You know, I'm getting used to being married, and living in one place. There's something comforting about having all my clothes in one closet, knowing where I'll spend every weekend, and not having a 360 mile divide between me and my sweetie. Don't get me wrong: I am still on the go. I have a pretty substantial commute (at least on Tuesdays and Thursdays), and I have been a weekend warrior since moving back to Kennesaw. I've been on quite a few short road trips, most without Dave. Grandmother told me I had better watch out or Dave might leave me, since I'm gone so much. I won't write here what my response was, because it was definitely smart-ass in nature, so I just kept it to myself and laughed. I'm still not sure that all the women in my family are aware that they (unknowingly?) raised a feminist who is independent to a fault. My husband is the absolute sweetest person in the world to me, and we have settled into a great relationship - but we are still individuals who like our space. Case in point: I'm here on the couch blogging with a cute little napping Chloe beside me, and Dave's having his weekly World of Warcraft time in the office.
But, one thing we do enjoy is eating dinner together every night. Anna Kudak would probably call it a "ritual" that a "happy couple does" and she'd be correct. It's our time to catch up on what happened during the day. Dinner never lasts very long, maybe 15 minutes? Still, we both look forward to sitting at our simple IKEA table and talking, even if it is just for a few minutes, and even if we're just eating Kraft macaroni and cheese (which was deeee-lish by the way, the other night, but we ate on the couch, which is our preferred mac-and-cheese eating situation). We work together to get drinks poured, forks out, napkins set, and food on the table. We turn the television on the jazz channel and turn Casa Dawmilam into Bistro le Dawmilam. If there are any moving pictures on the television, conversation ceases - and that defeats the purpose of eating dinner together. Why jazz? Because techno is reserved for driving, working out and playing Scrabble. I'm not kidding.
Usually, conversation isn't earth shattering. I hear about Dave's work in an office with 11 other men, which is usually about as uneventful as one would expect a day working with 11 other software professionals would be. He hears about my students, their speeches, and updates from my friends I may have heard from through the day. Chloe usually jumps up in a chair and watches us. Okay, true confession, Chloe *usually* jumps on the table and walks around, then sits in a chair beside us. We are horrible "cat parents" for allowing her such free reign in the house, and we harbor some guilt over it. Oh well. She's cute, and right now she's our cat-child, so if we can spoil her by letting her stand on the table while we eat, who cares.
There are some nights we have dinner and it really, really makes me happy, like tonight. I've had a hellacious week, for some reason. I haven't been at nightmare status, but I have lost sleep this week. Determined to make my day better, I kept the Fraggle Rock theme song in my head all day today.
I can't embed it, but you can/really should click here and listen to it.
Determined to save my worries for another day, I stayed focused on the positive things that happened today - and there were quite a few. Before I knew it, I was home making dinner, in my pj's, and enjoying a much deserved glass of wine, waiting on my husband to get home before digging into my newest creation. It was so tasty, and a variation of another recipe I've made quite a bit in the past - but this time, I think I nailed it. Taken from Good Things Catered and adjusted to what I had on hand, here is:
Hearty Fall Turkey Sausage Penne
about 1/2 box penne pasta (can use whole wheat, if you're healthier than me)
1/2 lb turkey sausage
about 1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
about the same amount of diced red, yellow and/or green pepper
couple cloves of minced garlic
equal parts of dried thyme, Italian seasoning and red chili flakes (about 1/2 teaspoon each maybe)
some chicken stock
some red wine
splash of balsamic vinaigrette
1 can tomatoes, diced (or whole, and diced yourself, like I did)
couple cups of fresh spinach, washed and rough chopped
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt, cook the penne according to package directions, about 8-9 minutes until al dente.
In the meantime, brown the sausage (make it crumbly) in a large pan over medium heat, with some olive oil so the turkey doesn't stick to the pan (takes about 7-8 minutes). Remove turkey from pan when cooked, set aside. Immediately add diced onion, peppers, garlic, and spices, along with a good pinch of salt, to the pan; may need to add more oil if the pan is really dry. Sautee until onions are cooked through, about 8-9 minutes. Add some red wine to the pan to deglaze (I probably used about 1/3 cup), scrape up the brown bits from the bottom. While you've got the wine out and open, may as well pour yourself a glass to sip on while dinner's cooking. It's the A-50 way. Anyway: simmer that for a minute, add a splash (probably 2 Tablespoons) of balsamic vinegar, and maybe a cup of chicken stock. Add back in the turkey sausage, then add tomatoes with juices, salt again, and stir in the cooked pasta. Stir to combine, then add the spinach; it'll look like a lot, but I promise it will wilt down to almost nothing. Simmer over medium low heat until sauce thickens a little, the spinach wilts, and the pasta has absorbed some of the saucy goodness, about 10 minutes. Serve in big bowls topped with parmesan cheese.
I ate two big bowls of this pasta tonight, sitting across from my husband, and really have enjoyed the evening. I credit Fraggle Rock, partly. With all the stress of the week, it's so nice knowing I can come home to a cat and man who love me. I get to see great friends next week. I have a job that (hopefully) is making a difference in the lives of some students. And I'm an all around lucky gal. Happy happy joy joy. Let's go eat a turtle brownie and call it a night.