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In praise of the internets

Posted on April 21st, 2009 by annakjarzab

I had a very productive night last night. FIRST, I watched one and a half episodes of Bones–major achievement! (Not at all.) Also, I cooked dinner, another one of my “lazy” meals (perhaps you are familiar with my Lazy Chicken Cacciatore, which I learned this weekend means “chicken for hunters” in Italian or whatever). Actually, this meal is only lazy if you consider the fact that I make it because I’m too lazy to go to Trader Joe’s, which is about twenty minutes from work in the opposite direction of my apartment. (So, forty minutes from my house.)

You see, Trader Joe’s has these amazing frozen pasta dishes that are low-cal and also delicious. My favorites are the mushroom linguine and the gnocchi, but because of the aforementioned farness of my local TJ’s I only go once in a while, stock up, and then when I run out I run out. I’ve run out. I ran out several months ago, in fact, and the last time I had a supply it was one I’d dragged back from Chicago because it was less annoying to bring frozen pasta from another city than it was to get it here in New York. Go figure.

Thus, I have to resort to reproducing these pasta dishes as best I can. I haven’t found a way to reproduce the mushroom fettucini, although believe me when I do figure it out I will tell you, but the gnocchi is really easy. First, I buy prepared gnocchi from the grocery store. Sometimes I get the frozen kind, sometimes I get the vacuum sealed kind, I haven’t found a noticeable difference except often the bags of frozen gnocchi (depending on which brand; I can’t remember what mine is called) yield more food.

First, I boil the gnocchi (this takes almost no time, because they cook almost instantly–you’ll know they’re done when they’re floating on the top, like ravioli) and drain it, then heat up a pan with a little bit of olive oil (maybe two tablespoons) and half of a forkful of minced garlic. (Again, I am lazy so I buy the kind in the jar. The garlic amount is for sure not hard and fast, because some people don’t like garlic as much as I do. Use what feels good to you.)

Once the garlic is nice and sizzly, I throw in the gnocchi and dump about a cup of pasta sauce on top (add more if it doesn’t seem like enough, and some will cook off). I use Brad’s Low-Fat Roasted Garlic pasta sauce because it’s my favorite (I also use it in the Lazy Chicken Cacciatore), but anything is probably good if it doesn’t have chunks of vegetables or meat in it. Then I throw maybe half of a handful of shaved or grated cheese (I’ve been using asiago recently, but parmesan works, and chunks of mozzarella would definitely work, mmmm) on top and mix the sauce, garlic, and cheese all the way in with the gnocchi. It takes about two minutes, and it’s scrumptious. I eat it with frozen vegetables sometimes (green beans or broccoli), but last night I had a salad with mesculin greens, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and balsamic vinegarette dressing (the spray kind).

Okay, so anyway, besides making dinner and watching Bones, I got some real work done last night. I got farther in my copyedits (I’m over halfway done now) and I even solved a little issue with the POWER OF WORDZ AND COMPROMIZEZ. Maybe I’ll tell you this story one day. I also wrote almost 2,000 words in GR, which I hadn’t touched in months. I was able to write because of research I did at the touch of a button online, which is pretty amazing.

As soon as I told my mother what GR was about, she suggested we go visit some ghost towns (California is lousy with them) on one of my trips home this summer. She sent me a link to a website that lists all the CA ghost towns*, and I think I’ve decided I want to go to El Dorado County–probably Coloma and Georgetown and maybe Placerville for the Gold Bug Mine–because that’s where GR is set.

I’m also toying with the idea of dragging the fam to Rescue (also in El Dorado County), because that’s the town GR is based on. Luckily for me, Rescue (which has a very anorexic Wikipedia page) has its own historical society, where I was able to get some documents describing the town’s people and past and a map of the historical sites that are still standing. El Dorado County also has its own historical museum in Placerville (another reason to make that a stop on the tour) and two websites devoted to its history. And that’s only the research for GR I did last night–I also used a great deal of research I’d already done on another Bay Area historical oddity, all of which I found on the web.

God I love the Internet.

*This website is a little weird, though, in that it lists my parents’ county as part of Southern California.

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