If you can conquer pasta you can conquer anything

I have been majorly slacking on this initiative for a number of reasons – some good ones, some bad ones, but ultimately not interesting ones. So rather than writing a mea culpa about my blog negligence, I’m going to move onto bigger, better, more impressive things: I conquered homemade pasta.

Welcome to my home! Dinner will be served in approximately 4 hours.

I’ve made pasta a few times before to varying levels of success. It usually tastes good, but as with most kitchen endeavours of mine, the meal is served significantly later than planned and an egg almost makes it to the floor.

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The lighting in this photo is good because we took it at 10:30 p.m. and had to rely on candles. 

My most notable attempt was this past October when a good friend joined to make use of my recently acquired pasta machine. Together, we had picked out this amazing Winter Squash Carbonara, only with homemade noodles and added scallops. Go big or go home, as they say. We ate at 10:30 p.m.

Reflecting now, there are a lot of reasons this happened. I didn’t do any prep work (oops); I had never tried the recipe (my bad); I visited my parents out of town the night before (I’m sure I had a good reason); and I “forgot” to pick any ingredients until two hours before my friend was to arrive. In retrospect, it was a recipe for disaster – pun intended.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Recently, having recovered from our previous attempt, this same friend and I decided it was time to give it another go.

The plan was to walk home together this past Thursday, make some mojitos, then make the noodles and enjoy the start of a long weekend. I was excited, but with this friend joining me immediately after work, I knew I couldn’t make the same mistakes again.

I picked a recipe I had tried before: Linguine with Shrimp and Lemon Oil. I had made this for dinner last summer, and knew it would be a delicious. More importantly, I knew what was involved in making it and that it would be relatively straight forward to pull off with someone in the kitchen alongside me.

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The fruits of our labour – homemade pasta with lemon infused olive oil, parsley, scallops – and a side of bread and cheese.

I swapped the shrimp for scallops, knowing that peeling shrimp would add an unnecessary step to preparing dinner with a friend over. Perhaps most importantly, I made a written down list of what needed to be done and in what order to pull this dinner together. I also popped into the Bulk Barn and picked up semolina flour – known to be perfect for making pasta and picked a recipe that had “basic” in the title.

Small changes, big impacts

These things seem small – and they are. But they truly made a difference. My friend and I enjoyed our meal by 7:30, had most of the clean-up done by 8:30 and by 9 we were on my back stoop enjoying a beautiful summer Rose and a full tummy.

More importantly, I didn’t spend my time apologizing about how late we were eating, panicking about whether the food was going to turn out, or distractedly working away while ignoring my guest. And that, my friends, is progress.

Lessons learned this week

  • Plan ahead
  • Know your recipe
  • Make the extra effort to get the perfect ingredients (shout-out to the magic of semolina flour!)