As they circled back round past our home once again, we waved and hollered “good bye” and “drive safely” to them with all the fanfare as the first time. I watched as my 10-year old darted through beach grass and hopped over rocks trying to make it to the next driveway before they did. Trying to make the time with his beloved cousins last a little bit longer and then….my sister-in-law, my niece and my nephew were gone.
We had, of course, performed this same good-bye ritual, with the hugs, the waving, the blowing kisses, the circling around a few times, the week before when my sister and her little ones had left. After they had driven out of sight, my 5-year old had tapped me on the arm and said,”Mom?” When I turned to look at him and reply, “What?”, I could see that he was trying to keep his lower lip from quivering as he asked me, “When will we see them again?”
Once my sister-in-law’s car was out of sight, the 5 of us silently headed back toward the house that had moments ago been teeming with activity and now suddenly seemed very empty and quiet. Each of us, perhaps, a little wistful that the last of the vacations within summer vacation was drawing to a close.
Now, I would be lying if I didn’t come forth and say that sometimes, during the past couple of weeks with all of the cousins, the noise level and chaos grew to such heights that I couldn’t even hear myself think. And other times, like a good housewife right out of the 50’s, I would hear myself holler, “My nerves!” and then, proceed to pour myself
an old fashioned a nice, chilled glass of Pinot Gris. But…even with all of that said…I wouldn’t change the time spent with all of us together. And once it was over, a bit of emptiness seemed to settle over the house.
That first day of just the 5 of us, we each retreated to our own corner. Some reading, others listening to music, another dozing in front of the TV. Not sure what to do with the calm. But soon there came requests for walks to the ice cream store and bike riding along the paths. And the next day, we hauled ourselves down to the beach. My older two out in the ocean. My little guy quietly, but with great intensity, building sandcastles and me and my sweetie….simply sitting. Next to each other. And watching.
And in the evening, as I stirred the heavenly mixture of garlic, tomatoes and white wine for our shrimp pasta and hummed quietly to The Sea, I thought about how, even with the food, there was something comforting about the rhythms of my own family. Knowing our likes and our dislikes by heart. The schedule we needed to be on…or not. How much activity we needed or how much we could simply “be”. And even though I had been sad to say good-bye to the cousins, there was definitely something lovely, harmonious even, about simply being together….just the 5 of us.
(That is until the boys practically broke out into a fist fight over not just legos but lego heads…you know those teeny, tiny pieces that go on top of lego guys and of which we have at least a hundred, but apparently only one of those hundred would do….but hey….the calm was nice while it lasted.)
Shrimp Fresco with Angel Hair Pasta
Adapted from Flavors by Michael Northern
I have to reiterate how the aromas wafting from your stove while you are making this dish are so heavenly they will attract not only your family members but people off the streets. The original recipe called for crabmeat but since neither standing at the counter picking a pound of crabmeat or paying for already picked crab meat sounded appealing, I went with shrimp. Also, being the vegetable pusher that I am, I made this one time with double the spinach but I wouldn’t do that again. It was too much and overpowered the dish. And one final note, be careful not to overcook the cherry tomatoes otherwise you’re left with skin bits throughout the dish that some people will refuse to eat.
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c finely chopped garlic (about 8 cloves) Don’t skimp on this!
3/4 c dry white wine
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tbsp butter
4 c firmly packed baby spinach leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb angel hair or spaghettini pasta
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat for your pasta.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. With your wine already measured and sitting to the side, add the garlic to your pan and cook for about one minute, stirring constantly being careful that it doesn’t brown too quickly. After this time, immediately add your wine which will stop the garlic from browning further and cook for about 4 minutes or until the wine has released its alcohol and reduced by about half. Add the shrimp and saute for about 3 minutes or just until the shrimp starts to turn pink. Add your tomatoes and cook just until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes.
Reduce your heat to very low. Fold in the butter until incorporated about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 1 minute more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Next, add your pasta to your boiling water and cook according to the directions on the package usually only 3-4 minutes. Drain and then return the pasta to your pot.
Add about half of your tomato mixture to your pasta. Stir to coat evenly. Then, dish up your pasta into shallow bowls. Top with more of your tomato/shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with chopped basil and parmesan cheese. Eat. And enjoy.
Yield: About 6-10 servings depending on whether you have just adults or a mixture of children and adults.
All original text and photographs copyright: Carrie Minns 2009-2010