Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Too Much Bacon? Oh, Clam Up!

Yesterday was one of those cook-from-the-pantry days.  It was gray and rainy, and I didn't want to go to the grocery store.  I almost always have pasta and cans of chopped clams in my pantry, so linguine with clam sauce seemed to fill the bill.  Clams are supposed to be high in protein, iron and other minerals, and B12.  They are also low in fat.  So what's the best way to take this healthy food and make it less healthy, but very, very tasty?  Bacon!  Ten slices of bacon!  It's a lot of bacon, but too much?  I'd say, just right.

Mmmm, bacon!

Bacon and clam sauce is a special, yummy treat at our house.  Even though I usually have the ingredients for this dish on hand (except for fresh parsley in the winter), I don't make it often because of all the bacon.  We LOVE bacon, but it's not exactly health food, is it?  How cool is it, though, that a special treat dish also happens to be one I can whip up when the fridge is kind of bare?  In addition to the bacon, garlic and cayenne pepper give this dish a lot of flavor.

Luckily there was still
parsley in the garden.
This recipe, with only slight modifications, comes from a great little soft cover cookbook called All the Best Pasta Sauces by Joie Warner.  My copy is from 1987, but you can still get the book on Amazon, lots of used copies available too.  It's a wonderful little book if you like pasta.

Crispy Bacon and Clam Linguine
Slightly adapted from All the Best Pasta Sauces by Joie Warner

10 slices bacon, preferably smoked
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 pound linguine
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (can omit if you don’t have fresh, or add a tablespoon dried parsley in last step of cooking)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 5-ounce cans chopped clams, drained, reserving 1/4 cup broth
Grated Parmesan cheese

Lots of clams, too, not just bacon.
Heat water for linguine.

Fry bacon in large skillet until crisp.  Remove bacon to paper-towel-lined plate.  Pour out bacon drippings, reserving 1/4 cup.  Return 1/4 cup bacon drippings to skillet.  Break bacon into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Begin cooking linguine.

Add olive oil to bacon drippings in skillet.  Heat over medium heat and add onion and garlic.  Cook about 3 minutes, until tender.  Add fresh parsley, cayenne, and black pepper, and cook about 2 minutes.  Stir in clams and broth (add dried parsley here if using).   Cook until heated through.  

Combine with hot pasta, top with bacon pieces and toss to combine.  Top with grated cheese if desired.

Serves four.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Target: "Anything You Can Do, We Can Do Cheaper"

After my latest trip down south, I've been feeling calm and in control.  Getting some work done, taking some walks (like the above view of the prairie park last Sunday morning), doing some errands.

One such errand was this morning.  I stopped by Target to pick up three birthday cards.  I milled around, decided to pick up some Diet Cokes and a couple of toys for Alfie.  Then THIS happened:

Get outta town!  Are you seeing what I'm seeing?  Woven yarn baskets?  I don't know whether to feel like I'm ahead of the curve for already having made numerous crocheted baskets myself or way behind the trend since Target has already reduced the price.  $15.99.  It's tough to buy the yarn that cheaply.  I'll confess: the air went out of my balloon a bit.  Just last week I was feeling accomplished and cool as I finished the daughter's requested set of nesting baskets. Now I see that they need to be moved to the clearance bin.  Sigh.

Nesting basket set, un-nested, but handmade.

Nesting basket set, nested.
See the wonky edge? Proof it's handmade.

In addition to finishing up the nesting baskets, I began crocheting a lace scarf with some of the Serenity Garden yarn I showed in my last post.  I'm using the Strawberry Lace pattern from the Crochet Noro book.  It's slow going and I'm not sure I love it, but I'll be able to tell better once it's finished and blocked.

Fall is arriving here in northern Illinois.  Beautiful cool weather and blue skies today.  Perfect.  We even had clear skies for that fabulous blood moon on Wednesday morning.  We couldn't see it at the house because of all the trees, but when we went for our walk around 5:45 (a little earlier than usual), the moon was in its glory.  We felt lucky to get to see it.

Colorful and healthy!

Fall also means the end of summer vegetables.  The husband stopped by a farm stand earlier this week, however, and loaded up on some beautiful zucchini and sweet peppers.  I roasted the lot with russet potatoes and chicken, all tossed in olive oil, garlic, and lots of fresh rosemary.  A feast!  I only have a before picture because we were too eager to eat to snap any shots after it came out of the oven.

So that's what I've been up to lately.  I hope early fall is colorful and peaceful at your house, too.  Just be very careful which aisles you walk down in Target.  Don't let your handcrafted balloon burst.