Wednesday, February 8, 2012


3 a.m.

Dash is horizontal in my bed, dreaming, his feet walking up my face.

And I am brain-churning, teeth-grinding, eyes-wide-open awake.

I press Dash's toes to my lips and imagine, one by one, losing everyone that I love. A car crash, a murder, several kidnappings.

I shake my head from side to side to expel the tragedy fantasies and slide into a more typical middle-of-the-night worry list.

Did I place the battery back into the smoke detector? What's causing the dead animal smell in the attic? Warm cabbage salad with almonds, anchovy vinaigrette, and navel orange? Or bacon and pine nuts? Why did I have that third glass of wine? Did I lock the front door? Who the fuck am I?

6:45 a.m.

Bella hovers. Sighs. Stomps. Shakes my shoulders. Pulls back the comforter. She shrieks, "We're going to be late for school and I hate being late."

"Bella. Please. CHILL. Just five more minutes."

Dash yells from the kitchen, "Mama, don't be mean to Bella. I love her."

Crash. Breaking glass.

Now I'm up.

Bella watches as I pull on yesterday's jeggings, white t-shirt, grey cardigan, and boots.

"Mama. You wore that yesterday. And your pants are so tight."

Dash enters the bedroom. "Mama. Why are you wearing your bathrobe?"

"Dash. This is a sweater. Can't you see that?"

"You need your coffee. It makes you stronger and nicer."

Bella yanks my t-shirt down to cover my belly and then takes a brush to my hair. "You would look so pretty with your hair in a high ponytail."

"I don't like to feel like a cheerleader."

Two sips of coffee.

And I fly.

Zit covered. Dog walked. Sharing toy found. Pork thrown into slow cooker. Field trip waiver signed. Six and seven "times tables" practiced.

8 a.m.

No time to sweep up the broken glass. Milk is left out. Compost never makes it to the curb. Teeth aren't brushed.

We speed to school, avoiding small children and dogs, blasting music, chewing mint gum.

"Daddy comes home Saturday."


"Dash. Bella. I'm so sick of Adele."

"Me too," says Dash. "I prefer Mozart. And Handel is nice too."

Bella looks disgusted and pushes her face further into her book.

"What? Dash? HANDEL? Where did you come from?

"From you, mama. I came out from behind your legs."

Bella would jump out of the car if we weren't moving so fast.

"Okay, lovelies. What's for dinner tonight?"

We decide on spaghetti carbonara with bacon (for Bella), Marcona almonds (for Dash), parsley, garlic, thick balsamic (for me), and three different cheeses.

6:45 p.m.

Broken glass swept up. Maya Angelou poem recited. French dictation practiced. Anchovies pestled. Nuts bashed. Garlic and shallots softened. Wine poured. Pitcher of pasta water reserved. Parsley chopped. Dog tranquilized. Another glass broken.

Pasta tossed, topped, drizzled.

Eat. Clean. Read. Snuggle. One kid down. Threaten to take away all playdates and sleepovers for the next year. Another kid down. 

10 p.m. 

Pour third glass of wine. Write. Fall asleep in bath. Drag ass to bed. Wish for my husband's hand, to encompass the crown of my head, to gently press me into sleep. 


printable recipe
Serves 3
This is a very forgiving recipe. Play. Cream or no cream. Or half and half. Or chicken stock. Skip the egg. Replace parsley with chives. Skip bacon. Use any hard cheese. Whatever.

6 slices bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped or microplaned
1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar
4 anchovy fillets
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
1 egg
juice/zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup chopped flat parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream
1.5 cups grated cheese (any combination of parmesan, pecorino, romano, piave)
salt for pasta water
1 pound dry pasta
for toppings: olive oil, balsamic (thick if you have it), salt, pepper, chopped parsley

Put on a big pot of water to boil pasta.

In a medium-sized cast iron or nonstick pan, fry up the bacon to your liking. Remove cooked bacon and place on paper towel. Pour out most of the bacon fat and reserve for other uses. Turn pan to medium heat. Add olive oil. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add vinegar and cook for 30 seconds. Turn off heat and set aside.

Bash anchovies with a mortar and pestle. Add almonds and bash until almost a paste but not quite.

In a large bowl (in which you will serve the pasta) add almond/anchovy mixture, egg. lemon juice/zest, parsley, cream, 1 cup of the cheese, salt, pepper, and cooked shallots/garlic. Whisk together.

Once the pasta water is boiling. add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add pasta. Before pouring pasta into a colander, scoop out and reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water. Cook pasta until al dente.

Add cooked and drained pasta to almond, anchovy, lemon juice/zest, parsley, cream, shallots, garlic mixture. Pour in 1/4 cup pasta water. Use tongs to combine. Taste. Add more pasta water, cheese, salt, and pepper as needed. Taste again.

Serve with toppings on the table: crumbled bacon, pasta water, parsley, parmesan, salt, pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.


