I have a necklace that every time I wear it at least one person comments on how much they like it. And I love it when that happens because it allows me to say, “Oh, thanks. I got it in Paris!” Then, if they inquire more, I go on to tell them all about the little old man who I bought it from. And how I walked past his shop window each morning after breakfast and on the last day we were in Paris he beckoned me to go into his store to try the necklace on that I’d been eyeing (like a child outside a toy store) for the past several days.
Up until we had J. (my son), I believed that my necklace was the ultimate conversation piece. I was wrong.
BABIES are the ultimate conversation pieces. Everywhere I go now, people who I do not know strike up conversations with me.
My favorite random conversation with a stranger happened at the River Market in downtown Kansas City just a week after J. was born. Jeff and I were shopping at the Al Habashi Mart when a gal stopped me to tell me how beautiful our son was. I thanked her and then she said, “You know, not all babies are cute. In fact, there are a LOT of ugly babies out there. But yours is not one of them,” and then off she went.
Yesterday during lunch a woman approached us at our table to let us know that our son had made a terrible mess. When I looked down I saw that a bunch of peanut shells were on the floor directly beneath the side of the table where he was situated. I smiled. Jeff said, “If you think THAT’S a mess, you should see what he does at home!” The lady laughed and then spent the rest of her lunch pointing out, comically, to other passers by how messy our sleeping baby boy was.
And then today, while out and about, a man walking behind us said, “Hey! Great mustache!” (referring to the awesome mustache pacifier J. uses). When I turned around to see him I noticed he had one just like our son’s (only, clearly, his was real) and I thanked him and told him he’e been working on it for quite some time now.
Of course, most of the conversations start out with: “How old is your baby?” and “Ohmygoodness, look at all of that hair – you must have had a ton of heartburn!” and “Your baby’s name is J.?! So is my uncle’s/brother’s/best-friend-from-college’s/dog’s/nephew’s name!”
Perhaps one of these days I’ll dress J. up WITH my necklace from Paris… I can’t imagine how many conversations that would create!!!
(And Jeff, dear husband of mine, if you are reading this, don’t worry. I was just kidding, I will not take our son out wearing jewelry… I promise). 🙂
SPAGHETTI WITH GREEN-TOMATO BACON SAUCE
This summer we planted eleven tomato plants and not one of them produced an abundance of tomatoes. We brought in perhaps eight or nine ripe fruits all summer long. And as far as I was concerned, we had no hope of harvesting any more tomatoes from garden this year. However, just within the past couple of weeks we noticed that two of our eleven plants were covered with large green unripe tomatoes. We’re still holding out that a few may ripen before the first frost comes and kills what we have left.
But, in case that doesn’t happen, I decided to start researching recipes that call for unripe green tomatoes. This is one that I found on-line and knew I had to try immediately. I made a few modifications – I omitted the pepperoncini and swapped out the pecorino Romano for Parmesan (because Jeff thinks pecorino smells and tastes like feet). Both Jeff and I thought the pasta was de-lic-ious! The green tomatoes, once cooked down, actually take on a nice rustic but tangy flavor. And combined with the fresh green parsley, the buttery parm, and the salty bacon… YUM. This dish is a real powerhouse of flavor!
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound green tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 pound uncooked spaghetti
- 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, plus more for garnish
- Freshly ground black pepper
In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain and reserve 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 60 seconds.
Raise the heat to medium high. Add the tomatoes, salt and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and start to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the some of the liquid evaporates and the tomatoes are a bit saucy.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta.
Put the drained pasta back into the pot and add the cooked tomatoes, cheese, 1/2 cup parsley and cooked bacon. Toss until combined, adding reserved pasta water to moisten, if necessary. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper.
Divide the pasta among warm plates, sprinkle with additional parsley and serve immediately.