A New Decade

Last month S and I were scanning the skyline of Manhattan while riding on the (highly recommended) East River ferry. She asked where the World Trade Center used to be. I pointed to the spot and showed her where the new building is going up. She said, "It's been 10 years." And, while over the past few weeks, it's been impossible to avoid the anniversary, at the time I hadn't yet realized it was approaching. As I remembered the fear and the loss, it suddenly hit me -- wait, that decade is over? I can move on? Thank God.

S was five and on her way to her second Tuesday of Kindergarten in Cobble Hill when we heard the first plane hit -- we both remember it vividly, wondering why it was thundering on such a blue and sunny morning. She spent the day in school. I spent the day with my friend Wendy, telling our life stories, watching a parade of people coming off the Brooklyn Bridge covered in ash, and catching papers falling from the sky. What follows is a personal reflection (in list form) of what's happened to me since. It has nothing to do with those events that changed the lives of so many. September 11, 2001 just happened to correspond with the beginning of the last year of my marriage and life as I knew it. And, for better or worse, it launched me to where I am today.

What I've been up to in the last decade:

1. 9/11/01 - Already drunk at 9 a.m., B was running late to work and I was able to call and stop him from trying to get his office at the Seaport. He spent the day on the couch and later kept trying to ride his bike into lower Manhattan to help all of the people who he thought he heard screaming out to him. The rest of the year was much of the same -- he lost his job and was in and out of consciousness not only on the couch, but at the bottom of closets, on the roof of our brownstone, and in the tunnels under Grand Central. Terrible and frightening every minute except for his few stints in rehab.

2. May 2002: I finally grabbed my kid and just walked out in the middle of the night.

3. August 2002: Found the job/school where I still work today and made it a second home.

4. [Insert tragic love story here.]

5. Then - now: Watched S go from 5 - 15 handling it beautifully and really badly (both of us) depending on the day.

6. Then - now: Tripled my income but never have enough (am not sure how that works, or rather, isn't working).

7. Created a whole new community - through work, S's school, and a shared love of books, food, wine, sun, mah jongg, and Brookline.

What I hope to do in the next decade:

1. Have enough (see #6 above).

2. Find someone to get through life together with me instead of always having to do it on my own. Preferably someone brilliant (or pretty smart, at least) who makes me laugh and loves to eat.

3. Bucket list: row on the Thames, eat and write about it in as many places as I can possibly get to.

4. Find a new job? Not sure yet. Would be hard to leave but should I be trying to work at a college? Or take some big independent school leap?

5. Meet my father. Maybe that's where I should start. Stay tuned....

As my old friend Bill Baker put it in his storytelling blog today: "I resolve to never forget the past, but also to not let that past prevent me from looking to the future with promise and possibility." Very wise, Bill. Thanks.

A more mundane goal I have is to perfect this ravioli. I keep failing miserably. The filling is a winner, though, so try it out. I'm just finding it impossible to figure out my KitchenAid's ravioli attachment, but you can always use a dumpling maker.

It started off so well....

And then....

You give it a try....

Ravioli Stuffed with Swiss Chard, Pancetta, Ricotta, and Goat Cheese
Adapted from
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan and my KitchenAid directions

For the stuffing:

2 lbs Swiss chard or fresh spinach
2 1/2 T onion chopped very fine
3 1/2 T chopped
3 T butter
1/2 c fresh ricotta mixed with...
1/2 c soft goat cheese
1 egg yolk
2/3 c freshly grated
romano cheese
Whole nutmeg

1. Pull the chard leaves from the stalks and wash or soak in cold water until there is no trace of dirt.
2. Put the leaves in a pot with just the water that clings to them. Add a large pinch of salt, cover the pot, and turn heat on to medium and cook until tender, about 12 minutes or so. Drain, cool, squeeze it gently to drive out as much moisture as possible and chop it very fine.
3. In a small saute pan put the onion, pancetta, and butter and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the onion becomes translucent and the pancetta is crisp, then add the chopped chard. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes until all the butter has been absorbed.
4. Turn out all the contents of the pan into a bowl. Add the ricotta/goat cheese mixture, grated
romano, and a tiny grating -- about 1/8 of a teaspoon -- of nutmeg and mix with a fork until all ingredients have been evenly combined. Taste and correct for salt.

[I'm going to be a little wishy-washy about the pasta dough. This is Marcella's recipe for a dough to use with stuffed pasta. And then the directions for mixing with a KitchenAid. From there you're on your own -- because it depends on what equipment you have.]

For the homemade pasta:
1 2/3 c unbleached flour
3 large eggs
1 T milk
1/2 t salt

Place eggs, milk, flour, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

Exchange flat beater for dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 1 - 2 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes. Divide dough into 3 or 4 pieces before processing with pasta sheet roller attachment. Roll and stuff according to your machine's directions. This is where I start to fail, so I'll leave you to it.