If you ever visit our lakehouse in the summer, you can be sure of a few things.
Salt & vinegar chips will be eaten with abandon. The house will be a mess from all the kids running indoors, then outdoors, then back inside, wet bathing suits strewn about, ice pop drips on the floor.
Although Saturdays are perfection, with no looming threat of a late afternoon road trip back to the city, Sundays are wonderful too. In some ways it’s like Groundhog Day, consistent in its ritual-like events and activities.
As often happens, I wake up to a toddler princess climbing into the bed next to me in bed, still in her costume from the night before.
My hair is in a tangled mess, and I make no attempt to comb it before heading downstairs to greet the day. Like Emma, I’m also wearing the same clothes from the night before, having collapsed into bed from exhaustion (or a few too many beers).
It’s often chilly in the mornings, so on top of the previous night’s clothes, I throw on my gigantic wool sweater vest that was woven from Chewbacca’s chest hair. Not kidding, I got it on Ebay.
Here’s what I’d look like if I wore it on a girls’ trip to Vegas.
I teach my kids that lying is not OK. Yet I do it here. Forgive me. The vest was not woven from his chest hair, but it does look like that, so I figured it was only a white lie.
Once downstairs, I crank the stereo. With the songs of Abba filling the air, I’m ready to bust out some solo dance moves. My kids whisper to each other that they hate Fernando. I tell them “we don’t use the word hate.” And then I flip them the bird. Of course I would never do that, but it does cross my mind because you don’t disrespect Abba like that.
I proceed to pour my coffee. The coffee is too weak for my taste, and I lodge a complaint with our resident coffee-making expert, Rodney, who responds matter-of-factly that he will never be able to satisfy my coffee needs.
I pop some Eggos into the toaster, not because I want to, but because I have just enough of a hangover to realize that I cannot, under these circumstances, be responsible for measuring anything.
“But there are organic brands out there!” you might tell me in a high-pitched panicky voice. And yes, I know they exist, and my kids refuse to eat them. And I don’t blame them, those things are like cardboard mixed with spelt flour and molded into a waffle shape. Not to be rude but [insert popular organic waffle brand’s name here], have you tried your product before? Maybe I’d eat them if I were the James Franco character in 127 Hours and had just clawed myself out of the hot canyons, starving and missing an arm. But even then…
The kids have dug the iPAD out of its hiding spot and are tugging on my Wookie vest, asking to watch Grease videos on YouTube. I happily oblige. They become transfixed by Olivia Newton John with her fluffy perm and black leather, giving me 10 minutes to drink my weak coffee in peace.
From there, the kids head outside to examine the ducks on the dock. They laugh as they feed them bread, and I laugh too, although I’m conscious of the ducks’ ability to poop their own body weight. So I stop laughing and start thinking about how far my garden hose can stretch…and of course, lunch.
Lunch is an easy meal on Sundays- something I’ve prepared ahead of time, like grilled vegetables for a salad, or a pasta sauce that can sit for a day or two in the fridge, aging gracefully.
The sauce I used this weekend was courtesy of my mum: artichokes tossed in the oven with olive oil, salt & pepper, and combined with sautéed onions, and lemon juice. On the day I served it, all I had to do was heat the sauce, cook some fettuccine, and throw it all together with a little of the pasta cooking water.
To pretend that I was in Crete, not in New Jersey with its idyllic sounds of teenagers on ATVs, I topped the pasta with some crumbled feta and green onions. In my view, the perfect endcap to a perfect weekend. And a day I’ll gladly repeat again next week.
(Credit for the insanely awesome Wookie photo goes to thezoom.com)
- 2 9-oz packages of frozen artichoke hearts (not thawed)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped onions
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
- 1 lb dried egg fettuccine
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled and divided
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place artichokes on a baking sheet, toss with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast, tossing occasionally until starting to crisp at the edges (anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes).
- Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add the lemon zest and artichokes, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. If your artichoke pieces are more than bite-sized, you can snip them into smaller chunks with poultry scissors. Takes about a minute or two, but the effort will be well worth it.
- Stir in the lemon juice, then remove from heat and transfer mixture to a container that will live happily in the fridge for the next day or so.
- When you’re ready to serve the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Remember to salt the water heavily as this is a light pasta and the noodles should be well-seasoned.
- Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and add to artichoke mixture along with 1/2 cup reserved water or enough to ensure a moist sauce consistency.
- Add half of the feta, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and toss to combine. Re-season if necessary with salt and top with the remaining feta and green onions.
- The sauce gets better with age, so feel free to leave in the fridge for a day or two before you use it.