You might think he's doing something else. But in reality, he's learning how to sit/stay, and not doing a very good job of it (he eventually learned how to do so beautifully ... sort of ).

sabato 29 maggio 2010

Memorial Day, Pasta Salad

This weekend officially jump starts the summer in the United States. We’re all celebrating Memorial Day, which used to be called Decoration Day, first observed in Waterloo, New York, on May 5, 1866. According to Wikipedia, it was renamed Memorial Day in 1882, but the usage becomes common only after World War II.

It was started to commemorate dead Yankee and Confederate soldiers. Now it mostly means a long weekend, white clothes can once again be worn (this appears to be an old East Coast thing), and time to whip out the barbeque grill.

Which we’ll do, since it’s also Waldo’s official birthday the day before. It’s unclear when he was born; his mother’s people said sometime at the end of May or the beginning of June (his sister Zoe celebrates hers in June). We decided to make his the 30th of May, as it’s a date shared with SiouxZ, a treasured friend who turns 50 tomorrow. Auguri.

We’re having burgers, a birthday tradition established with Tillie. In this case, shu mai burgers, just published in Wednesday’s New York Times Dining section courtesy of the always-gives-good recipes Mark Bittman. The Stooges will have theirs without a roll; bipeds with. We’re serving it with a salad from our garden, and pasta salad.

Italians think pasta salad is weird. When the weather heats up, they’ll eat cold rice, they’ll eat cold farro, they’ll eat cold potatoes in the form of insalata russa (and that usually as a condiment on a sandwich, imagine), but they don’t much eat cold pasta.

Some of us of a certain age might remember our mother’s macaroni salad (which was basically the only pasta shape we ate in those days, skipping, of course, spaghetti with meatballs). We begin to find recipes for macaroni salad in U.S. cookbooks at the beginning of the 20th century; a 1916 recipe calls for ½ pound (or 58 sticks! Someone actually counted them out) of macaroni, which is cooked and tossed with horseradish, a bit of sugar and salt, and whipped cream.[1] My mother’s is a variation on that theme; it also includes hard boiled eggs and pickles, and no horseradish. has 133 recipes for pasta salad, and those include funky things (to the 1916 palate) like cellophane noodles (do note their divine recipe for roast pork with cellophane noodles). The Silver Palate, that must-have of the ‘80s and still-must-have of the new millennium, lists several.[2] Il Cucchiao d’Argento, Italian classic, equivalent to the Joy of Cooking, has none.
Pasta Salad I

½ lb. fusilli
1 c. green olives, pitted and chopped
3 large handfuls arugula, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
½ lb. feta, soaked in water, drained, then mashed with a fork
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 large bunch basil
6 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the fusilli according to package instructions, drain, and run cold water over it to stop the cooking.

While the fusilli cooks, make the dressing: throw the large bunch of basil into a blender, add the olive oil, and whiz. If you’re using the garlic, toss that in, too.

Put the drained cold fusilli into a large mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients, pour over the basil oil, and toss to combine. Check for seasonings, and serve.

This comfortably serves 2 people and 3 dogs. It would be enough for four as part of a Memorial Day bbq.

Haiku del Giorno:
Waldo greets the day
Harry and Lulu follow
Where’s my tea and toast?

Happy Birthday, Sue Anne!
Bravo, Roy Halladay!
Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) r.i.p.

To the valiant soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, we salute you as we salute all those scarred by these wars. We also salute those still fighting and striving to give meaning to these deaths and wounds.

Executive Mansion
Washington, Nov 21, 1864
To Mrs Bixby, Boston, Mass
Dear Madam,
I have been shown in the files
of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant
General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of
four sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.
I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of
mine which should attempt to beguile you from the
grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain
from tendering you the consolation that may be found
in the thanks of the republic they died to save. I
pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish
of your bereavement and leave you only the cherished
memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride
that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice
upon the altar of freedom.
Yours very sincerely and respectfully
A. Lincoln

[1] See; they quote a 1916 cookbook called Salads, Sandwiches, and Chafing Dish Recipes, written by Marion Harris Neil (Philadelphia, 1916). Wondered what, exactly, a chafing dish is, and if anyone still uses them? Wondering about Yankee Doodle, and the inclusion of “macaroni,” wikipedia tells the following: As a term Doodle first appeared in the early seventeenth century,[4] and is thought to derive from the Low German dudel or dödel, meaning "fool" or "simpleton". The Macaroni wig was an extreme fashion in the 1770s and became contemporary slang for foppishness.[5] The implication of the verse was therefore probably that the Yankees were so unsophisticated that they thought simply sticking a feather in a cap would make them the height of fashion.” Gives whole new meaning to the appellation “Dude.” Or maybe not.
[2] In their first volume (1979), a stunning recipe for pasta (“of some interesting shape”) and seafood salad with basil; in Good Times (1984), swordfish and pecan and tortellini, in Basics (1989), a “New Wave” salad with green beans and tomatoes.

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