I write you from a distinctly uncool coffee shop. I'm people watching and admiring the faint outline of a sign that used to say OYSTERS.
I feel quiet.
I love it when you know that Life is Happening, and things are exciting.
Life is Happening is events: the party where you meet someone new, or a conversation that changes you, or a new job or move.
When Life is Happening it feels like the gears of a watch are clicking into place.
You can almost hear it.
I used to believe that the exciting, crazy "Life is Happening" moments, are when you become who you are, and know what you're about.
Now I think, that maybe those moments are just the product of the quiet, thoughtful days where nothing is really going on. The days when you're quietly and slowly figuring out how to make the dial of your watch click forward on your own.
I made this pasta with some of the people I love the most.
We had a round of toasts and then ate and laughed together.
I realized then, that maybe, becoming the person you want to be, can be as simple as eating the meal you want to eat, with the people you want to eat it with.
Maybe I'm all wrong.
But I swear, this pasta made me feel like all the gears in all my watches were clicking into place.
Peas and Shells Alfredo
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Yield: serves 2 generously or 4 petitely. (We made extra, so about a pound of pasta.)
Salt to taste
1/2 pound dried small pasta shells
1 cup fresh shelled peas (about 1 pound in the pod, but we used canned peas because we're lazy)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cooking according to package instructions. Add peas to cook during the last 30 seconds of pasta cooking time. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, and set aside. Drain the pasta and the peas together.
Dry out the pasta pot and pour in the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer, and cook it until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the butter, and stir it until it has melted. Generously season the sauce with freshly ground black pepper, add a pinch of salt as well as the lemon zest. Add 3/4 cup of the Parmesan, and stir it until the sauce is smooth, then toss in the drained pasta and peas. Cook the pasta in sauce for 2 minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened. Add the reserved pasta water by the spoonful if needed to loosen the sauce.
Divide the pasta among bowls. Garnish with remaining Parmesan and the flat-leaf parsley.
Note: We also added the meat of one rotisserie chicken, mushrooms and some shredded spinach. For extra goodness.