Yesterday was one of those days. When hubby arrived home from work, a little after half past seven, I was still busy ticking away at my laptop, totally absorbed in my own work, and with not even the slightest clue (or care) about what we should have for dinner. A situation like that usually means we’ll both hop in the car, head to the nearest shop and discuss what we’d like to eat on the way there.
Unfortunately (at least in my book), this is becoming a bit of a habit.
While I have no desire to be June Cleaver, I do wish that I would be disciplined enough to round off my work day just a little bit earlier so that I could get my butt to the shops and we could all eat at a decent hour — not 9:15 PM, as was the case yesterday.
I wonder, though, if it’s a lack of discipline or a bad case of wanting to cram as much into a day as possible. Honestly, I really do NOT know when to stop. And that, is not necessarily a good thing. In fact, it’s not a good thing at all; especially when I wake up in the middle of the night and realize that I haven’t gotten any rest because that darn brain of mine is still going at it!
Could it have something to do with being raised in the US? I was a hard working overachiever from the time I was in kindergarten, and by fourth grade I came home with a letter telling my parents they should enroll me at a school for ‘gifted’ children. Good grades weren’t enough. I needed excellent grades. If my name was not at the top of that ‘honor roll’, I was devastated. But I wasn’t alone. In that class, six other children received the same letter I did. My parents heeded the advice, and by fifth grade I was at a school for the ‘academically talented’. I still remember standing in front of my old school, waiting for that ‘special’ bus that would take me to that ‘special’ (read: even more demanding) school.
Things are somewhat different here in the Netherlands. I don’t think children are as concerned with ‘being the best’ or are raised by society to make sure they stick out above the rest. And I’m not just saying that. It is something I noticed during my time teaching at both elementary school and high school. If a child got a 6 on their report card (I think that’s a C in the US), that was perfectly OK. The focus is on passing, and not on perfection.
I do not intend to generalize, nor say which side of the coin is better. What I do know is that trying to do everything (and do it well) is extremely exhausting.
I realized that (yet again) yesterday as I was frantically trying to photograph my dinner. It was dark, I was hungry — scratch that, STARVING — and that camera just wasn’t cooperating. After the hundredth try, I whipped out my iPhone and took the picture you see in this blog.
Instagram (and social media in general) can often paint a picture of perfection. Beautiful dishes, beautiful people, beautiful lives. All as effortless as the wind blows. Not always the case.
And if you’re wondering, dinner was still delicious and worthy of sharing, despite the, in my eyes, less-than-perfect photo.
Pappardelle with Roasted Butternut Squash
- 800g peeled and chopped butternut squash
- 3 small red onions, cut into segments
- 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- torn sage leaves
- fleur de sel and freshly-cracked pepper
- mild olive oil
- 300g pappardelle
- 50ml cream
- 200g Gorgonzola, crumbled
- handful of arugula
- handful of chopped walnuts, plus more for serving
Preheat the oven to 200°C and put the squash, onions , garlic and sage on a roasting tray. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 35 minutes. Toward the end of the cooking time, bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the pappardelle al dente. Once the pasta is cooked, reserve 50ml of the cooking liquid, warm the cream in a large pan and stir in half of the cheese. Add the cooking liquid, pasta, roasted vegetables, the rest of the cheese, arugula and walnuts and stir carefully to combine. Garnish with a sprinkle of walnuts, sprinkle with some more pepper and serve.