I always seem to start the new year off by reflecting, looking back at old photos, thinking back, not necessarily on just what I did and what my goals were but also on my children. How they grew, what they learned, wonderful moments we shared with them.
We spent the holidays in Dallas with my parents and my sister’s family so my kids had a great time hanging out and playing with their cousins. One day, Phoebe, my oldest asks me, “Mom, when are we going back home again?” I’m looking at her thinking. . why is she asking me this? She continues by saying, “I have to go back to school on Monday, January 5, so are we going to be back in Wisconsin by then?” She kind of looks a little worried. And I say, “Of course. . we’ll be back at least 2 to 3 days before you have to go back to school.”
She is, all of a sudden, better. “Phew! Because, you know, I have homework and reading to do and I left my binder at home.”
Then I realize, Phoebe is just like how I was when I was 7 years old. I’m not sure why but little things at school stressed me out. I didn’t want to miss anything or do anything wrong. Especially when it came to school work. Maybe it was the constant drilling into my head from my first generation Korean father that I had to be smart and the #1 student in my class. Yes, he probably started saying this to us, as young as 6 years old. I don’t blame him though. At least not now. That’s how he grew up and that was his way of expressing to us that he wanted us to take our school work and studying seriously.
Somewhere along the way, and I think it was in middle school, I made the executive decision for myself that I was not going to allow myself to stress out so much. Some things could go. I wouldn’t get everything. I would not make straight A’s. I would be easier on myself. I totally remember there was some math packet that we had due (it must have been for extra credit because I didn’t do it. I hated math.) and if you completed the assignment, you would get an ice cream sundae. Yes, we had an ice cream sundae party in our class. And I remember this vividly, because I was the only one, along with only one other kid, (Kenny McClain, the class troublemaker/bully and person who made my life a living hell on the playground) who didn’t complete it and so, we had to sit quietly at our desks while all the other kids got ice cream sundaes. It sucked. Big time.
So, maybe my approach to not caring and not allowing myself to stress out too much still needed some work. Because, you know, I missed out on that ice cream sundae party at school.
My husband and I tell Phoebe everyday to just do her best and not to worry about the rest. If she forgets something or doesn’t understand something, or doesn’t get something right, we will be there to help her. And my husband, for all the math homework. Because he did like math.
It’s freaking cold here in Wisconsin now, like -3 degrees cold. Negative 3. And my other job, outside of showing love, emotional support and encouragement to my husband and kids, is feeding my family.
Nothing is more comforting to me than a big bowl of Pasta e Fagioli. And because it’s -3 degrees, I added bacon and lean ground beef, along with the cannellini beans.
You guys, I hope these photos do this recipe justice because this pasta e fagioli is the best I’ve ever had. Yeah, better than what you can get at any restaurant. Plus, you took the time to make it, so that makes it 10x better at least. Packed with onions, celery, bacon (or you can use pancetta), oregano, diced tomatoes, pasta, ground beef and cannellini beans, this is comfort food. “Cooking the cannellini beans with the bacon, vegetables, tomatoes and a Parmesan cheese rind boosts the flavor.”
This is gimme-another-freaking-bowl-because-baby-it’s-cold-outside food.
This fabulous recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen’s new cookbook, The New Family Cookbook. I love this cookbook so much and as I continue to love, cook for and feed my family, I will be coming back to this cookbook again and again.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta or 3 slices bacon, chopped fine
- ½ lb. lean ground beef
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 medium sized carrot, peeled and chopped fine
- 1 celery rib, chopped fine
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced or 1 tablespoon anchovy paste (to taste)
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind
- 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 3½ cups chicken broth
- 2½ cups water
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup elbow pasta
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bacon and lean ground beef and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, for about 3 to 5 minutes. Drain just a little of the fat if needed (depending on how lean your ground beef is). Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and anchovy paste and cook until fragrant, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits. Add Parmesan rind and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken broth, water and 1 teaspoon salt. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, for about 7 to 8 minutes.
- Discard Parmesan rind. Off heat, stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe shared here with permission from America’s Test Kitchen. Pasta e Fagioli recipe from The New Family Cookbook, pages 109-110.