Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Comfort me with spaghetti

It's been a rough few weeks Chez Hungry Dog. For one thing, the husband and I have both been dealing with some work stress. I know, we're supposed to be grateful that we have jobs--and we are. But that doesn't mean they don't bug us, and it certainly doesn't mean we can't complain about them.

The other thing is that we discovered our sweet dog is sick again. I can't even write about this, because it's slowly breaking my heart into tiny pieces, but suffice it to say, we've been spending as much time as possible at home with her, soaking up her lovely little essence and trying to be, although it is in neither of our natures, as much "in the moment" as possible.

Unfortunately the husband had to go on a work trip last week. In the nine years we've been together, we've rarely been apart, and that's the way we like it. Some people may call this co-dependent. I call it happy.

The other hungry dog and I got to get in some serious bonding time, which was great, but we were very pleased to see the husband return. Since then, comfort food has been in order.

There are plenty of foods that I'd identify as comfort foods, and it's no surprise that most of them are things that remind me of being a little kid. When I've got a cold, I love steamed chicken with ginger and scallions. My dad would make that when we were under the weather, steaming the chicken with black mushrooms, then serving it with scallions, ginger, and salt doused with a splash of hot oil to take the raw edge off.

I also love my mom's spaghetti. Not the most original comfort food, but an honest one. My recipe is based on hers, but over the years I've made it my own. Somewhere along the line I realized I didn't care much for ground beef (except in hamburgers) and started using ground turkey, usually a combination of light and dark meat. I also like to throw in some sweet Italian sausage. Other than that, the sauce has the usual suspects--onion, celery, carrot, tomatoes, and marjoram, which I prefer to oregano. I use a big glug of wine, and I finish it with fresh herbs, basil and parsley if I can. This time I also threw in some red and yellow heirloom tomatoes that were starting to look a little peaked.

On the night of the husband's return, I found comfort in assembling the sauce and letting it simmer away while we drank wine and he filled me in on his trip. The sauce turned out perfectly, the exact balance of sweet and acidic that I like. We ate steaming bowls of it as the dog sat next to me, her stony gaze switching steadily from the pasta bowl to my face. Give me some. As you know, her voracious appetite is the ultimate comfort to me. As much as I could, I just soaked it up, enjoying the moment. Sometimes that's the best thing you can do.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about your dog, I have a hard time with the impermanence of pets myself. The spaghetti looks great though. :)

  2. I will say a prayer for the puppy...

    I had spaghetti last night. It wasn't as luxurious as yours, but comforting all the same.

  3. Pasta is a great comfort food for me too. My family is Italian, so everything is about pasta!

    I'm sorry to hear your hungry dog is sick! I hope she's better soon. I have a beagle that is the polar opposite of your dog. She won't eat anything! Even if I offer her people food, she sniffs it and turns her nose up at it like I'm trying to poison her. But I love her anyway:)

  4. So sorry to hear about the dog. :(

    On the up side (if I may) - this is a really heartfelt, well written post. Good job. :)

  5. So, did the Pup get to savor some pasta? And, did you leave out the garlic deliberately? Which reminds me. I'm going to defrost Nana's "original" spaghetti sauce right now! Yum! Keep your "sisu" strong..both of you. The Mother

  6. Don't apologize for complaining about your job. You have every right to, and this is coming from someone who lost her job. But you know what? I also know how hard it is for people who still have jobs. They are now doing the work of four people. Companies have let so many employees go, but the work still has to be done. I'm glad the pasta dish did the trick to make a bad day much better.

  7. Bob: thank you. The spaghetti did cheer us up a bit.

    Cee: I figured you might understand.

    cravingchronicles: thanks--and thank you for stopping by. Give your little beagle a scratch for me!

    Erin: thank you for the compliment! I appreciate it.

    Mom: No pasta for the pup. I did use garlic--of course! Just forgot to list it. Thanks for all the good thoughts :)

    Food Gal: You said it. We went from a department of 7 to a department of 3...same amount of work to do though. Sorry about your job :(

  8. Oh I'm so sorry to hear about your dog! She is absolutely beautiful! Lots of pats and prayers to all of you :)

    Oh and spaghetti? Can't get more comforting than that!

  9. hi s, i'm so sorry to hear about franny. i always think of the three of you when i read your (wonderful) posts. xo

  10. Two Things:

    I admire the intimacy of your 3 member family. I sometimes feel it is better to love intensely those that matter then to love many thinly.

    I regret that I never really learned how to make my mother's curries and other recipes. I'd been particularly lamenting her spagetti sauce recipe (trite as it sounds), but then RB set out to recreate it. He asks lots of questions and forges his way through the baggage associated with the answers. The fact that he thought of this mission on his own is lovable beyond belief.

  11. Sad to hear about doggie!

    Glad you're back together (and happy:))...and I turn to pasta too when needing comfort. Although the chicken dish your dad made brings back memories too :)

  12. Karen: thank you so much. We think she's beautiful too!

    DS: Thanks, lady. I'll keep you posted.

    Alis: You are very sweet. And, good luck to RB recreating your mother's spaghetti with all that that entails. A labor of love!

    Shaz: thank you. Yes, there's something about pasta that just makes you feel better, even if it's fleeting.

  13. So sorry to hear about your dog and work.

    Work sucks but you just have to do it right?

    This is exactly the kind of thing I make when I feel this way. Almost always pasta too.

  14. I am so sorry to hear your dog is sick. We have a hungry dog ourselves and it is a heartbreak for the entire family when he is under the weather.
    Your post is lovely. I really enjoy reading them. Thanks for sharing.

  15. awww, it is so tough to look at liquid doggy eyes... I hope it gets better and at least she's still hungry! the spaghetti sounds delicious, I love it for breakfast

  16. Katerina: As my friend once said, if work didn't kind of suck they wouldn't have to pay you to do it.

    Gypsy Chef: Thank you so much. I love having you as a reader! And of course I love your blog too.

    foodhoe: spaghetti for breakfast, you just blew my mind.