Mea Culpa, RIP, Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

Mea Culpa, RIP, Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2021 Stir-Fry Asian pork with peppers and peanuts

Sunday, January 2, 2022  –  Pork Chops Milanese with roasted parsnips and tomatoes

January 3, 2022 – Cobb Salad

January 15, 2022 – Pasta Carbonara

I was explaining to someone, the other day, why there hasn’t been a blog post for sometime and they said to me: “Enough with the excuses, you haven’t got a leg to stand on.”

Which, oddly enough, was precisely true at the time. On January 5th I had a total knee replacement and have been fairly laid up since. And then, it turned out that my computer ran into some issues which I can’t comprehend any more than I could have the operation that installed titanium and nylon in my extremely swollen and sore left leg. But I’m getting stronger, I’m finally able to hobble down to my office and, by God, I’m going to get this blog thing started again.

But before I do, I need to give a shout out to my genually-challenged (look it up) friends:  Roger (one knee replacement) and Julie (two knees replaced a the same time).  Good luck to both of you. How about a race on my birthday?

I am aware that the title for this post sounds as confusing as Sean Spicer trying to explain why President Trump’s inauguration crowd was really the largest in history, or President Biden explaining . . . well, pretty much anything. And I’ll plead guilty to giving very personal and inexplicable titles to blogs from time to time. But not this time.

Here’s the deal (sorry, channeling Biden again), the ‘mea culpa’ is a lame, very Catholic apology for no blog for nearly two months, the RIP is for our sorely missed friend, Tim, for whom Ann and Chris and Ambrose and Barbara and I gathered at a memorial Mass arranged by Ann, after which we reminisced about Tim and toasted him at the Casbah, the Happy Birthday is for nephew Hoby who turned 50 and whose wife, Stacey, organized one of the great parties of the year, and the Happy New Year is for the great dinner party at Julie’s new house, as well as the fine dinner at Tim and Hilda’s in mid-January, as well as a general greeting to all of you whom we’ve been neglecting.

As for our own cooking – SWMBO was cooking up a storm for the first few weeks of my convalescence, but I’ve gotten into the act in the last two weeks or so.

Notes on “SWMBO” and the events referred to above:

For those of you new to the blog, ’She Who Must Be Obeyed’ or SWMBO is one of my nicknames for Barbara, shamelessly stolen from John Mortimer’s character Rumpole of the Bailey, whose fierce spouse he found it unwise to cross. Barbara is not fierce, but I have learned, over the years, that it is both foolish and imprudent to cross her.

I was a surprised at how much the Mass for Tim got to me – but to hear a good friend’s name mentioned several times during the liturgy will, I promise, affect you more than say, the Mass commemorating St. Honorius. I was not at all surprised at how good the food at Casbah was (it always is), or how nice to share it with friends and how nice to raise a glass to Tim, the sweetest and most solicitous of friends. By the by, if you find short-ribs ravioli on the menu during your next visit to the Casbah, order it.

Hoby’s birthday not only allowed Stacey to throw a spectacular party, It also reminded his parents, aunts and uncles how old we are. We do not blame either Hoby or Stacey for this.  The party was at the Cleveland History Center, the food and drink was great, the toasts struck the right balance between insult and praise, and we all had a chance to catch up on the founding of Cleveland, by General Moses Cleaveland, a land agent – or realtor (highly appropriate for Hoby)– who felt the spot on Lake Erie by the Cuyahoga River looked promising, surveyed the land into lots which attracted settlers, and then, foreshadowing the actions of the many Pittsburghers who travelled to Hoby’s party, promptly left the city.  Cleaveleand never returned, but we intend to.

And, finally, the New Year’s Eve party at Julie’s featured her always excellent food, her fetching little dog and our very close friends whose stories and conversation and quirks enrich our lives on a regular basis, as we were reminded, recently, when we joined Katie and Dave for an excellent dinner at Tim and Hilda’s.  I was ambulatory at the time.

Somewhere in the midst of these obsequies and festivities, we did manage to cook another dinner we immediately declared a “Keeper,” and, if you look below you’ll find a recipe for Pasta alla Carbonara which we stole from Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta, although, unlike Marc who, after all is paid for this, we didn’t make our own pasta which, based on past experience, is probably just as well.

Pasta alla Carbonara (we used penne rigate)

(adapted from Marc Vetri’s Mastering Pasta – he used homemade garganelli)

Timing:  If you buy dried pasta, this will take about 30 minutes, if you make your own, God only knows.


Either make your own egg pasta or buy some from your local Italian grocery – you’ll need 1 lb.

8 ounces pancetta, diced – we used bacon since we had it and it’s immensely easier to dice.

1 cup finely chopped white onion (we used yellow or Spanish)

4 eggs, well beaten

2 ½ cups grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving, if you wish

Kosher salt and ground black pepper


Heat a large pot of salted water – you’ll eventually need to bring it to a boil to cook the pasta

Chop the onion, grate the cheese and beat the eggs

Cook the sauce:

In a large saucepan brown the bacon or pancetta, over medium heat, until it renders its fat – about 4 minutes for the pancetta, maybe 8 for the bacon (you’ll want it just beginning to crisp).

Add the onions and cook until tender – about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat – you’ll reheat later.

Cook the pasta:

Bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta until just al dente. Start reheating your sauce with about 2 minutes to go.

Reserve a few cups of pasta water and then, drain the pasta and add to the sauce, increasing the heat to medium-high. Keep tossing and stirring until the sauce reduces slightly and gets creamy and coats the pasta.  This will take about 2 minutes.

Turn the heat way down – to medium-low – and then add the eggs (you don’t want to scramble them) and toss and stir until they thicken and create a velvety sauce.

Now remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parmesan and keep stirring and tossing until the cheese melts and the whole dish comes together.

Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serve – with additional Parmesan, if you wish.

Cooking from a ‘walker’

6 thoughts on “Mea Culpa, RIP, Happy Birthday and Happy New Year!

  1. Bill, I’m happy to see that you are recovering well from your surgery and getting back to normal life. I always look forward to your blogs and appreciate your effort.


  2. Yea Bill! Such a nice remembering of the past few months and look how beautifully you have recovered. I believe we saw a “ Cooking on the walker “ several yeas ago, not many can pull that one off Bill! 😱
    Cheers to you , and be strong Rodger and Julie with the knees, and Katie with the new hip! 🐇💕💙☃️❄️😎

  3. Keep up the good work, Bill on recovering from your knee replacement! Glad to see the blog again. I missed it. Cheers to Julie and Roger and others for successful knee and or hip replacements!!!!💜💙💛💚💜💙💛💚Love,
    Kathy Murray

  4. Bill, I knew a new knee would not keep you down for long!! So glad your felling better…and that Beez gets a break in the kitchen! 😊

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