Monday, March 19, 2007


Although it has, horribly, a Screw Top (Pretty Lady was Not Paying Attention, in the wine shop) this bottle of Fish Eye 2004 Shiraz is Not Half Bad.

Which is why Pretty Lady is giving you, free of charge, her cherished, superevolved recipe for Pasta Marinara.

1 can organic tomato puree
1/2 can filtered water
5 large cloves garlic, pressed
grated rind or juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T dried basil, or 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
1 T oregano
3 dried red chili peppers
dash fennel seed
5 fresh scallions, chopped
3-5 fresh plum tomatoes, chopped
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Mix in large stew pot and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. Add some or all:

Italian sausage, in chunks
Mushrooms, sauteed
Eggplant--salted, sweated, brushed with olive oil and grilled over a flame (this can be done over a naked gas burner. Turn on the exhaust fan to avoid setting off fire alarm.)
Artichoke hearts
Black olives

At the end of cooking, add 1/2 glass red wine. Serve over linguini; parmesan or romano cheese optional.

This recipe, Pretty Lady will have you know, has evolved over literally decades of epicurean poverty, and is now, possibly, at its peak of perfection. Treat it respectfully.


Anonymous said...

It's been conclusively proven that the screw top does a better job of protecting the wine from air and is equal to cork in every way when it comes to preserving the wine. Cork is traditional and that's that. Screw tops are very inexpensive and help cut costs in cheap wine. That's going to change. Cork is becoming very difficult to procure and plastics "corks" are very common. Screw tops won't be far behind.

Desert Cat said...


Chris Rywalt said...

Seconding EN, I read somewhere once a winemaker saying that the wine industry really wishes it could get rid of corks. They're relatively expensive and they cause all kinds of problems, like drying out and turning the wine bad, or rotting out. But every time someone tries to convince people that wine without corks is just as good as wine with corks, they fail miserably.

Witness the Box O' Wine, which friends assure me is not bad. Or anyway not as bad as you'd expect from a Box O' Wine.

thimscool said...

Once you polish off the whole box, you'll think it was great!

Anonymous said...

1 T?

I'm a new cook type bungler, so 1 T can mean 1 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon, 1 truck load, or even 1 Mr. T, complete with gold baggage.

I am trying it out, and assuming 1 T is 1 teaspoon.


little "t" = teaspoon?
Big "T" = tablespoon?

Pretty Lady said...

Big T=Tablespoon.

Pretty Lady doesn't muck around with namby-pamby spices. It's all about Commitment.

Desert Cat said...

bobert, didn't you take home ec in high school?

k said...

One more example of how my marginally higher age (48) vs. many other bloggers lead to a world of difference in certain social experiences.

When I first entered high school, girls were not allowed to take shop (Industrial Arts) or drafting, and boys were not allowed to take home ec.

Then, in a year or two, girls had to take shop - and boys could take home ec, if they wanted.

They had us do different projects from the boys though, and isolated us in a separate corner of the room. We were supposed to take a piece of wood and sand it until it magically turned into an official Cutting Board. There was zero actual teaching involved. Zero.

I had envisioned someone explaining things like Righty Tighty/Lefty Loosie, the difference between slot and Phillips Head screwdrivers, when to screw vs. when to use nails, what are the various wrenches, how and when to use them, how to cut the piece of wood in the first place (the pieces were just handed out to the girls, pre-cut by some invisible and mysterious process), how to choose the right sandpapers (again, handed out without any explanation), when and how to stain wood, oh on and on...

I had been so happy we were going to finally learn something. I was so very disappointed. I felt like they were making fun of us.

Because they were. Sometimes they didn't even bother hiding it. Or hiding their fury and hatred at our intrusion.

I love to cook. But I absolutely DETESTED Home Ec. Most of it revolved around teaching us to be servile and submissive to some future husband, rather than truly running a household. Running a household is a very important skill for every one of us.

To me, to love a man is not possible under those servile and submissive roles. My man is my peer. He has no more right to control me than I have to control him. Don't get me wrong here: I want to treat him like a king. But he must deserve it, and he must treat me like a queen. And I must make sure to deserve that, too.

I ended up, over the years, teaching myself bricklaying out of books. On all the other *guy stuff* things, I learned as best I could from reading, from people around me, and by experimenting. Unfortunately, except for the masonry work, my attempts at self-education have largely fallen short. I'm quite skilled at some things, but there are so many gaps and unanswered questions still.

Walter is a wonderful help, even though - as he is the first to tell us - he is not a good teacher. He is, however, logical and well taught himself, and sees no sense at all in those forced stereotypical roles.

Still, there's enough of the European in him still to have needed some...adjustment to me.

That, luckily, went very well.

Now...Your recipe looks ever so similar to mine! Except, since my major food group is Onions and Garlic, I must add a very large quantity of onion, and I usually translate *cloves* of garlic into *whole heads*.

Hmmm. I see a nice pan of lasagne in my future...

Chris Rywalt said...

namby-pamby spices

I suspect most Italians would be quite surprised by the chile peppers.

Chris Rywalt said...

When I went to school, we didn't have Home Ec any more. I did have wood shop and metal shop, though, along with girls. And photography.

