motherlode

Full Cappelletti (or Ravioli) Recipe from Motherlode

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012 | Connecting the Dots, Feeding the Devils | 1 Comment

I uploaded the full, 11 minute long pasta making video I made for my cousin (minus the NYT intro) to YouTube. You should be able to see it above, but if not, it’s here.

Ready to roll.

I posted a video and some thoughts about sharing a kitchen’s worth of ethnic heritage to the NYT Motherlode, and several commenters asked for the full recipe, so here goes. This is SO not in proper NYT recipe style! But it’s worked for years. Decades. Generations. I guess that’s the point.

Cappelletti/Ravioli

Filling

1 lb ground meat mixture (pork/beef/chicken) fried in ½ stick butter
3 cups grated cheese, half romano, half parmesan
1 cup bread crumbs
salt, pepper
3 garlic cloves
pinch nutmeg
3 eggs

Fry meat in butter with three garlic cloves, add salt, pepper. Remove garlic cloves after cooking. Add pinch nutmeg. When cool add beaten eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, mix well. Refrigerate at least an hour or over night. Can freeze extra filling, but do NOT defrost in microwave—let it defrost in fridge. I know, that seems obvious, but still.

Dough

Food processor before gasping last desperate breaths.

4 eggs
approx. 2 ¼ cups flour

Mix eggs in mixer or food processor, add all flour, mix slowly until dough ball forms, then switch do dough hook and let it beat around a while. Take it out and knead it by hand, then leave it in the fridge until ready to use. At least an hour is best, but you can use it right away if you don’t mind sticky. I should probably say I have killed two food processors this way, but this last one has hung on a while.

Part-way mixed.

Ready to come out and knead by hand.

Squoosh, squoosh. It’s harder than it looks. Italian grandmas have great arms.

You can see another post on making pasta, with more detailed illustrations on rolling it (although I made spaghetti with it that time, but the dough is always the same) here.

You’ll have to watch the video for the fold, and you can also see my mother making the filling with me grilling her at every step (and you can hear how approximate the recipe really is, as she sits there going “well, I think I put in a cup of bread crumbs…maybe half a cup, it just depends) and watch me make a small batch of dough with her grilling me at every step (and me saying “well, I think I put in a cup of flour, it depends…). Or you can just make ravioli, which you make exactly like you’d think you’d make them. Fold the dough over the filling, cut, seal. Mom does that way at the end of the video, about minute 10.

A perfect sheet of dough.

Cappelletti, I need hardly say, goes in soup. Any soup. Growing up, my mom used Wyler’s beef boullion cubes, which I can’t even spell now, let alone find, and I loved it them. I use boxed chicken broth, or very occasionally real soup, which is honestly too rich most of the time.

Ravioli goes in sauce. I make my sauce with a big can of Muir Glen diced tomatoes with garlic and basil. First I sauté extra grated garlic, and maybe some grated onion, then I add salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar, and then I puree the hell out of it with my hand blender because I hate chunky sauce.

And that’s it. We freeze it in bags suited for a meal, I serve 8 ravioli to kids and 12 to adults, and figure 10-12 cappeletti each for soup. It lasts months, particularly if you have hoarding tendencies. Make a double batch of sauce, freeze half, and it’s practically an instant meal the next time. Loaf of bread, bottle of wine, you’re ready to go. I hope someone tries it. I hope my cousin Ashlyn tries it!

Enjoy.

Rory turns the handle, circa 2011.

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“Happier at Home:” Gretchen’s Project, KJ’s Clutter

Sunday, September 9th, 2012 | Connecting the Dots, Motherlode | 9 Comments

You can’t really click to look inside, I was just too lazy to use my own image. You can, however, click the name of the book in the post to get to Amazon and buy the book.

Motherlode sneak peek: Next week, I’m going to Boston to meet up with Gretchen Rubin and record a video introduction to a series of posts she’ll be writing for Motherlode starting 9/17. Like so many of us, I found a friend when I first opened Gretchen’s book “The Happiness Project,” and when that words-only friend turned into an actual live friend (at the ASJA conference) a while ago, that was even better—especially now that it means Gretchen will be writing a weekly Motherlode post this fall. (About what? That’s the only part I’m not going to tell you here.)

