Thursday, April 28, 2011

Triumphant Timpano

Have you ever waited to try something for let's say 12 or 13 years? Then, you finally do it with the right people, the right equipment, and in this case, the right ingredients and it turns out splendidly?

Well, this past Sunday was not only the triumph of life over death (thanks, Jesus) but it was also the end of a long wait. And a successful end at that.

Years ago, Steve, Ben and I had brought up the idea of making timpano, an all in one Italian pasta dish made famous by appearing in one of my favorite movies Big Night.

When we were first married, Ben and I together with a few friends orchestrated a progressive dinner Big Night style. We feasted on Italian food and wine at each other's homes and ended the evening by watching the movie.

On our to-do list someday was to try out this new dish.

It requires a recipe, which we didn't have, and a 14 inch diameter enamel bowl, which we didn't have.

Now, thanks to Steve's generosity at our most recent anniversary, we own both. This book is a collection of recipes and stories of the Tucci family. Stanley Tucci, actor and director, made the film Big Night. He collaborated with his parents and another Italian chef to publish the recipes used in the movie including the one for Timpano.
So, here we were with the book, the bowl and an Easter just around the corner...a perfect storm, as Ben might say, to try this out.

We prepared both the sauce and the meatballs the day before Easter and our planned dinner.

We cut, assembled and sort of measured the rest of the filling ingredients the day of.

We followed the recipe for the dough that lines the bowl and encases the filling. We rolled it out using the formula given in the book. As you can see, our kitchen island is too small to hold the required 28 inch diameter circle of dough.
Well, I've never been one to let a simple furniture problem get in my we continued.

We greased up the bowl with 2 tablespoons of real butter and then one tablespoon of olive oil.

We pressed the dough ever so carefully into the bowl. First we needed to fold the circle in half, then in a triangle shape to make it easier to lift into the bowl.
The dough is paper thin and we were careful not to tear it.

Here I am pointing to the middle of the bowl attempting to be an important guide for this dough.
We draped it over the sides and then went to work layering the filling ingredients according to the book's instructions.
Triumphant Moment #1: The dough turned out perfectly...and rested in its place virtually intact.

The recipe calls for ziti pasta, but even the local Italian deli Buon Giorno did not have it, so we used 3 lbs of this instead. Close enough.
We also cut up a dozen hard boiled eggs; you can imagine how many we had given the season.

We made meatballs, as I mentioned before, although we probably made them too large. The recipe calls for 1/2 inch meatballs. But hey, they were made from scratch, with beef from our own bought cow. So there.

We grated Pecorrino Romano cheese and cut up sharp Provolone, both from the aforementioned deli.

We also cut up Genoa Salami which I purchased from Lund's.

We then tossed the pasta (cooked 1/2 the time called for on the package) with 2 cups of the homemade sauce.

With the ingredients prepared, we let the assembly begin.
Oh, our work was not completed without a little, ahem, "help".
Have you ever tried Dry Fly vodka martinis? They are to die for.

Back to the timpano...

We were completing the last layer and I read that the filling should be one inch below the rim of the bowl.
Well, we had a problem.

Luckily I had read from a blog the evening before (and we would have figured it out anyway) that you may need to compact the filling by pressing it down.

Steve used his hands.
In my kitchen, that's perfectly acceptable. I was dying to get in on the action too.

Triumphant Moment #2: All the ingredients fit.

We then wrapped the dough over the top, closing up this amazing creation.
We trimmed away the excess dough and placed our first ever timpano in the oven at 350 degrees uncovered for one hour.
We had a little help while we waited.
Our friends the Willsons came over and we talked and talked and watch the timpano and talked and watched the timpano.

The dog waited too...neither talking, nor watching.
Then, we covered the timpano with tin foil, and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

We removed it from the oven and let it just sit in our presence for 30 minutes more.

It was a thing of beauty.
With bated breath, a few prayers, and more anticipation than I can usually stand, we flipped the bowl and released the timpano.
Triumphant Moment #3: The timpano remained intact, gorgeous and may I say, looking just like the picture on the cover of the book, and from what I can remember, the movie as well.

I have never cooked something that turned out just like the picture.

This was truly a new day in the making.

"It looks like a brain," Dr. Willson said.
I guess I can forgive him. He reads brain scans for a living.

Now, it was waiting time again.

The recipe calls for 20 minutes of anticipation before cutting into this creation.

I think we allowed for another 45 minutes...more time for all the flavors to mix and mingle and do their wonderful Italian thing.

Meanwhile, we inspected and listened carefully...for what I have no idea, it just felt good to get close to this thing. Okay, that may be the Dry Fly talking at this point.
And then it was the moment of truth.

