There are certain dates and anniversaries that seem to split the year into different and distinct parts. Everyone has their own. It might be the first day of school, new years eve, a wedding anniversary, a religious holiday or a season. For me, it’s fall. Not only is it the season of my birthday, a (scary) time of reflection, but it is followed shortly after by the Thanksgiving weekend, a time of thanks.
For many years I’ve used my birthday as an excuse to sit down, reflect on what has happened in the past year and think about where I want to go in the next. A mentor from years past told me that every New Years Eve she and her husband sat down and wrote out the top 100 things they dreamt about and wanted to accomplish in the next year. So I tried it. For the record,100 is a lot. I knew when I started writing down things like “brush my cat more often” I was stretching it. But it is a good exercise. I encourage you to try it.
Some items on my one hundred list this year include blogging more consistently (yes, I know I was absent for the month of September), cooking more vegetarian recipes from my plethora of cookbooks, writing my nutrition certification exam, expanding my volunteer work, getting back to exercising after taking a year off, learning some more bullwhip tricks and sword fighting with my friends more often. If I only get through half of my list it should be a good year.
In my mind however, a person can only move on by acknowledging what is past and saying thanks for the good and the bad. The past year (for me) has been a big one, and many of the things that were on my last birthday list got a big old checkmark through them. On the short list: I stopped personal training after almost twenty years and began exploring some of my other interests (I miss my clients but no more 5am wake-ups!). I began a nutrition course, took a cheese making class and attended my first Blog Her Food conference. I also began volunteering at a local community centre in their food security programs, I planted fruit trees, got a pasta maker, preserved about a billion pounds of fruits and vegetables, saw Lyle Lovett in concert, took my first ever trip with my sister, and got to visit my family cottage in Nova Scotia and friends in Montreal.
I’ve had dinners, laughs, adventures with family and friends and blessings too many to count. And of course, I’ve had noodles.
No matter what is on my birthday list health and fitness wise, you will always find noodles there. I may not allow myself to eat them as much as I used to but I always come back to them. This is my favourite pasta recipe of the past year. One warm summer night my sister was visiting and as we chatted we, of course, tried to solve the worlds problems. One of which (this year at least) included how to eat all the zucchini from the garden. After acknowledging how fortunate we are that we even considered too much food a problem, this is what we came up with – pasta with zucchini, mint, lime and vermouth. Since that night I’ve made several variations, but haven’t actually tested it since that too is on my list – test less, play more. So with measurements copied straight from the notes I made the next day, here is our recipe.
- 1 medium zucchini mandolined and cut into matchstick size pieces
- olive oil, about 3 tablespoons
- chili flakes, 1 tsp
- garlic, 1-2 cloves, smashed
- proscuitto , 4 slices, diced (bacon would work too)
- zest of 1 lime
- lime juice of 1.5 limes
- big splash of vermouth
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- chopped fresh mint, lots
- crumbled feta cheese
- kamut pasta
Slice/chop all zucchini into thin matchstick size pieces. Place in colander and sprinkle liberally with salt. Set aside for about 30 minutes.
When zucchini has begun to go limp add a splash of olive oil to a large saute pan, add proscuitto and gently cook. When softened, add garlic and chili flakes. Cook until garlic is translucent.
In the meantime put a pot of salted water on to boil in preparation for noodles. Cook according to pasta directions.
Thoroughly rinse zucchini and then add to pan with garlic and proscuitto.
Add lime zest, and juice and cook for 5 minutes.
When noodles are almost cooked add vermouth and half the mint to the sauce.
Drain noodles, reserving about 1 tbsp. cooking liquid. Add noodles, liquid, remaining mint and feta to pan. Toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.
Happy list making.