Since Gretchen’s writing for me, I thought I’d turn the tables and write, well, not “for” her but “inspired by” her. I know plenty of people started their own “happiness projects” after Gretchen’s first book. I did nothing so official, but this time, perhaps instigated by the fact that her very first topic in “Happier at Home” is something I know would make me much happier if I could just get a grip on it: clutter.

Ok, Gretchen doesn’t call it clutter. She calls it, rightly, “Possessions,” and that just puts a much happier spin on the whole thing, or at least it would, if my “possessions” weren’t so buried in my clutter that it’s become very hard to tell the difference.

I’ll blog my own “Happier at Home” project, which conveniently enough Gretchen began one September, every Sunday night along with my now-weekly Motherlode sneak peaks (and probably the occasional mid-week picture update of my, um, progress).

Gretchen started her latest project with “Possessions” because she’s smart enough to know that the clutter isn’t all there is to her relationship to her stuff. “My possessions had a powerful influence over the atmosphere of my home, and they contributed to, and reflected, my sense of identity,” she wrote.

I know what she means. I battle the clutter and mess of two adults and four children with an abundance of identity in the form of books, toys, magazines, newspapers and small, indeterminate but invariably important plastic objects (whose importance rarely becomes clear before they’re thrown away) daily, but the clutter isn’t all I’m dissatisfied with as I survey my domain. We just don’t live, physically, they way I want to live, or even the way we want to live. It’s pretty depressingly Tobacco Road around here, and I suspect the friend who just sent me an email about her new no-filter fish tank may have been commenting on our tank, which has been fish-free and filled with evaporating water for months. (Ok, maybe longer.)

Gretchen’s goals, and mine.

Gretchen’s goal was to “Find a True Simplicity.” Mine is to Cultivate an Ordered Calm. “Simplicity” will never reign here; I like clear surfaces but I also like books and magazines and easy access to things we love and use, and a few toys here and there don’t bother me as long as, if the spirit moves the child to put the toy away (and my “spirit” I mean “allowance” or possibly “threat”), there is a clear place to put it.

I’m adopting Gretchen’s second resolution, “Go shelf by shelf” as my first. My goal is to remove and clear, and to keep only what I “know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” with an eye towards finding a place for everything that remains, even if not everything is in its place.

It’s not at all realistic to expect that I’ll have gone “shelf by shelf” in our 4 bedroom house by next Sunday, but I’ll at least write about where we stand, and whether the bookshelf I took out of the guest room upstairs and then couldn’t find anywhere to put except the hall floor is gone, next Sunday. Beyond that lie two more resolutions for September: Make it right, and Put it back.

I want to do more than clear the clutter. I want to get what stays behind right: to finally replace the kitchen soap dispenser and repair the broken dresser drawer and put all the pieces in the Monopoly game. That, to me, is “make it right.”

And then I want to learn to keep it that way. “Put it back,” means more than that. It means embracing David Allen’s requirement that if it takes less than 2 minutes, you do it now by putting the tape back after wrapping a present, or picking up the clump of hairbands and replacing them in the box instead of dropping them in the nearest bowl. If I’m going to be happy with my possessions, each thing needs a place, and I need to make a habit of resecting those places.

Honestly, I go into this discouraged and overwhelmed. We’ve been letting things pile up for the five years since we moved into this house, and we have both had to accept of late that the children never put anything away because we rarely do: yep, there are six plastic spaceships and a half-built lego on the coffee table, but then, there’s a Sunday times and an open notepad (mine) next to them, and the bag I brought out yesterday to dig out hand-me-down soccer cleats on the floor next to it, unreturned to its place, and next to me on the end table is the squirt bottle Rob used to squirt the dog for barking at the UPS man on Friday.

A sneak peak of hall chaos.

I set out to clean the hall today, and mostly just stood gazing miserably, knowing that I can’t really clean out the shoe cubbies unless I pull out all the outgrown shoes, and I can’t pull out the outgrown shoes without something to put them in, and then I will need to take the ones that aren’t handed down somewhere and put the ones that are somewhere else, with a label and the hope of finding them in two years (girls) or four (boys). And that’s just the shoes; there are jackets and rackets and swimsuits and kites and backpacks and hats…

I finally managed to open the four elfa drawers that store up the projects children bring home from school all year; in a happy, ideal family, one goes through these at the end of the year, pulls out treasures, tucks some away, frames a few pictures and talks to each child about his or her school year. Instead, I dumped last year’s contents into the four bins I keep their artwork in in the basement without a word while three were out with various friends and the fourth played Minecraft. Now they’re empty and ready for 2012-2013, filled only with my intent to do better next year and the near certainty that I won’t.

