Cooking therapy

Oh right, I’m supposed to write something today. I tried writing something this morning but decided to reward myself with not forcing myself to write my post before noon rolled around. Since noon I have walked a fair distance to a grocery store, listened to music (as usual) and cooked. Which brings me to my point today.

As was probably abundantly clear, last week was not emotionally a good week for me. I spent the week not seeing anybody or doing much of anything, and it frustrated me. I’ve been desperately hoping that I’ll soon be able to move onto doing something that will occupy a bit more of my time this summer lest I go absolutely crazy. Aside from one day last week I tried to ignore my unhappiness as long as I could by talking about anything but that, with the help of a fictional story and a summary of the Rob Ford controversy.

Today, I felt that unhappiness rearing its ugly head yet again, so I decided enough is enough and looked for a new recipe to cook for dinner tonight. I tend to make a lot of pasta-related dishes, perhaps because they’re usually so easy, so it probably won’t surprise you to hear that my new dish was, you guessed it, a pasta dish.

To give a completely honest appraisal of my own cooking skills, I don’t think I’m fantastic at it, but nothing I’ve made so far has ever been gross or inedible. I make the occasional cooking error (usually forgetting to spray a pan/dish with cooking spray) but usually everything works out pretty well.

I’ve managed to find a few pretty good recipes out of a book called the The Really Useful Ultimate Student Cookbook by Silvana Franco (ISBN 9781741960242) which I don’t think is even in print anymore. It’s a bit of a shame, as the book has a very well-organized index that ends with a list of all the books’s vegetarian dishes.

From the book’s recipes, the big hit with my family has been spaghetti marinara. It features spaghetti noodles (obviously) with a sauce made from diced tomatoes and their juice, basil, onion, garlic, black olives and capers. It’s a great alternative to the spaghetti that my dad or mom used to make quite often, which would be canned pasta sauce over ground beef or ground turkey over the spaghetti.

Today’s recipe I made has what was certainly the fanciest name of anything I’ve cooked so far: farfalle Florentina. Farfalle is “bowtie pasta” and the second part of the name just tells you where the recipe comes from: Florence, Italy.

I don’t mean to boast in saying that this is the most delicious recipe I’ve cooked so far. I write the previous not in the sense of “Look how great of a cook I am!” but rather in the sense of “The flavour is fantastic thanks to the varied ingredients.” According to the recipe book, recipes that come from Florence are likely to involve spinach and some sort of cheese. This recipe involves both, and it made me wonder why I don’t eat spinach way more often. It’s absolutely delicious.

When I’m cooking, even if I run into difficulties, it feels, very briefly, like I’m the captain of a ship. I am in total command of the kitchen, only (to ruin my ship-captain analogy) I have to also run all the tasks myself. Boiling pasta, chopping vegetables, sautéeing, all of that is my job and my job alone.

Plus, nothing really beats the smells of cooking fresh vegetables and pasta as opposed to throwing something frozen in the oven or the microwave. It feels great to be in charge of a saucepan, doing things like making sure your food of choice doesn’t burn or get too watery.

And of course nothing is better than seeing what the end result of your labour is. I had meant to take a picture of the farfalle Florentina when it came out of the oven, but my phone was charging and it didn’t seem worth it to grab a digital camera. So you’ll have to imagine it looking pretty good: picture a casserole dish filled with bowtie-shaped pasta, mixed in with melted cheese, spinach leaves and diced tomatoes.

I’ve just made myself hungry even though I just ate.

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