Anyone ever had a day that found them making less progress through the hours, instead of more? Perhaps your half-baked day started with peppy momentum, slowing to a crawl by noon; and finally sliding back 3 steps for every 1, as evening approached?
Today is my day for fruitless productivity. If I were self-employed, I might write myself up for ineffective management. I suppose I should have known the moment the ravenous, swarming hogs knocked over the feed bucket I had just set down so I could turn and close the gate, resulting in another trip to the barn to refill the mash mix,
I should have known when I arrived at the check-out register of a cash-only market with no actual cash, necessitating a 30 minute round-trip to to withdraw funds from the only branch of my bank in the area, wasting more than an hour on a task that should have taken less than 45 minutes, as well as depleting my gas reserves. I should have see the cosmic signs when I was foolish enough to try straightening the woodpile, only to have a wobbly end come crashing down, spilling across the hairy lawn I was preparing to cut.
Finally, I listened. The day was already slow, crammed from stem to stern with laughable, idiotic setbacks. Pulling on my mantle of Oneness With The Universe, I embraced the rutted and wonky day, committing to the potential for zero productivity, in the hope of wrapping it up without further damage. Checking the list for the next assignment, I saw that basil needed processing into pesto. I had harvested pounds of the stuff the day before, and had all my ingredients ready. Instead of rushing through the job in order to quickly accomplish the next, I enjoyed each step methodically for what it had to offer, and ended up with 6 pints of homemade basil pesto stored securely on the fridge shelf, ready for winter.
It was like Zen and the Art of Pesto, and soothed my frazzled soul.
I had quite a few stalks of basil left over, and decided to search the recipe box for something with basil in the ingredients, that was easy and comforting to make for dinner, and found the perfect choice.
I'm not sure where this recipe began its journey, but it's lived its life with me having been photocopied on typing paper from the original 3x5 index card. Although it's black and white in tone, the mind's eye can clearly see the yellowed scotch tape that held the newspaper clipping to the card. I wouldn't be surprised if it's not 50 to 60 years old. The term 'macaroni' hasn't been correct in the culinary lexicon for at least 30 years. Besides that, the distinct newspaper typeface is reminiscent of a copy font you might see under a headline like Senate OKs Hawaii, Alaska or Earth Scientists Warn Of Martian Threat. (As if the scientists on Uranus disagreed).
People had it made in the 50s. Ladies wore fur outer garments without risk of public shaming. Breakfast cocktails were invented so liquor could be consumed 24 hours a day, and Velveeta was lauded as the next great American food product. Housewives proudly stacked bricks of the stuff in their shopping carts, alongside cartons of cigarettes, boxes of Jell-o Cherry Chiffon Pie mix (loaded with red dye #40 for realistic cherry color) and Tip-Top white enriched bread, freshly bleached and snug in its heavy plastic bag. While calmly building nuclear fallout shelters, they kept a shotgun under the bed and an eye to the sky, in case any pesky Martians should suddenly drop out of the stratosphere. In essence, the biggest threat was treated in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses manner, but ironically, real fear was generated from elaborate fairy tales invented to drive the newly minted, and all-powerful Nielson radio and television ratings.
Still, the 50s means comfort to me. Things were slower, quieter, and less complicated. Life was safer; things fitted more snugly into the dreamy, technicolor, American-made mold. Of course, in hindsight, life wasn't perfect. It takes the sharp focus of history to remind us of that, even on the most asinine of days.
The Rediscovered Recipe Box #31- One Pot Tuna And Macaroni
3 1/2 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil leaves
2 cups elbow macaroni (8 ounces)
4 ounce jar pimiento (optional)
1 1/2 cups cooked green beans
2 cups milk
4 ounces (1 cup) diced process cheese
6 1/2 ounce can chunk tuna, drained
1/4 cup chopped parsley (optional)
Bring water, bouillon cubes, pepper and basil leaves to a boil in 4 quart pot. Gradually add macaroni so that water continues to boil. Cover and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Dice pimiento. Stir diced pimiento, beans and milk into pot; cover and simmer 6 to 8 minutes longer or until macaroni is tender. Stir in cheese, tuna, and parsley until cheese is melted. Serve from pot or turn into serving dish.