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Friday, September 28, 2001

You'd think a stovetop pasta dish would be easy, a relaxing meal at the end of a brutal (and I'll spare you just how brutal) Friday. You'd think that, especially since all you do is add water and olive oil. The catch was that you're supposed to stir "frequently" while bringing it to a boil over medium-high heat. Who knew it would take that long? I think I suffered some repetitive stress from gripping the wooden spoon.

As I bumped the heat higher and higher, I stirred less and less. Also, I might have slammed a few cabinet doors and pounded my fist on the countertop. Abusing the kitchen cabinetry is not part of the recipe, but when one doesn't cook, one does what one can. I'm not eating much these days, so I want my few meals to be good and filling. Mostly I want them to be easy.

Jeepers, Miss Landers. I mean, really. For once I try something that doesn't come out of a can or out of the freezer, and this is my reward for branching out. Before long, I had the dial turned up to "high," and I was leaving the stove for ten minutes at a time.

Then I stormed into the kitchen to give my concoction another stir and noticed that the other burner, the one with no saucepan on it, was glowing bright red. So I moved the pan there and tried again. It's one of those little adjustments that only the best cooks can usually make on the fly like that. I'm all about improvising.

I might not have done it all by the book, but the ingredients were brilliantly pre-stirred by the time the heat started working on them. I'm hoping there's some benefit to that, like maybe it blends the flavors better if you do it that way. Otherwise, this would have been embarrassing.

Anyway, after it boils, you're supposed to reduce the heat to medium for eleven minutes. I don't know where they come up with eleven minutes, but those are the kinds of instructions I follow to the letter. When it says "eleven," I figure it means not-ten and not-twelve. So I set the timer. And didn't hear it when it went off.

Since I don't know how long it was actually on the stove, I'll never be able to duplicate the recipe. On the other hand, if I'd done everything right and it had come out this bad, I probably wouldn't give it another chance. As it is, I'm sort of forced to assume that the disappointing result is my fault. That leaves this option open for another time, maybe when I'm paying attention. After baseball season, that would have to be.

serving suggestion

It looked nothing like this in the picture on the package.

Okay, so it probably wasn't that bad, but I was in no mood to be charitable by the time I sat down to eat at nine o'clock. I was hungry, though, and it was gone before I really tasted it. So I'll have to try again, I guess.

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