Night Three: Penne alla vodka

For a few moments there, I was thinking of renaming this blog, “How can I fuck up dinner tonight?” But fear not, because it turns out that the taste of slightly scorched garlic isn’t that bad.

Tonight was supposed to be palaak tofu, but time constraints conspired against me. Laurel’s 18-month checkup was today and I stupidly scheduled it for the middle of the afternoon (effectively killing any productivity on either side of lunch). I had arranged for our sweet new babysitter (who was only available until 4:30) to come hang out with Laurel while I got dinner started, but I only had half an hour before the Cling-on appeared. I doublechecked the palaak tofu recipe and saw that it had to cook for 4 hours in the crockpot and the prep would probably be at least half an hour, so I punted and went with the penne alla vodka.

So, I quickly diced up the garlic and threw it in the skillet with the crushed red pepper and the olive oil, but I had the heat turned up too high and the garlic started to scorch a bit while I was opening the cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Everything went well otherwise, although my sauce came out looking a bit more … visceral and less creamy-beautiful like it does on picky cook’s site. I also had to cheat because I didn’t have 3/4 cup fresh parmesan, so I supplemented with grated or, as we call it in this house, “shakey cheese.”

The kids prefer naked noodles (Laurel just likes to put the penne on her fingers like you do with pitted olives at Thanksgiving), but I did give Harrison a dish of sauce for dipping and I saw him dip into it a bit. The parental verdict was positive: Matt said it tasted like his baked ziti and the most resonant note for me was the garlic, but it didn’t ruin it for me. I wanted it to be creamier, so next time I will make sure to have enough fresh parm on hand.

Since I was pressed for time, I wasn’t able to take a ton of photos, but I like this one:

And here’s a shot of one of last night’s tragic potatoes:

So, if I were to travel back in time and give Past Me some advice for this week, it would be this: Slow down, plan ahead, and remember that behind every supermom is a really fantastic babysitter and/or mother’s helper.

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