I’d hoped for before and after pictures of a hallway transformed, but instead, I realized I needed the bins I keep Sam’s clothes in upstairs for mittens, etc., which meant taking Lily’s doll clothes out of his old dresser and giving it back to him and then switching the bins currently in the hallway for swimsuits up for doll clothes and…well, long story short, all the bins and the dresser are empty; the swimsuits and Sam’s entire wardrobe are in various piles, and it is all much, much worse than it was when I started.

What is it Gretchen always says? Happiness doesn’t always make me feel happy. But it really, really will feel so good when it’s done—and making the mess guarantees that one way or another, I’m going to have to pick it up!

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Of COURSE I Can Interview Anne Lamott i/f/o the Whole Times Newsroom

Sunday, March 18th, 2012 | Connecting the Dots | 3 Comments

I’m beyond thrilled about the Motherlode Book Club reading Anne and Sam Lamott’s Some Assembly Required, and ditto for the opportunity to interview them both, for a short video to be posted on the Motherlode blog. I’ve always loved Anne Lamott’s work. This follow-up to Operating Instructions is fascinating: her son had a son. At nineteen.

There are so many questions to ask them both about that that the mind boggles. (The mind also notes repeated use of that in previous sentence, but that’s what made sense. Sorry.) I’d be thrilled–over coffee.

Now, doing it on the Times’ news set, which is smack dab in the middle of the Times newsroom…that makes me nervous. (Who are we kidding–interviewing Anne Lamott makes me a little nervous, but that I can wrangle.)

I know Times staffers don’t pay any attention to what goes on on the set. They just walk right by. But I’m distractible. Lots of people walking right by could easily just throw the end of my question right onto their lunch tray and walk off with it. I’ll be revved to ask the tough questions, you know, giving Terry Gross a run for her money, and all the sudden I’ll be all, hey, did you see? She had a Starbucks mocha! I want a Starbucks mocha!

Even with really good editing, this should be interesting. So, tune in next week (probably Wednesday, as this happens Tuesday) and see if you can tell that I am sitting there pretending very hard that oh, I just interview famous authors that I admire in the middle of the Times newsroom with people drifting by all. the. time. Because that’s just how cool I am. Also, poised. Really, and in control and on topic at all times.

Actually, I feel a whole lot better about my interviewing skills (which have improved dramatically in the past two years) since listening to the unedited interview Krista Tippet did with Nicolas Kristoff in February. (SO worth a download.) Edited, she sounds completely together: fast, with great recall and depth of knowledge, and the right follow-up questions every time.

Unedited, she still sounds great (On Being is one of my favorite shows–she should have Anne Lamott on), but with more, yanno, digression. More oh, hey, you said this one thing I wanted to ask about–wait, I wrote it down–and more conversation, which is always my downfall. I want to interview you, but it’s easier for me to express what I’m interested in by talking than in a perfectly worded question, and I often replay my interviews thinking oh, hey, when am I going to let her talk?

For this, I’ll be (very well) edited, and I’m confident it’s going to be great. I’m reasonably confident that I’ll find the balance between admiration and consternation, too–because the elephant in the room is that hers was in some sense the iconic-non-advice-baby-advice book, and her baby –well, can’t we love the resulting grandkid without pretending that this wasn’t the path anyone would have chosen for a beloved child? On some level they must each be mourning what wasn’t, but the book is about embracing what is. I’ll be doing my best to go there, and get talking about both.

Oh, and the Times’ video wizards can probably cover up the moments when my gaze drifts off because someone walked by with a box of donuts. But you’ll know.

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Me and Malibu Pilates. And of Course, This Week at Motherlode

Sunday, March 11th, 2012 | Connecting the Dots | 4 Comments

I got sucked in by an infomercial.

I haven’t exercised in months. I had pneumonia last, um, August. And although that excuse obviously eventually became somewhat less than valid (I think even the most sympathetic of us would have to agree that I am probably all rested up now). you know, one thing led to another, I finished a draft of my book, auditioned for Motherlode, took the job…I was busy, ‘kay?

