When you strip away most everything, what are you left with? What do you do? What do you want to do? I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the last two weeks. I’ve been watching how we are all responding to being locked down and socially distant. There is no doubt that these are probably going to be the most challenging times we have ever faced. Those who are working in healthcare and critical fields don’t have the time to consider what they are doing. They are just doing. But the rest of us? Those whose job it is to stay home and keep their families home — what are we doing?
We are cooking. We are dancing and singing. We are gardening. We are taking walks and bike rides. We are painting and creating. We are reaching out to old friends and talking and laughing — even if it’s on Zoom or FaceTime. We are seeing the value of our “daily grinds.” School and work bring us much joy, we find. Our communities of learners and colleagues mean quite a lot to us when we don’t have them anymore. We are talking to our parents and siblings more. We are connecting with people who we may have had issues with in the past. We are letting go of the drama.
The drama? It’s privilege, really. It allows us to create problems when we don’t really have any hard ones. And what I think is this: the human spirit needs to solve problems. It needs to create and figure out how survive. And when survival is easy, we invent issues to make it hard. Drama with our family and coworkers. Whining that we don’t “feel like cooking dinner,” when we didn’t realize it was a privilege to just have food in our house. Being annoyed that your teenager is home past her curfew instead of reveling in the fact that she can laugh with her friends in person. Stressing about how you are going to get everything done instead of realizing that you don’t need everything.
The children are surviving without sports and activities. Families are sitting down for meals together. People are thinking about growing flowers and garden plants from seed and digging in their own dirt. Teachers are going above and beyond to maintain their learning communities — with less concern about adhering to state standards and much more concern with how their students are actually doing. Employees of nearly every industry are reconfiguring their business models and entirely reinventing what they do. We are suspending the rules that say we need to evict people and collect on debts and shut off utilities when someone is behind on their payments. We aren’t asking anyone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Musicians are playing free concerts for us because they need it and know we do too. We are all breathing in the fresh air and feeling the sun on our faces in a way that we haven’t in a long time.
There is much pain and suffering now and unfathomable amounts on the horizon. This will probably be one of the hardest periods in modern history. But when everything is stripped away, when everything is gone, maybe we are left with … everything.
Recipe from Anne Burrell
Makes about 1.5 pounds of fresh pasta
1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 ⅓ cups, but weigh to be sure)
4 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
1 to 2 tablespoons water or more if needed
- Put the flour on a clean dry work surface or in a very large bowl. Make a hole (this is also called a well) in the center of the flour pile that is about 8 inches wide (bigger is definitely better here). Crack all of the eggs and the yolk into the hole and add the olive oil, salt and water.
- Using a fork, beat the eggs together with the olive oil, water and salt. Using the fork, begin to incorporate the flour into the egg mixture; be careful not to break the sides of the well or the egg mixture will run all over your board and you will have a big mess! Also, don’t worry about the lumps. When enough flour has been incorporated into the egg mixture that it will not run all over the place when the sides of the well are broken, begin to use your hands to really get everything well combined. If the mixture is tight and dry, wet your hands and begin kneading with wet hands. If it is still not coming together, you can add a spoonful of water at a time until it does. When the mixture has really come together to a homogeneous mixture, THEN you can start kneading.
- When kneading it is VERY important to put your body weight into it, get on top of the dough to really stretch it and not to tear the dough. Using the heels of your palms, roll the dough to create a very smooth, supple dough. When done the dough should look VERY smooth and feel almost velvety. Kneading will usually take from 8 to 10 minutes for an experienced kneader and 10 to 15 for an inexperienced kneader. Put your body weight into it, you need to knead! This is where the perfect, toothsome texture of your pasta is formed. Get in there and have fun!
- When the pasta has been kneaded to the perfect consistency, wrap it in plastic and let rest for at least 30 minutes. If using immediately, do not refrigerate. If you would like to make it ahead of time, wrap tightly and refrigerate. Return the dough to room temperature before you roll it out.
- Roll and cut the pasta into desired shape.
Cuizoo’s Take on Marcella Hazan’s 3 Ingredient Tomato Sauce
Yields 8-12 servings, or enough sauce for a double batch or about 3 dozen meatballs or 2 batches of pasta
Marcella Hazan has a famous 3 ingredient tomato sauce with simply tomatoes, onion, and butter. I love it as she does it and also with a few additions to give it a few more than three ingredients. It is equally delicious over pasta or in recipes!
2- 28 ounce cans of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes (don’t strain)
12-16 T of butter, 1 ½-2 sticks (can reduce a bit, but the sauce won’t be as delicious!)
1 large onion, peeled and cut in half
2 t sugar
2 t salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Small bunch of fresh basil
3 garlic cloves, peeled
In a large stock pot, combine tomatoes and their juices, butter, onion, sugar, salt and pepper. If you have a small cheesecloth bag, place basil and garlic in it, tie it up, and put it into tomatoes. If you don’t, just throw it all in the pan together. Place on stove over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, mostly covered. Stir every once in a while. When ready to serve, remove cheesecloth with basil and garlic and the whole onion (and fish garlic/basil out if it is loose). All that should be left in the pan is the tomatoes and sauce. Mash the tomatoes if desired and check for seasoning. If tomatoes are overly acidic, you may need another pinch of sugar and/or more salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.