  1. I don't even know where to start with this one... every line is so rich with truth, resonance, candor, and plainspoken yet poetic reflection. I'll stop now before I embarrass us both.

    Whatever indeed.

  2. Brilliant! I have all the ingredients in my kitchen and will make tonight for ollie and myself. Noah gets back friday eve. Single parenting makes me crazy tired.
    Loved your post and children's commentary.

  3. I totally do the tragic fantasy thing when I can't fall asleep! Its awful!! I usually resort to reading to get the thoughts out of my head. I love the pictures at the bottom, awesome boots!!

  4. Sigh. Also awaiting husband return this week. I do not wish to deal with broken glasses, however, hence you will find me at Saul's tonight with my posse.

  5. I ditto everything Cheryl said. Every word of this post speaks to's as if you're translating a typical day in my life. The days are all crazy, aren't they? But the ones when my husband is traveling are especially long.
    I get so much more than just recipes when reading your blog. Thank you.
    [and that carbonara sounds fantastic too]

  6. Love the "why are you wearing your bathrobe?" Kids are the best. Hilarious. I, too, get that terrible insomnia... and some of that teeth grinding. Oy.

  7. Leave your husband. Marry me (and my wife, she approves).

  8. Your writing is crazy good.

  9. Phyllis, once again I felt like I was right there with you Dash and Bella. I keep thinking about the bathrobe comment.... I have quite a few sweaters that fall into that category:) Great post and the pasta sounds so yummy. Maybe my lunch today!

  10. Funny, yummy and true.
    Thank you,

  11. looks yummy, love the way pasta tossed cook and eat:)

  12. Oh, sweetheart, this is so beautiful.
    My eldest girl mothers me in much the same way and I am at turns resentful and humbled by it. You craft your words so accessibly and beautifully...

  13. I am so in love with your posts. Love love love. Deep.

  14. The writing may be beautiful, but dishes have actual definitions. While this may be lovely, this is Not carbonara, by any means. The idea that you could skip the egg in a carbonara clearly shows you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. There is no cream in carbonara, it breaks the egg coat and ruins the texture. There is no bacon in carbonara, the smoking involved overwhelms the delicacy of this classic. There are no anchovies, almonds, and certainly no vinegar. Carbonara is Only a dish made of guanciale or pancetta, eggs, butter and parmesan, or it was until the Old Spaghetti Factory got to it. We can have a debate about parsley and garlic, but this is just alfredo, or scrambled eggs. Please call it what it is, if anything just out of respect for the ingredients, the dish, and nutritional anthropology.

    Also, don't add your cheese and vinegar with your eggs, it promotes curdling. This is a rude reply, I know, but if you're making a blog about food, please take the food somewhat seriously.

  15. Dear Anonymous,
    Get a life, please.

  16. Anonymous...anyone who posts anything anonymously is a coward and a loser. What's your problem? Meet me in the quad after Biology and I'll show you how to curdle butter.

  17. i get these tragedy fantasies too! i stop watching all those kind of movies, those that involve hurting someone's child to alien abduction of children and end of the world (zombie movies too)...

  18. This "Anonymous" person is awful! Please! Go away, Anonymous! What a terrible know-it-all -- the last thing any of us want to encounter on this wonderful blog.

  19. and can I just add to "Anonymous" -- if you have the time to sit around and nit pick on other people's blogs, why don't you go out and do something useful and helpful, where you might actually make the world a better place or contribute something worthwhile? Sheesh...

  20. i have a posse! damn.

    the comments from the past few posts have left me speechless. and teary at times. i am so grateful. i read every comment. i breathe them in. they keep me going. thank you.

  21. Anon,,

    really??? I am with Rick but can we do it after 5th period?


    your posts are wonderful. I love to read your blog. I don't have much time to cook these days but your pictures are beautiful and your life is real.

  22. Girl....been there, now I'm a gramma. Sometimes it's that wine that keeps me awake! You're a great Mom, cook and writer. Keep the faith, you'll look back on these days and wonder how you did it all!
    I think that negative poster could have been a bit more respectful in "correcting" your recipe.

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  24. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You've made my day! Thank you again
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  25. Just discovered your blog and of course I'm loving it. You have a wonderful 'voice' and the pasta is just the kind of thing I love, full of strong flavors and textures and quick and easy to throw together. Great post, I can't wait for more!

  26. I just found your blog by way of honey & jam. While I don't have a dash or a bella, I found myself laughing along (and relating) to your post. Great stuff.

    I say life's too short. Give the jeggings an encore. And drink that third glass of wine.

  27. I don't have kids, but I feel like I transported into your shoes as a mother as I read your post. Beautiful. Moving. Real. Thank you for sharing.

  28. I just discovered your blog today. Major love!! So many recipes to try, I don't know where to start. Your writing is spot-on, too.