I thought when I started working for myself, back in May, that I would be spending a lot more time in the kitchen. I had visions of rolling out pie crusts in the middle of the day, braving puff pastry from scratch, and at least once a week filling the house with the smell of good, yeasty bread.
It hasn't panned out like that at all. While I still spend more time in the kitchen than probably many people do during the week, I've always done that. Even when I was working in an office full-time, it was not unusual for me to roast up a pork loin to serve atop creamy polenta and a bitter green on a Tuesday night. I like to be in the kitchen, so it rarely feels like a chore to me. Few things relax me more than cooking leisurely while listening to the radio and drinking a glass of wine, with the husband and the other hungry dog periodically wandering in to check on me. It's the perfect mix of being alone and not being alone.
But now I'm busier during the day, with less time to daydream about what to make for dinner. And since I am working harder, sometimes I actually feel a little tired out by the end of the day.
The one way in which my new schedule has changed my cooking is that now I am able to make things that take a long time during the week--provided they are largely unattended. The kalua pig is a great example of this. It took five minutes to put together, and four hours later, dinner was served.
Yesterday I decided to make Giada's penne with braised short ribs. I'd seen her make it on TV awhile ago and had not forgotten how delicious it looked. The browning of the ribs and chopping the onion and garlic took a total of about 20 minutes; then, into the oven it went for two and a half hours.
The pasta was rich and deep in flavor, a result from long cooking as well as the fattiness of the short ribs. The recipe is a total hit, one which I will definitely repeat, although I must warn you, this is not for the delicate eater. If you aren't that into meat, or are squeamish about fat, skip it. Unfortunately, neither of these things bother me, so I dug right in.
A little goes a long way--as the husband pointed out, it's basically pot roast over noodles--not exactly light fare. But I really enjoyed it, especially on a rainy night, with the heat turned up and a bottle of Cabernet alongside. As you might have predicted, Frances also had the opportunity to sample some of the short ribs and she too deemed the recipe a blazing success.
The only change I made was that it called for fresh Roma tomatoes, which are nowhere to be found in December, at least not good ones. So I used whole canned tomatoes, and threw in an extra one or two, which turned out just to my liking.