Monday, May 25, 2009
There are 3 little things at the top of the list of stuff that has recently changed my life for the oh-so-much better. Little things. Really small, really good things.
*Spoiler Alert: I will be waxing euphoric about kitty litter. For real.
There’s a commercial where a guest walks into a woman’s home, sniffs and says, “Oh, I didn’t know you had cats.” I have a fear of that little scene being played out at our house.
The “Oh, I didn’t know you have a cat” smell at our place would aromatically conflict with the “Oh, I didn’t know you have a dog” smell or the “Oh, I didn’t know you have a kid who occasionally pees on the rug” smell, of which we are all so proud. Of the many nasty smells that can waft through a house, cat box smells are among the gaggiest to me. I bow before one of my favorite inventions of this century: Cat Litter Crystals. Any brand of crystal style cat litter will do, but the cheapest ones I’ve found are at Trader Joe’s. One need only change the littler once (Once!) a month (A month!) and there is no smell. Bless you crystals. If you think this isn't a big deal, then you are simply wrong.
Next up, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. They really are magic. Leave a 3-year-old-boy alone for two minutes with a box of crayons/cup of coffee/used diaper and your walls will resemble a crime scene. The Eraser makes all the bad stuff go away. I don’t know how they work and I don’t care. I just love them with a white, hot, blinding devotion. The plain wrap store brand types are not as good. The new Febreze scented ones do not seem to work as well either and they leave your place smelling like a strip club. (Yeah, pretend you don’t know what I mean.) For best results, go Eraser classic.
Number 3 on the list is my current favorite edible exception to the “good, fast, cheap – pick any two” rule. My friend Lisa first told me about this recipe from Giada De Laurentis’s cookbook, Every Day Italian. This dish is simple and inexpensive. A dish that includes a can of tuna among its ingredients has no business being this good.
I use whatever type of whole wheat pasta we have in the house and canned Tongol in water instead of the albacore tuna in oil (less mercury, so they say). The lemon peel is key. (Sans lemon peel there can be a whiff of Fancy Feast about it all.) Giada’s original take on this also includes an optional recipe for making your own marinara sauce, but that would eliminate the easiness part and who needs that?
Fusilli with Tuna and Tomato Sauce
* 1 pound fusilli
* 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce
* 2 (6-ounces each) cans albacore tuna packed in oil, drained
* 1 tablespoon drained capers
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the tomato sauce, tuna, capers, and lemon peel in a heavy large skillet. Using a fork, break the tuna into chunks. Simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Stir in the parsley and serve.