But inspired by a variety of things: this great Real Simple series on Time, my ever-softening midriff, my third annual jaunt to the Waterbury, VT “Gravel Grinder” season-opening ride (23 miles, 3000 vertical feet) and my general feeling of just never, ever having enough energy, I’ve relaunched ye olde exercise plan. Oh, and also picked up this book, The Power of Habit (awesome excerpt in the NYT magazine a couple of weeks ago) in the hopes of improving a few things here and there, the whole workout thing being one of them.

I’m well on my way. First of the season bike ride last week, and then a surprise snow dump up here at what we like to call the “higher elevations” (which means we can often see down to neighbors who didn’t get snow when we did) led to the first–and last–time we will groom our trail this season.

I am willing to bet you never imagined this was what I did with my free time.

But snow is over (although at least I finally remembered why we like the stuff) and biking, while fantastic, too time consuming to make up the whole of anyone’s fitness routine. I won’t run on the treadmill, like my husband. I won’t ride an exercise bike, like my husband. (I think this has something to do with not watching Sports Center, as they seem somehow connected.) What to do, what to do…

And then there I was, couch bound, while Rob scrolled the on-screen TV guide, which we mostly do so we can mock the movie descriptions, when I say “Susan Lucci Pilates.”

I have no idea what made me say “what’s that?” Perhaps I am still trying to remember if she ever son that Emmy. Maybe I have “All My Children” Flashbacks. I don’t know. Put I made him stop, and there was THIS:

It was so small. And it looked so easy. And everyone using it looked so sculpted. And even Rob said “that does look kind of okay.”

I think I now have to pay them $15 a month for eternity or my money back. Or something like that. It came Friday, and my first workout today consisted of dragging it up the stairs and removing all the packaging. DVD Number one is in the computer, ready to fire up first thing in the am. No excuses. 20 minutes. I’m doing it, on weekdays, for the next four weeks, so help me.

And then I’ll either be telling you all how awesome it is, or trying to hide what an idiot I am (an idiot who also owns something called “Beach Body” and the “Cardio Zumba Kit”) while I look for someone to take it off my hands on Craigslist.

At work tomorrow, AFTER my 20 minute malibu something-or-another-workout, and if I am not trapped in the springs of the chair. I get to choose among the panelists for the first Motherlode Book Club: Anne and Sam Lamott’s “Some Assembly Required.” I’m half way through, and this ought to be a great discussion. And I’m stalking my next selection–a fantastic, controversial book that I”m dying to talk about on Motherlode. Can’t tell yet, though.

I’ve got guest posts to read (sorry, waiting authors)–this is one of those habits I need to work on: faced with the choice of writing or reading and editing, I tend to write, because that’s what I KNOW gets the job done. But the fantastic goes posts we’ve had in the past few weeks are adding so much to the blog and the discussion, and I’ve realized I love that part of the job too. It’s just that when I’m bouncing around a research study here and a great Times article there, I keep too busy writing to read. I’m working on it.

Last week I knew exactly what was coming up on Motherlode—this week, it’s all open. I’m planning to write about the dumb, pricey things we buy when we’re first time moms (hello, Muzzy Spanish DVD set!). And maybe this will be the week I finally pull together the work I’ve been doing on raising “imperfect” kids, or (less likely) on chemicals and their impact. Guest posts? So many possibilities, I can’t even give you a preview. I’ve planned out my workouts, but not my work week! Yeah, but that I KNOW I’ll get done.

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Behind the Scenes at Motherlode, 3/4

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 | Connecting the Dots, Motherlode | 4 Comments

Seriously, what was I thinking?

Ah, Sunday. The week always looks so CLEAN on Sunday! SO much time! So much glorious room to fill in the blog, so many great guest posts that I will so easily get to…

I probably shouldn’t hold my breath, time being the slippery beast it is… Tomorrow I’ll be posting about a really interesting survey about exactly that. I interviewed Kristin van Ogtrop (whose book I love) about an upcoming story of their about women and time, and it offered a few surprises that I can’t wait to riff on–not to mention the pleasure of talking to her, and to Amanda Schumacher, her lively and fun communications director.

I also know I’ll be writing about teacher ratings tomorrow, thanks to a pair of “bad teacher” articles, and interviewing a few experts on lead in our homes and how it impacts our children, and unborn children–and how the CDC may be about to hang us all out to dry.