Carefully and with a freshly sharpened knife, Steve cut a circle in the top of the timpano. This is supposed to allow for each piece to come out more intact, not falling all over the place.

Our cut was maybe slightly too small, less than the recommended 3 inch diameters.
We didn't care. We were hungry, excited, hungry, nervous, and hungry.

Triumphant Moment #4: Timpano piece looks, smells, and tastes fabulous.

I mean, how could you not want to savor this?

My plate as it looked before I savored. Or maybe after I had a bite or two. My salad plate had been adiosed by Ben and I was ready for the main course. It was really all that was needed on my plate, a meal in and of itself.
Triumphant Moment #5: Realizing we had over half the timpano left for the next night's dinner.

And more friends to share it with.


Next year, I'll provide the ingredients, you provide the "help" and we'll do this together.

Again, Alleluia.

Boo's News

I found this next to the computer this morning. I think that means I am expected to write it here.

So here is it word for word.

Boo's News April 27, 2011

I hope everyone had a Happy Eater full of egg coloring, candy and knowing the good feeling the Christ had risin. Kate got her ears pierced and Isabel got her glasses, pink ones with daisys on the sides (she looks so cute). Theresa Ferber was in town last week and is making progress on her wedding plans.

Other News
  • Hurray! The weather will be getting warmer.
  • Look in the newspaper for the winner of the peeps contest
  • Nova Classical Academy's Upper School will be performing the musical "Bye Bye Birdie" from the 13-15 of May.
  • The Twins have "jumped" back after losing a few games. Go Twins!

Thanks, Maddie (Boo) for the updates.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Underwater Adventures

A little more Hawaii this morning, please. It's early and I did not sleep well.

I have a cold.

My head feels a little like it did 20 feet under the surface of the Pacific in one of the best diving locations in the islands. The pressure was something to get used to. My usually too-quick nature almost got the better of me. But I rallied and worked really hard to descend as slow as I could. The few tricks our guide shared with us to help adjust to the pressure were helpful, but I still needed some time to fully embrace this new thing - snuba - and relax and just enjoy the wonders of the deep. Well, everything within 1 - 20 feet of my oxygen tank which rested above the water on a raft.

So when I tell people I went snuba diving, they say, "Snuba? You mean scuba. Or did you mean snorkling?"

I say, "No, its really called snuba, kind of a combination between snorkling and scuba. You should try it. If I can do it, anyone can."

And I mean it, folks. If I can do this, you can too. And I would highly recommend it next time you are off the coast of Lanii. Or anywhere else it is offered.

This is your traditional snorkling.
We did this a few times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

It was snorkling that I heard the humback whales. Heard them loud and clear.

And it was snorkling that I saw the big sea turtle directly below me just slowly swimming and skimming the sand in the shallow water off the coast of a gorgeous beach in Maui.

This is snuba. (Forgive the graininess. Our disposable camera does not do the scenery justice at all.) Here is me ascending...wishing I had more time to explore.
You wear a regulator which is attached to a 20 foot hose which is attached to an oxygen tank resting on a raft at the surface. Did I already say that, I think I did.

Blame it on the cold.

Anyway, as you move and glide through the water, it really is a cool gliding, peaceful movement, as you pull your raft along with you. I felt only slight tugging as I moved and not all the time as their was often a lot of slack.

We saw a lot of cool fish and coral. As an amatuer, I really only was able to identify them by name from "Finding Nemo". Thank God for Pixar when you are 20 feet under.

Look, there's a Scar.
There's a couple Dorries with a...a.....a.....well, I don't remember that yellow fish, but he was in the movie, I am sure.
More pics to come later. Our guide and friend Mark took quite a few of us snuba novices.

Duty calls now.

I have to ignore my cold and be a mom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A good good Friday

We memorized this prayer last year as a family.

The girls and spent only a few minuted recalling it this Lent and have said it a few times together.

It is a favorite.

Father in Heaven,
the love of your son led him to
accept the suffering of the cross
that his brothers and sisters
might glory in new life.

Change our selfishness into self giving;
help us to embrace the world you have given us;
that we may transform the darkness of its pain
into the Life and Joy of Easter.

I read an article yesterday that hit on a topic of great importance to me...building neighborhood.

Here is the article - Know Thy Neighbor

It is a good article and a good start to a conversation about reaching out and just plain old getting to know people.

I found though in reading it that it lacked one element...the sentiment described in the prayer above - embracing all the Lord has given us for the purpose of transforming it into His kingdom.

When you see someone with the eyes of Jesus, you can't help but see a brother or sister. You can't help yourself. You just desire to share in life and joy with them, even if it is for a moment, passing someone on the sidewalk, or helping them lift heavy groceries, or shoveling the 18 inches of fresh snow from their driveway, or just listening as they recall a hard day at work.