My father was an auto mechanic (he retired) and all-around handy guy. He does carpentry, plumbing, cars, whatever. Somehow or other -- maybe because I actively avoided it -- this knowledge didn't transfer to me.

I had to teach myself all the girl stuff, like cooking. I've been thinking for years of putting together an online cookbook with my recipes and techniques. I even have a title: If You're Feeling Ambitious.

But then Alton Brown is so much more knowledgeable than I am.

thimscool said...

"I suspect most Italians would be quite surprised by the chile peppers."

Apparently, PL likes it a little arabiata.

Anyway, if you don't dice them they just add some interest.

Pretty Lady said...

When Pretty Lady went to school, we didn't have shop, or Home Ec, or Art, or Music, because those were classes for the dumb kids at the public schools. Pretty Lady's electives were Latin III, Spanish V, Calculus, and Advanced Chemistry; Physiology, Biology, Physics and Elementary Analysis were mandatory.

She skipped Advanced Biology, though.

As far as cooking goes, at the age of five, Pretty Lady had a full-blown panic attack when she realized that some day, she would grow up and get married, and she didn't know how to cook, yet. Her Mommy saved the day, by starting her course of instruction Right Then. We began with gingersnaps.

At this point, Pretty Lady has attained Basic Competence in the kitchen. Shop was another matter; she had to go to Jerry and get some private instruction in the wood shop, and obtained similar tutorial assistance from David Deming when it came to welding. Her metalworking skills are still a bit klunky.

It was only many years later that she discovered that David Deming, in the 1970's, used to forbid females his welding class. By the time she came around, the Art Establishment had changed to such a degree that he was grateful to her for showing an interest.

Pretty Lady said...

Once a person has lived south of the Tropic of Capricorn, my dears, chili peppers are a necessary ingredient at every meal, just like salt.

k said...

I believe I might have enjoyed the hell out of your school, Pretty Lady. They never knew quite what to do with me. I was terribly maladjusted socially, and this didn't change whether I was in public school or in the Special Place for the gifted kids.

Unfortunately, my parents were inclined to want to believe in the value of public schools. So I ended up back in the idiot place, bored to tears, loading up on extra credits via independent study, to get the hell out of that horrible place as fast as humanly possible. And made it, just after my seventeenth birthday, one full year early.

It would have been one and a half years early. But I was missing this, and only this: one quarter credit of Gym.

Even though I was out of regular Phys Ed on doctor's advice because of my rheumatoid arthritis.

Meaning, I got my Gym credits by writing papers on sports of my choice. Chariot racing. Logrolling. Cockfighting. heh!

I told them I'd turn in five extra papers if they'd let me have that quarter credit so I could graduate at Christmas instead of in June. No go.

This was the same place that wouldn't allow us to take both biology and chemistry. No, we could only choose one of the two.

Leaving me chemistry challenged until I went to college eight years later.


I did Not Like School.

Welding, though...I hear from others that one either Has It or doesn't. Walter says he most certainly Doesn't and could never figure out why. His childhood friend Had It and Walter would watch, puzzled, as said friend expertly welded away, perfect and pretty joints that never even DREAMED of separating.

I try not to dwell on the losses that physical infirmities bring. The time lost to illness when I could have been learning some neat new thing, though, that's a hard one sometimes. Welding is one I miss.

I love to learn. In the extreme. It's just the institutionalized forms of most educational establishments that drive me crazy.

Lots of their members don't like me either. Others? Exactly the opposite. They'd get kind of scary about me.

No middle ground.


k said...

And your David Deming should be commended left, right, up and down.

He learned.

k said...

And hey guys! Where do you think Hot Italian Sausage comes from, anyway?

They know their chili peppers.

Pretty Lady said...

No, D.D. didn't learn, k, he was still just as chauvinistic as ever, he'd just learned to cloak it with other excuses. I had a forty-five minute argument with the bastard in the middle of the hallway on the last day of classes--but this is all water under the bridge, and nobody else has ever cared about my grade in Advanced Sculpture. It established my reputation as a Fighter, at any rate.

You probably wouldn't have liked the other students at my school, but you would have hit it off with most of the teachers. I am grateful that my parents believed in Good Education.

Desert Cat said...

Geez, and she even *welds*!

It was metal shop I skipped in order to take that cooking class in middle school. I have yet to make up the deficit.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
Pretty Lady's electives were Latin III, Spanish V, Calculus, and Advanced Chemistry; Physiology, Biology, Physics and Elementary Analysis were mandatory.

Calculus was an elective at your school? I had to take it. The elective I remember best was Biochemistry.

Of course, I went to Stuyvesant, which is only, like, the best high school on Earth. I miss it. I didn't get nearly as much out of it as I should have, being a callow youth.

k said...

Speaking of math...

PL, funny insight there. I always got along much better with teachers than students. In college it was particularly noticeable.

Chris, I'd give a lot to be able to say *I miss* any school.

DC! Was it worth it?

Desert Cat said...

Eh, I already knew how to cook. But the attention I got from the girls was priceless. :)

k said...

heh heh heh! Now THAT's using that gifted brain!

Heard today about a new study of gifted kids: we are much less social than *regular* kids, and have lower self-esteem.


Priorities, huh?

And: that today's gifted teens actually get stress reduction when they listen to heavy metal music.