is better - I'd say go for medium-low heat).  This is either left whole and removed before serving or it is finely chopped and not removed (I take the second approach).  Add the chili pepper which has been cut into 3 or 4 pieces, cook until the garlic is golden brown.

The moment the pasta is ready, drain it and put into a large serving bowl.  Remove the chili and garlic (if left whole) from the oil and pour the sizzling oil over the pasta, stirring well.  There must be sufficient oil to coat every strand of pasta and make it slippery and shiny.  Add chopped parsley if desired and serve immediately.

Confession: I thought that I had posted this months ago, and then I went looking for it and realized I had been depriving you!  I am so sorry.  I'm trying to make amends though.

This is a quick and relatively easy meal that I literally threw together the other night in about 20 minutes.  The most challenging part (for me) is finely chopping garlic, but that's it!  Oh, the other part is explaining to people you might see after you eat a bowl full of this why you smell so garlicky delicious.

If you happen to have extras around - say, some grape tomatoes, chopped/cooked chicken, or olives - this sauce is very accomodating.  Of course, some would say it's not "aglio e olio" anymore when you add that, but I'll let you call it what you want.  It's that simple, though - heat garlic in oil, pour it on pasta, and stir it up.  Now you see why I needed to share this, right?


Handwritten Recipes: Aunt Viola's Heirloom Banana Bread

In case you're wondering, the 'i' in 'Viola' is a long vowel sound - not like the instrument.  Say it with me: "Vie-OH-lah."  Yes, that's it.  Aunt Viola was my great great aunt, my great-grandmother's sister.  This recipe has made its way to my hands via my most excellent cousin Becky.  She knows me well (for proof, look closely at what's in parenthesis beside the chocolate chips in the ingredient list).  Cousin Becky, you're a winner.  

Aunt Viola's Heirloom Banana Bread

1 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
4 mashed bananas, frozen then thawed (this is extremely important.  Don't you dare use fresh bananas)
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. nuts (optional)
1/2 c. chocolate chips (not optional)

Mix until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Pour in greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 about 1 hour or until cooked through.

What's been keeping us busy, you ask?  Besides, of course, making and eating banana bread, naturally. 

Well, things like this: a 17-month old who's chatty and likes to pull books off of shelves (and then smiles a melting smile and flashes those blue eyes) - and preparing for my first ever CRAFT FAIR on Saturday 4/26 - and getting a community garden plot (20'x20' of local investment!) - and trying to firm up some farmer's market plans.  Oh, and neighbors and friends and visitors from out of town and local restaurants and spring time and surprise snows and kids.

Just a few little things.  But there's always time for family, and Aunt Viola's banana bread.  Naturally.


Handwritten Recipes: Chicken Potpie

This recipe comes from my friend Sara in Virginia - she's also got two little girls and a knack for the handmade!  She posts on a 52-week project blog called Rocktree Creations (it makes my little heart pretty happy).  Thanks for sharing, Sara!

Chicken Potpie - A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish from the More with Less Cookbook (this is more like chicken and dumplings than a casserole, just so you know ...)

Cook in a large kettle until tender:
1 large chicken fryer
2-3 qt. water
salt and pepper
Remove chicken, cool, and remove meat from bones.

Prepare vegetables:
2-3 potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 c. parsley, chopped

Prepare potpie dough:
Combine 2 c. flour and 1/4 c. salt
Cut in 1 Tbsp. lard or shortening or butter
Add 1/4 c. water and 1 large egg, slightly beaten.
Mix to form a ball.  Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Add vegetables and meat to broth.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  On a floured surfact roll out dough as thin as possible, cut into 1 1/2" squares, and drop into broth.  Cook 5-10 min and serve.

First of all, the use of the word "kettle" in the directions meant that I couldn't wait to make this one.  Not a pot, or even a stockpot ... nope, a kettle.  So, I found myself a kettle and cooked away.  The resulting soup was delicious and really hearty - and just so simple!  I love simple.  And REAL!  All this talk about "real food" as if it's a new fad - nope, it's been going on for ages.

Back to the recipe.  If I needed a shortcut, I would boil chicken pieces instead of a whole chicken - either thighs (because I love dark meat) or boneless skinless chicken breasts (because of ease).  The potpie dough was a little salty - 1/4 cup of salt will make that happen - but we like salty here so we went with it.  I think next time though I might add a tablespoon or two less.  But because there's not any salt added anywhere else in the recipe (except for boiling the chicken), it does add flavor to the rest of the soup.

I know, I know - it's not soup season anywhere else in the world - except for New England.  We've had some really lovely days, and some chillier days.  We're still waiting on the trees to bud, actually.  Not a leaf in sight in my neighborhood, folks.  All the snow is gone (thankfully) but we're still waiting on spring!  So, bring on the potpie!