We take care of our people through food, Emily and I. We pour out our love with piles of homemade pasta. We break fresh bread over big tables with lots of laughter. We celebrate with homemade cakes and rich cocktails and we aren't afraid to try out new recipes with our closest friends because food is how we connect with the ones we love.
It's why we started this blog.
Thrown apart by life with multiple states between us, it makes the caring for people through food a challenge. It makes the laughter across the table a distant memory. It makes the celebrations few and far between, and even when present a little bit more distracted #wehavekidsnow.
But again, it's why we started this blog.
Sharing food, when done right, is a multi-sensory experiences. The smells, the colors, the textures, the temperatures, the sounds, the feelings. It's all there. And when you can sit across with one another, share in all these experiences together, it brings you closer.
So how do you do that with the ones you love, when the ones you love aren't sitting across from you.
You do it anyway.
Today is Emily's birthday. I believe this is the third (fourth?) birthday post between us in this blog's three year history. I'm not surprised. Because, as I said, when Emily and I want to show the people we love how much they matter, we make them food. And more specifically, we make them food that is so familiar, using simple ingredients that we both love. For through this you take comfort in knowing that while the birthday recipient isn't sitting across from you tasting your love, they'll get it. Food is a powerful memory creator.
There's a book I gave to my sister for Christmas that tells of another friendship across the country, 3191 miles apart to be exact. Two friends who developed a friendship across the country, and through the internet and now books, share their lives with one another. Their latest book A Year Between Friends chronicles each month and the perspective each women has during that month. Recipes are included. When I saw February's, I could already taste it, and I knew my sister could too. Meyer Lemon Pasta. No words could better describe our loves. Also butter. And cheese. It's all in there. And I knew if my sister were here, I would make her this meal. Actually, we might make it together. That's how we show love.
So sister, on your birthday, tonight I cooked for my family. But let's maybe pretend you were here, shall we?
We'll start with a cocktail, of course, it is your birthday after all. But wait, maybe you're just feeling wine tonight. Something crisp, cool, but fit for a birthday. I'll open up this cheap bottle of wine and pour it into a fancy glass. Because, birthday. While we finish the pasta we snack. A few of my favorite TJ's snacks. Some salami and pistachios. It doesn't need to be fancy. You share my love of TJ snacks.
Let's pretend further that I made the pasta fresh for you (I did not. The professional pasta maker of the house was at work so fresh pasta from the store it is. If you were here you would give me so much slack for this. And then you'd probably shove me aside and make the pasta yourself. We're the best of friends.) Spinach pasta. Because it is pretty, not because of the vegetables.
There would be lemons. So many beautiful bright Meyer lemons. You introduced me to these delicious fruits. And I can't wait to use them all winter long.
The sauce is simple, derived from one of the finest dishes I had in all of Italy, Cacio e Pepe. We'll talk about how jealous you are of our trip to Italy and how you need to go. We'll then get distracted by planning your trip and the water will overflow in the boiling pot. Whatever, the guys will clean up the mess anyway. We both married up.
Anyway, the pasta, simply tossed with a ton of Romano cheese, black pepper, and butter. So much butter. We love butter about as much as we love lemons, probably more. Lemons don't taste good spread across bread.
I'll pull out some broccoli from the oven, roasted with garlic and lemons. So perfect with the pasta. But it's your birthday so you don't have to eat vegetables if you don't want to. I'll eat your share, it's that good. But WAIT, I'll shout dramatically, I forgot the Parmesan on the broccoli! (I did. It's not in the pictures. Oops.) You'll wave me away saying you don't need anyway. I'll insist. You'll roll your eyes.
And then we'll toast, to good food, and good company, and many more birthdays shared together. Or "together."
I hope I can make this for you in person one day soon. For now, know I send my love to you through words and image and happy pasta loving thoughts.
Happy Birthday, Sis!
Meyer Lemon Pasta + Lemon Garlic Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
Pasta adapted to taste from A Year Between Friends
4 large Meyer Lemons or 6 smaller ones, should yield 2 Tablespoon Zest and 1/2 cup juice
3/4 cup butter
1 lb. fresh spinach pasta, or any other fresh or dry flavor
1 cup Pecorino Romano, more to taste (I think I added up to 1/3 cup more)
1/4 cup Parmesan
Salt and Black Pepper
Zest and juice the lemons to yield above measurements and seperate. All lemons are different sizes so you might want to have a few more if yours are small. Mine were the size of a small country.
In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt butter with zest and 1.5 teaspoons of ground black pepper. Keep warm over low heat while pasta cooks.
Bring large pasta pot of water to boil. When boiling, add a good handful of salt, then pasta, and cook according to directions. Drain and reserve 3/4 cup cooking water.
Toss cheese and butter mixture with pasta and pasta water. Add lemon juice. Adjust to taste. I added more cheese and salt. Because I love salt. And so does my sister.
Lemon Garlic Parmesan Broccoli
24 ounces Broccoli Florets
2-3 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425. Toss broccoli with oilve oil, garlic, juice of lemon, 1/4 cup Parmesan and a hefty pinch of salt. Scatter on large roasting pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes. Top with the rest of the parmesan.