We are slowly slowly getting into the groove of our routine. Mornings are beginning to go a little more smoothly, there are less arguments over homework and reading time, and things are generally just regular, in the best possible way.
Of course it won’t last. But allow me to bask in the glory of ‘easy’ for the time being; Larson starts preschool next Thursday and we’ll have to start all over.
Here we are in September. My kids say the first day of school is really the end of summer, but it’s just not true. The sun is still strong and high, and Alistair has worn shorts to school every day so far.
Still, there’s a certain crispness to the morning air, and while I’m not ready for pumpkin spice anything*, I am willing to begin considering the comfort foods of autumn.
Yesterday I made pasta e fagioli (it’s my all-time favorite meal) and posted a photo of my dinner on Facebook, and a few people asked for the recipe. Which means that it probably should be posted here too. So here you go.
Pasta e Fagioli
4 tablespoons olive oil
diced pancetta – four slices if you have slices, or one package of the diced stuff they sell in the imported meats section of the grocery store
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, or a few shakes of dried rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme, or a few shakes of the dried stuff
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, or a few good scoops of the minced stuff in the jar
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans (or great northern beans if that’s all you can find), drained
2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 box ditalini pasta
salt and pepper
(Optional, but awesome: the heel of a piece of salty cheese – Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino. You only need an inch or so, but it makes all the difference)
for the table:
grated Parmesan, Romano, or Pecorino cheese
Italian or Scali bread
1. In a big pot over medium high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the pancetta.
2. Once the pancetta is brown and your kitchen smells like heaven, add the the herbs, vegetables and garlic. Add salt and pepper, and let it go for a few minutes, until the onions start to soften up.
3. Add the beans and the stock, and turn the heat up to high. (If you have the heel of cheese, put it in now.)
4. Once the soup is at a rapid boil, add the pasta. Cover the pot, lower the heat to medium, and let it go until the pasta is cooked – about 8 minutes or so. If you have used fresh herbs, pull the stems out (all the leaves have fallen off). If you had the cheese, pull that out now too.
5. Turn the heat off and let the pot sit for a few minutes before lading into bowls.
Boom – done.
* I am not a fan of the (artificial) flavor of pumpkin spice. Not in beer, not in coffee, not in muffins. I like pumpkin pie and pumpkin soup, and that’s about it.
School has begun for Alistair. Hard to believe he’s in third grade.
He was a little nervous in the morning, as kids often are. But he was all smiles at pickup. And having first-day frappes didn’t hurt his mood, either.
Larson begins preschool on the 25th, and he is having a hard time filling the days without his brother around…
I took a few days off last week to really soak up the last days of summer with the boys.
For Craft Tuesday the boys printed images onto iron-on paper and made their own tee shirts. Alistair’s image was black and white, so he used markers to color in the transfer paper. I didn’t expect it to work – but it did.
We went to the beach too.
On Saturday we played mini-golf.
On Sunday we had our annual tie-dye cookout at Larry’s brother’s house.
On Labor Day itself we all slept in, then went to an early movie.
Ran a 5k at the Stone Zoo Saturday evening; it was part road-race, part trail-race, but I managed to beat my own personal 5k record – by 14 seconds. Which doesn’t sound like all that much – it ISN’T all that much – but it’s so nice to see progress, you know?
Sunday morning we were up and out early, took a short drive through Southie to Castle Island.
It was a gloriously beautiful summer day.
We got there a couple of hours before the fort opened for visitors, and scrambled around the island happily until noon. Unfortunately, despite all web resources saying self-guided tours of the fort were available, we were disappointed to be told that visitors had to take a guided tour to gain entrance. I don’t know about you, but the notion of dragging my kids through a 45-minute tour led by a senior citizen was not appealing to Larry and me.
Craft Tuesday this week involved several phases spread out through the course of the day.
Step 1: Glue a bunch of popsicle sticks together to make four squares per kid. Let them loose until the glue is dry.
Step 2: Get a big piece of wax paper and let them color all over it, the darker/heavier the better. While they have at it, shave some broken crayons into little cups or bowls or piles, and once they’re done coloring let them sprinkle the shavings all over the paper.
Step 3: Cover the wax paper with another piece of wax paper, and iron them until the crayons melt (sealing the wax paper together). This is a grown-up job, and be sure to put newspaper under and on top of the wax paper, and maybe a kitchen towel atop it all for good measure. Let them do something else while the paper cools off.
Step 4: Cut the paper into square about the same size as the popsicle squares, and glue them onto each. Let the kids go something else while the glue dries.
Step 4: Once the glue is dry, trim the excess paper from outside the frames. I did this part with an Exacto knife, but maybe you’re better with scissors than I.
Step 5: Use tape to attach the squares together at the corners (if you tape the whole side, it will not fold into a cube. Ask me how I know).
Step 6: Send the kids on a scavenger hunt to find two battery-operated tealights that are still functional.
For last week’s Craft Tuesday, the boys decorated wooden tugboats we bought at the USS Constitution gift shop.
Yesterday we drove down to the Roger Williams Zoo. We were so busy looking at all the animals (it’s one of the largest zoos in New England, if not the largest), we didn’t take many photos. I did manage to get this group shot of Larry taking a group selfie, complete with the giraffes in the background.