And that’s just tomorrow! I’ve got 10 unread gusts posts from writers I know will have rocked it, and 6 waiting for a final edit and the cue to go (think homeschooling and homework next week, unless events intervene). I’ve got three unpublished reported topics I haven’t even embarked on–what’s the dumbest thing you ever bought as a new mom? Giving kids the gift of imperfection and–dang, something else! Plus I’m deep into the question of toxic chemicals and kids, and pondering lunch boxes and a million other things.

I love it when someone asks me how I “think of so much to write about.” It’s more like waking up every morning, sitting down at my desk, and being pelted with great topics like so many Angry Birds. It’s family–there’s nothing more important, and there’s an endless array of exciting stuff going on.

On another note entirely, someone using my credit card seems to have gone on quite the online shopping binge. Fortunately, she had it all sent here, and she had fantastic taste–but she seems to have been a little confused as to whose life we are living. See the shoes, pictured above–ideal for dirt roads and mud season, no? You should see the silk blouse she picked out. I love it. I can’t imagine where I’d wear it. It’s a good thing she got a couple of tshirts, too—and shops where return shipping is free.

I think maybe I need to limit my late-night reading of Vogue, particularly when I am feeling just a touch anxious about myself.

Oh–BIG announcement at Motherlode this week. Well, cool announcement, anyway. Hint: beloved author, me, conversations…

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Stepping in for Lisa Belkin at the New York Times’ Motherlode Blog: Because I’m Good Enough, I’m Cool Enough, and Gosh-Darnit, People Like Me!

Saturday, October 8th, 2011 | The Open Vein | 9 Comments

Should I play it cool and tell you that of course I’ve been asked to take the first week in what will probably be a rotation of writers filling in for Lisa Belkin at the New York Times‘ Motherlode blog?

Should I say that after all, I do already cover parenting, culture and policy issues for Slate‘s XXFactor blog—already a position to be proud of, with a rightly respected publication?

Should I tell you that the Times won’t find anyone better, and pull on my high-heeled black cowboy boots, made for demonstrating that I am taller and tougher and cooler than anyone else out there, turn on a heel, flip my hair and walk casually away? (I’m not sure how I’d do that on online. Maybe it could be done on Tumblr, but WordPress is kind of old school. You can tell, because it has all of its vowels.)

I can’t. I’m too busy giggling gleefully and jumping up and down. I get to be the first to cover the Motherlode blog, now that Lisa Belkin is off to work her magic at the Huffington Post. I get to stomp right up to my usual office (I do think I will wear my boots) and write columns–8-10 of them–that will run in the Motherlode space she’s cultivated so well. I get to try on the mantle of my favorite parenting blog–the parenting blog that isn’t just a parenting blog, the one with some of the best commenters ever, the blog that lets the parenting conversation that we’re all interested in keep a certain spark of intellect while still getting right in there with breastfeeding, circumcision, working and parenting, exhaustion, college applications, sports try-outs, open house night, and all the other so-called minutia that really surround what most of us consider in equally important (and sometimes more important) sphere of our lives.

I’m revved.

And I’ve just read 67 comments mourning Lisa’s departure (if it weren’t for this development, I’d have made it 68—I love reading Lisa). It will never be the same, they declare. Our guide to the questions we hadn’t even thought to ask is gone. Reset the RSS feed, change the bookmarks–what could make Motherlode still worth reading?

Well, me. And them–if they stay. (Please stay!)

Lisa’s are big boots to fill. (Not that her feet are anything but a very ladylike size eight-and-a-half, I’m sure.) She brings smart, wry thought to topics ranging from autism to zoo therapy, and it’s thought that invites the reader to think, too. To think and respond and respond again. I think me and my black boots can do that too. I don’t have the last word on whether we, as adoptive parents, should search for our children’s birth parents before they’re old enough to search themselves, on how to improve school lunches, on what chores kids can and should do around the house or even which giant, inevitably gas-guzzling 8-passenger vehicle I should buy next to shepherd my family up our rutted dirt road (all topics I’m considering for next week, along with whatever news the week brings). I have ideas. I have doubts. I have words. I have blogging, bonding, blending and bitching, just like it says in my subhead. I hope to mix those things together into a Motherlode that’s both what it was before, and then some, next week at least. (Who are we kidding? I hope they hire me to make that potent mix for years.)

And I hope everybody I know comes with me. Because honestly, I’m nervous. Revved and nervous. If I have to face all those people who just want Lisa back all by myself, I’m not sure how much my boots are gonna help!

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