Sunday, February 7, 2010

Self-Enforced Snow Days...

This weekend, like most, has just flown by. We had a minor snowstorm on Friday night which left us with six inches of snow. It was the perfect weekend to stay inside.

The weekend started with some strange, indecisive weather. All day Friday it rained but the temperature fluctuated. At any given moment it changed from rain to freezing rain to sleet and to snow. By the time we left work on Friday night, it was mostly snow and it was coming down hard.

For me, this was a natural excuse to make a run to Jungle Jim's. I needed groceries and if the weather got bad, I wouldn't want to go out. Voila...easy solution.

Also, since I have a guest, my good friend Saz, coming to visit next weekend, I promised to cook for her and I needed to get some ingredients in preparation.

Jungle Jim's was as useful as ever. I got everything I needed and even had time to do the usual fresh quail egg once-over. Alas, they still elude me. Still, I managed to get everything on my list as well as a few other irresistable options.

Saturday, I had intended to clean the house in preparation for my guest's visit. In the end, I actually talked myself into being only semi-productive instead of fully productive and instead decided to get the messy tasks out of the way and then spend Sunday cleaning up those messes as well as just general cleaning.

One of the messy tasks is laundry. I don't know about you but my laundry makes a mess. No matter how well I scour the pockets, somehow a tissue always makes its way into my laundry. It ends up getting wet and sticking to the clean laundry when I throw it into the dryer. Then, when the clothes are dry, the tissue sits, broken down, partially in the lint-catcher and partially, patiently, waiting until I open that dryer door to tumble out onto the floor below. Thus, I have a mess.

I also had to shovel my driveway so that when the time came, I could get out without sliding backwards into the ice mountain that the plows had left at the end of my driveway. I actually like shoveling snow. First, I get to be out in the snow. Second, it's great exercise and third, it's useful. Unfortunately, it means when I come in, even if I wipe your boots on the mat, I still manage to make a mess. My problem is that even though I try to put my trouser legs inside my boots, they always find a way to come out. They end up getting snowy and when I go inside, the snow melts, leaving and unintended trail.

I also needed to make ravioli. I promised Saz I'd make her butternut squash ravioli. Since it's a messy process that I haven't quite perfected yet, I thought it might be quicker and less embarrassing to premake the pasta and freeze it. I was feeling ambitious so, in addition to the butternut squash ravioli, I decided to make a ricotta and herb stuffed ravioli too. I made two batches of pasta dough- one regular flour, one semolina. Naturally, no matter how hard I tried to make my flour 'well' deep enough to hold the eggs as I gently beat them, I ended up having a slight eruption of my pasta volcano anyway. It means runny egg that tries desperately to escape from the flour but you can stop with some simple flour scooping. In the end, as long as you knead and tidy the dough, it all works out. I just wish I knew the trick to preventing Mount Versuvius every time I try to make pasta dough.

In the end, I spent about four hours making ravioli. You see, I have a little pasta maker that rolls the dough into a nice flat strip. I also have a nice ravioli press that you use to layer the dough, press indentations into it, add the filling, add another layer of dough and then use a rolling pin to press the dough so that the edges are defined and you can gently pull them from the press. Unfortunately, my pasta machine isn't quite as wide as my press so I can only make five ravioli at a time instead of ten. It's slow going. Fortunately, I had my iPod on. Also, it's fun. Four hours later and I was no longer mocking the ugliness of Croc shoes but understanding just a little why chefs wear them in the kitchen.

Still, even though I'm slightly obsessive compulsive about keeping my work area clean and tidy when I work, I'm messy with flour and some of it ends up on the floor.

So, when I did clean on Sunday, it was well worth it. My house is clean, shiny and comfy. I'll try to make it last until after my guest leaves but I have feeling I'll have to at least run the hoover around again.

I even managed to watch the Superbowl. I'm still sort of horrified/amazed that I actually did that. I quite like football, a fact which both amazes and astounds me. I wouldn't say it's nearly as fun as watching England do well in the World Cup but sometimes American Football can be quite exciting, especially when you know what's going on. It took me almost 15 years of leaving here to even begin to comprehend that so maybe that's got something to do with it.

Also, during the Superbowl, you're supposed to drink beer and eat bad food. Well, I did drink some beer and I attempted to make Superbowl food. I started out well- tomatillo salsa and tortilla chips. I had the salsa in the freezer from when I made it a couple of months ago. It was pretty tasty. Then I decided to cook. I thought about making a dip but somehow I ended up with a pancetta, egg and butter lettuce baguette. It was super tasty but not very Superbowl-y.

Now it's over. The Colts lost, the Saints won. As a Colts fan, it wasn't a great game for my team. They started out well but didn't do so well after half-time. Yet, if there ever was a team that I almost didn't mind beating us, it would be the Saints. After all, their running back, #25, Reggie Bush, used to play for USC and as a USC Trojan fan, that's not such a bad thing. Also, the team's from New Orleans. Not so long ago, New Orleans was a couple of years later, winning a Superbowl is pretty impressive.

So, it's Sunday night. Tomorrow morning looms closer than I'd like, the thought of my alarm going off into the darkness of my room, beckoning me to get up and go to work does not fill me with joy. It's hard to feel joyful on a Monday morning. It means that the weekend is absolutely, without a doubt, over and the world of the work week has the least until Friday.

But then it's a three day weekend and my best friend is coming to visit. We are supposed to get more snow between now and then but I'm hoping it'll be the accent to her visit, not a barrier.

All in all, though work is the pesky problem that lies between now and fun, I can't say that this past weekend wasn't fun. Though it was still productive, enforcing a 'snow day' on myself was a pretty nice little treat. There's nothing like staying inside, looking at the beauty of the snow and making ravioli to make life seem good.

Happy Monday!

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