I have always been a collector. My mom might say I have always been more a hoarder. Not that I am a hoarder, just that if I’m not careful I can have those tendencies. When my brother and I were younger and were instructed to clean our rooms I would carefully organize all of my possessions, all of my dolls and stuffed animals and little figurines, all of my books and knick-knacks, not wanting to throw anything away. Meanwhile, next door, my brother would be in his room clearing off his bookshelf, ready to give everything away in favor of clean space. My mother’s conversations with my brother would be along the lines of, “You can’t give away every book you own,” while with me it was, “Do you really need to keep this stack of American Girl magazines from two years ago?”
As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten much better about throwing away unnecessary things (and even better at just not collecting unnecessary things in the first place). I like to live in uncluttered space, and Gerrit can attest to the fact that sometimes, when we seem to have let the clutter collect for just a bit too long, papers on the kitchen table and books and shoes that haven’t been taken upstairs, I have been known to pause and say, in a forced voice of calm, “We have to clean this up right now. I cannot function anymore.”
But if there is one thing that I have never stopped and will not stop collecting, it is memories. And not just the memories I hold in my head, but the memories I write in my journals, and the keepsake boxes of childhood art and birthday cards, and my boxes of pictures that I add to at the end of every year. I am a sucker for all things sentimental: old videos and long-lost letters. Even scraps of paper with notes or lists have been known to live in my purse or car because they reminded me of a particular day and I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away just yet. I may be better about not collecting unnecessary items (except books, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to kick that habit), but attach sentimental meaning to it and I want it archived in a box to be kept forever.
One thing I have loved about having this blog it that is has turned into another collection of sorts, and a more practical one at that. It has become a collection of food and of the memories that go along with that food. It is sentimental, yes, but it has always proved useful. There have been so many times when, faced with the sudden need to throw together an unexpected dinner and a quick dessert, I have turned to my recipe page and scanned the archives, often finding exactly what I need (sometimes I recipe I haven’t made in a year, and I always wonder why I have waited so long).
And naturally, we keep adding to the collection here. There are new favorite meals and dishes that come and go with the seasons. And here we have another meal that will surely be kept in the regular rotation, a perfect quick pasta dish, onion and zucchini sauteed and the tossed together with pasta and a bit of cheese. It takes about as much time to put together as it takes the pasta to boil. Ten years from now will this be the kind of recipe I still turn to for a quick dinner? What else will I have discovered by then? Perhaps in five or ten years I will come back to this collection looking for a quick meal, and, having somehow unfortunately forgotten about this one, I will throw it together and wonder why I ever let it fall by the wayside. And, like my journals and pictures and books, I will be so glad I insisted on keeping a record of the things we ate.
Quick Zucchini Pasta
adapted from Extra Virgin
The measurements here are far from exact. Make it with as many (or as few) vegetables as you like, and as much cheese as you like.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
2-3 medium sized zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 red onion, sliced
1 lb. short pasta, like penne
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan
1. Bring a medium-sized pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Then drain the pasta and set aside.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saute pan, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add the zucchini and the onion and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is tender.
3. Add the pasta to the pan and top with several tablespoons of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan. Stir the pasta and vegetables together (add a bit of pasta water if everything seems too dry). Serve the pasta topped with a bit more cheese.