Tuesday, May 18, 2010

We both love bacon, for example

Fourteen years ago this morning, I met my son for the first time.    We liked each other right off*.   Turns out, we had a lot in common:

He was late.  I haven't been on time for anything in years.**
He loved his dad. I loved his dad.
He slept like a rock.   I adore kids who sleep like rocks.
He thought we (his parents) were hilarious. We were, in fact, highly entertaining, at least when we had a captive audience unable to escape from the receiving blanket burrito we put him in***.

Other things were completely alien:

The little boy parts.
The fascination with construction equipment, garbage trucks, and trains.
The charm he exerted on perfect strangers****.
The bizarre affinity for balls, baskets, and ESPN.

Years later, the alien stuff has either faded away (construction equipment, trains) or become old hat (ESPN, charm).  And the list of things we share and delight in (Jon Stewart, sleeping in) has grown almost as large as that little boy's feet (Size 10 1/2.  My god).

Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Homemade Fettuccine Alfredo
Made by special request for JP on his 14th birthday.  Pasta recipe from my cooking class, sauce modified from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper.  If you don't have a pasta machine or the time, you can make this with dried fettuccine pasta instead of fresh.  Use 1 lb of good quality dried pasta.  But I say you have to try making your own at least once if you can.  

For the pasta

1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 c. semolina flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 eggs
1 Tbs. olive oil

For the Alfredo sauce

6 Tbs. butter
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 - 2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the pasta, mix the flours and the salt in the bowl of an electric mixer until blended.  Add the eggs and the olive oil, and mix until a stiff dough forms.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until it feels like very stiff play dough, about 5 minutes.   Allow to rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes.  You can throw dough into a plastic bag in the fridge for a few hours if you like.  Bring to room temperature before rolling and cutting.   Using your pasta machine, roll and cut into shapes.

Toss with flour to prevent sticking. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.   While that's going, melt the butter in a large skillet.   When the butter has melted, set aside and cook the pasta.  If it's fresh, this will take less than 2 minutes.  For dried, follow directions on the box, but stop about a minute before the directions call for.   Pasta should still be quite firm to the bite.   Immediately drain in a colander.   Place the skillet with the butter back on the stove over medium high heat.  Add the drained pasta and the cream.  Toss to thoroughly coat the noodles.  Continue to toss for 2-3 minutes, so the cream can permeate the pasta.  There should be very little cream in the bottom of the pan.   Finally, toss in the cheese.  Start with 1 1/2 cups and add more to taste.   Toss for 20 seconds.  Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with additional grated cheese and serve immediately.

* More like mad crazy awestruck love on my part.  I can't speak for him, but I'm pretty sure the books say he didn't even know he wasn't me until months later, so of course he was emotionally attached.  Plus, I had the milk.
** Except most of my air travel, and my days driving carpool.  I don't want to get kicked out of my carpool.
*** This is still highly effective today.  Wrap that kid in a Slanket(TM), and he's immobilized for hours.
**** The entire crew at our local Jamba Juice knew him by name because he went wild with excitement over the blenders.  We swapped holiday cards with the store manager at the supermarket because he spent hours outside clapping every time the doors opened and closed by themselves.   He prostrated himself with grief and channeled Stanley Kowalski, wailing"I-KEY-AH!!!" as we left the big blue building, only to be comforted by random shoppers loading up their SUVs.   Don't get me started on the girl in the bakery who handed me a cookie with sprinkles for him and said, "He's gonna be a hottie when he grows up!"   I nearly reported her.
***** He learned to count by 2s because of basketball, and preferred SportCenter to Sesame Street by the age of three.

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