"It smells really good in here" my daughter Eliza said coming in the door from her day teaching. We have been home for ten days alone-- my husband has been deer hunting, my other Haines daughter and her husband have been in Mexico, the two younger girls are at UAA and my son is, according to his facebook page, getting in touch with nature somewhere in New Zealand.
Without the nightly docking for dinner, Eliza and I have been drifting about, both busy with our own projects. But with the pending arrival of everyone-- except my happy wandering son-- for Thanksgiving, I decided to shower, clean the house, and cook a meal. We had salad fixings, and good bread, but I made a pasta sauce from pantry ingredients:
Onions, garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes,canned tomatoes, canned white beans, wine, chicken broth and a secret.
"What's in it?" Eliza said as I heaped steamy linguine and sauce in her wide lipped bowl.
"Just tell me if you like it first, there's a secret ingredient."
"Did you put prunes in the pasta?"
"How'd you know?"
"Because whenever you say it's a secret it always means prunes. You put them in with those pigeons dad brought home too."
"Those weren't pigeons, we have never eaten pigeons. They were ptarmigan."
"Well, they looked like pigeons, and I bet the people that killed so many Carrier Pigeons that they are now instinct ate them with prunes, this is the kind of thing people ate in the nineteenth century."
For the record, it was very good, and we had seconds and Eliza took the leftovers for lunch the next day. Also, I am not that crazy or original. I learned this from the Silver Palate cookbook, those ladies used prunes a lot. They are like sun-dried tomatoes, only darker and sweeter and not as chewy.
The only problem with prunes is their name. Just saying " there's prunes in the pasta" or "have some ptarmigan with prunes" makes you laugh. I like that. But if you don't, then don't tell anyone what they are until they have eaten them, and then call them sun-dried plums.