When Jesus hung their on the cross, he looked down and out and saw each one of us. He saw me, a sister, and took on all I am and all I will ever be (the good, the bad and the ugly) and He said, "I embrace you, I will never leave you, I will work with you to bring about new life and joy for you, your family, your friends, your neighborhood, your vocation, your whole life."

When he felt totally abandoned and lost, he still proclaimed forgiveness and love. What endured and will always be is Love, his plain old simple Love...his goodness, his kindness, his generosity, his empathy, his compassion, his meeting us where we are at.

It's all still there through us.

Let's bring it out to those around us.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let's Try This Again

Woke up to snow.

Must use imagination.


Here goes.

Hawaii, take me away.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Holy Week for Children

What a powerful and blessed week we have upon us!

I remember with great fondness the special traditions and liturgies of my childhood that made this week cemented in my mind as one of the most important of the year.

My mother simplified the household decorations during Lent. She used purple cloths to signify the Lenten season. She brought in a lilac branch part way through Lent so we could watch it sprout leaves and then decorate as an Easter Tree. We celebrated an elaborate Seder meal - complete with my dad and brothers wearing a yamaka; making matzo from scratch; and eating Lamb only this one night of the year. We remained fairly quiet and didn't shop or work much during the early afternoon hours of Good Friday. We attended church services throughout the Triduum leading up to the glorious Easter morning mass. In the good old days of cluster life, the neighborhood children paraded in our Easter finest up and down the block...think "Easter Parade" from the movie Holiday Inn. We really did that! The fine china and silver came out for Easter brunch, the whole works. What a truly rich and holy time for our family and our life!

Carrying out some of these and other traditions has been natural to do.

One thing we add is a Lenten collection of money to donate to a cause or charity at the end of the season. This year, our hub is collecting money to go towards Servant Camp, the week long summer camp of our branch of the People of Praise.

We are also memorizing a Scripture verse together, Psalm 23. Shellee found a wonderful book to accompany our learning of the Psalm. It is written by a modern day shepherd and he describes each verse as it actually relates to the life of a shepherd and his care for his flock. What a great way to make Scripture come alive and mean something.

I discovered a new item I think I will purchase for next year - an Easter ornament tree with an accompanying booklet of devotions. Find it here at We know the women who make this tree - moms from St. Paul with children who attend my children's school!

Also of great importance during this time of year is the examination of one's conscience and a personal reflection of sin, behavior, thoughts and habits. I think for kids this can be a tricky thing to accomplish and explain. One idea I heard way back in my first women's group in the People of Praise is for one to recite 1 Corinthians 13, but inserting your name in place of the word Love.

Lucy is patient.
Lucy is kind.
Lucy is not boastful...

If I can't put my name in the place of Love, I may need to do some repenting.

So, aside from the candy and pretty clothing, which certainly has its place at this time of year, I think the richness of the feast itself and the events leading up to it can and should be incorporated into family life.

Don't you enjoy the company of a guest more when you prepare for his/her coming? When you understand and know better who that person is? When you can call that person your friend? When you can recognize the sacrifice that person may have made for your benefit at some point in your life?

How much more can we remember the return of our Lord to the earth and rejoice with the disciples and friends of Jesus, who saw him flogged, bleeding, gasping, and dying, but then also were able to witness his amazing and miraculous return to them.

What did that return to his friends mean? What does it mean for us? It means everything. It means we can say, "I chose not to love today, but I know I am forgiven and still loved by the Lord." We don't have to live in the crucifixion, in the hard and suffering and awful parts of our life and our humanity.

Instead, we get to live in the resurrection. In the knowledge and experience of the love of a dear and close Father and friend.

Children can come to know this with the practices and traditions of a holy week.

Give it a try!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Hawaii, Where Are You?

We saw the play A Tale of Two Cities last night.

Check out CBProductions. They produce wonderful theater, all performed and executed by teenagers.

We left the theater late in the evening.

We walked one and a half blocks to the car through falling, blowing snow.

It's April, people.

I am missing the warmth and the sun and the waves and the warmth and the color and the warmth and the glow and the warmth and the beauty and the warmth and the water and the warmth of Hawaii.

These might help me get through our latest and hopefully final snowfall of the season.

Our view from our bed and breakfast in Maui.
Views from the beach. Locals know how to surf. Big Time.
Visitors know how to relax. Big Time.
And Sunset Beach delivered.
I think I'm good for now.

The imagination works wonders.

Pictures help.

And maybe I will have to lose myself in a book.

Like Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. I'm inspired to read it again after last night.

For now I will settle for the warmth of the fireplace and a hot cup of tea.

That should get me through the next week.

If its like this on Easter though...