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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cooking Days: A post about prioritizing life and a recipe that celebrates my point.

I took a few days off from blogging because it was getting too difficult to make the trip to various cafes or libraries while we were waiting for our internet service to be installed. Internet was installed... and then days turned into weeks over the course of a particularly brutal flare-up. Oops.

Ever since moving I've been focusing on so many different things. I had this feeling that once I was moved into my own place, I would suddenly be able to take over the world. Believe me, I certainly tried. I'm starting to come back down to earth and hang out with the mere mortals again. This means re-installing the things that are important to me, starting with the very key things and slowly working outward.

I think everyone, regardless of whether or not they are chronically ill, benefits from prioritizing the things in their lives. If you're chronically ill then you may have fewer things to prioritize, but their placement and duration can be of critical importance. I've had to re-establish my habits and admit which things are too hard for me, and which things I can't live without. I've read about this in numerous books and logically it makes perfect sense to me. Putting it into practice has been a whole different story. I've learned something valuable: people do not take the time to prioritize their life, to sift through their abilities and their wants and their needs because it is really, really painful.

In fact, while I'm on the subject, I have a confession to make: I am a completely stubborn, inflexible pain in the ass. There it is. I do not like change, and I especially do not like having to admit that maybe I shouldn't do something. Did you read that hedging? Did you see it? My fingers won't even type out that I can't admit that I can't do something. There. It's out. And right now, some of the things I "maybe shouldn't do" are things that seem natural and normal and absolutely one hundred percent necessary that I do and do perfectly. Ooh. I left out the "obsessive perfectionist" in my self-description, didn't I?

Cooking has been very important to me these past few years. I've slowly graduated from cooking a good meal one out of five tries to making a bad meal only once a month. It gives me confidence and supplies me with all the supercool good nutrients that my body likes. So in an effort to re-prioritize my life, cooking has taken main stage. We are trying to plan our days so that I am able to cook every meal most days of the week. It makes me feel accomplished, it helps our budget, and we feel tons better when we know where our food is coming from. Plus, nothing makes me feel more like a god  put-together human being than when I realize that I can adapt a recipe to include an ingredient that might actually help with a specific symptom (hello, mushrooms and your friendly niacin) of the day.

In celebration of all that, I want to share a recipe that I made for lunch today! Cooking in the middle of the day, rather than at night made me feel much stronger and happier, and I had the brain power to adapt a recipe at the last minute upon realizing that I didn't have half the ingredients called for. Plus, much better light!

Penne with Turkey Sugo

heavily adapted from Mario Batali's Molto Batali

Created by: Ani
Serves: 2
Time estimate: 30-40 minutes


1 Tbsp olive oil (you might need more if you don't have a non-stick pan)
8 oz ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
2 cups greens such as arugula
1/2 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup Pomi strained tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
salt n pepper
8 oz penne
1/4 cup pecorino romano


1. Chop the arugula roughly
2. Peel and finely dice the onion
3. Peel and mince the garlic

Cooking Instructions:


1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until just beginning to turn soft.
2. Add the garlic and turn the heat down a notch. Cook, stirring occasionally for another 5 minutes.
3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the tomato paste. Toss the garlic and onions around to coat.
4. Add the Pomi and the chicken stock. Stir well. Allow to come to a boil and leave cooking for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced nearly by half. Turn the heat down to low, and let the sauce continue to simmer while you cook the pasta and the turkey.


1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Once it begins to boil, add a big handful of salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. 


1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the ground turkey and cook for 5 minutes, until mostly cooked through. 
2. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook for another 5 minutes until the turkey is nicely browned, perhaps beginning to char in a few places. This will help it hold up to the sauce and not just get sogged down.
3. Add the arugula and the tomato sauce and stir until all the greens melt into it. Turn off the heat.

All together now

1. Strain the pasta and add it to the pan/pot with the sauce and turkey mixture. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Add the pecorino, stir, and serve with a nice Chianti or a rough red table wine like Vieux Papes.

**happy prioritizing!


  1. Living alone has brought my insatiable need to be a micromanaging, control freak from my peripheral vision to eyelocking stare contests. It's an angry and dry creature. It feasts on loud, insolent children.

    1. Mine feasts on people who *dare* to walk down the sidewalk near me. It's plain to me at least that everyone is too slow, too fast, too perfumed, too loud, etc... It's hardly my fault.


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