Two Recipes for Winter

You guys, winter has been an asshole this year. A real asshole.

As a result, my soul needs beige carby foods. I’m sorry, it just does. It needs filling buttery goodness that allows me to hibernate under my duvet, or in front of my fireplace and stuff something warm and comforting into my maw. Not every day, not every night, but often enough to remind me that warm, comforting things do still exist.

Now winter is also mostly over. We got snow last night, but despite that, finally, mercifully, the end is nigh. Tuesday after next is supposed to go up to 12 degrees. TWELVE. Twelve. But until then, if you need a little something, or two, to bury yourself in until winter is really, truly over, I offer you two recipes:

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 The first one is pastina. Oh my goodness. In case you don’t know, pastina is really just the type of pasta used, a tiny pasta often used as a soup pasta, that comes in little shapes like stars or squares or, as in our case, the alphabet.

It all started when, a little while ago, Matt was telling me about how his Nonna used to make him pastina when he was little, and how we could never get enough of it. “More, Nonna. MORE” he’d demand. I’d never really had pastina made in the way he was describing, so I figured I’d try it out. It’s really easy and so, so gratifying. It’s like crack.

The key to making it super delicious and soul-warming, I think, is boiling the pastina in chicken broth. I’m sure you could use veggie broth too if you wanted. Boil up a pot of chicken broth, and then add the pastina. I just kind of eyeball it, but the box usually has instructions. The pastina absorbs most of the broth, and once it’s cooked, there shouldn’t be a lot of broth left in the pot. The first time I made it, I didn’t put enough liquid in and had to add a few cups as it cooked. Once it’s done, you just scoop the pasta into some bowls with a slotted spoon. You want just enough liquid to make it nice and slippery, kind of like a sauce, but not too much. Then you just add a ton of butter and grated parmesan and mix it up and then literally stuff it down your gullet. It’s so velvety and smooth, like a kind of mac and cheese, and it just slides down your throat. Seriously guys, it’s so good.

If you wanted to kind of seem healthy, I’m sure you could add veggies to the pot. But whatever.

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My next offering is equally delicious and satisfying in a completely buttery, warm way.

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 I’ve not usually been a huge fan of banana bread. It’s okaaay. But usually just okay. But then, a few years ago I found this recipe. It uses buttermilk, and butter and the result is…fluffy? And buttery and banana-y and so darn good. It’s just different and better than most other banana bread recipes I’ve found.

I usually follow the recipe fairly closely, though depending on whether or not I feel like buying an entire litre of buttermilk for the 4 tablespoons this recipes calls for, I might just do the ole milk and lemon/vinegar combo. But I do make one change:

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Adding booze to recipes is another great way of making yourself feel better in the bitter cold months. Why would you NOT but bourbon in a banana based recipe?! It just makes sense. So screw the vanilla. Add the bourbon.

So anyway, chuck it in the oven for about 50 minutes, or usually more for me, and then when it’s done, it comes out with a beautifully caramelized crust, and even though there’s already a fair amount of butter in it, you can smear more on a slice, and then you can munch on it and feel at peace with the world again.

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Yea. You’re welcome.

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