Monthly Archives: April 2008

Spring cleaning

I like to have the TV on in the morning while I get ready. Lately, I’ve been watching reruns of Clean House, which is not the best program of its type, but is still interesting to watch. It’s the downmarket version (more mugging, more manufactured drama) of the now defunct Clean Sweep (more organizational tips, more information).

Recently a friend recommended a book by Peter Walsh (the organizer from Clean Sweep) called It’s All Too Much. While it has less of the tips than I thought it would, it was still an interesting read and it’s inspired me to start going through the house with a more critical eye. Now I’m not a slob and my house is not messy like the houses of the people who go on these shows, but I still have too much stuff. I don’t really like that feeling. I like things to be neat and tidy and orderly. So it’s prompted me to do some reorganizing.

One of his suggestions is to take two bags–one for trash and one for donations–and just go through your house and fill them. While I’m happy to say that most of what I own is in good condition, I have filled a bag twice now with items for donations. It’s a little scary how many dvds and books I own. Now I read my books. I read and reread, but there are still items on my shelves that I don’t like or have yet to have read.

I think what happens is that after awhile you can’t really see the trees for the forest. You don’t see individual titles–just the shelves with the items. So I have been looking at each book and dvd individually and weeding.

I must say it’s a good feeling when your books and media have room to breathe.

Pasta and my new go-to dessert

So I had the family over for my mother’s extremely belated birthday dinner. Per her request I made homemade pasta, which is not all that hard.

Fresh Pasta

3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

Put the sifted flour and salt in the food processor and gradually add one egg at a time. Add the olive oil and water, and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cut the dough into four quarters which will make it easier to work with. Take one quarter and using flour to make it more pliable run it through the pasta machine until the dough is somewhat translucent and almost like a really soft piece of leather. Then use whatever die on the machine to form the pasta you want (mine only does spaghetti and linguine).

(If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can still do this. Roll out the dough by hand. You are still looking for the same qualities you’d get above. When you’re happy with the thickness, roll up the dough as you would a jellyroll. Slice into whatever thickness you want. Unroll and you have pasta!)

Cook in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes.

I served this with Giada DeLaurentiis’ Basic Marinara sauce and some sauteed zucchini and garlic, along with a salad.

But, reader, the dessert! A friend recommended making a pavlova, which involves a meringue shell that is then filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It is named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina. Apparently it was created and served in her honor in New Zealand.

So here’s the recipe I used (I have got to get my hands on the Silver Palate Cookbook from whence this came).

The meringue came together quite well and I had high hopes when it came out of the oven.

Pavlova shell
Pavlova shell  from the oven

Getting it out of the springform pan was more of a task. I will be more liberal with the butter on the inside of the pan next time.

Pavlova unsprung

I’m afraid I’m not much of a decorator when it comes to desserts, but no one seemed to mind.

the Pavlova!

Everyone had seconds and thirds! So this one is a keeper.