Thursday, 08 January 2015 10:09

It’s hard saying goodbye to a faithful friend

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The often-heard wisdom when bringing home a new companion is, “Don’t get too attached.”

“These things don’t live forever,” they say.
“It’s not worth crying over in the end,” they say.
And yet, when my faithful helper of only three years began to suffer a series of mini strokes, I felt a lurch in my stomach that made it hard to think about food and foodwriting.
“We’ll just make soup tonight,” said Chefhusband, knowingly. “Chicken broth with a few ingredients. Okay?”
I nodded and looked towards the phone, waiting for news, good or bad.
That was back in July.
At the time, the news was promising. Although, these last six months have been spent in a slow decline, with a nagging thought worrying at the back of my mind.
“What will we do when the time comes?”
For the time being, I hid a box of chocolates in my desk drawer. Followed by a carton of goldfish crackers, which I’d reach for whenever my optimism began to waver.
 In denial whenever I could manage it, I went about the daily business of putting down thoughts about food. Until this morning, when while fixing sentences to a page, my faithful MacBook once again slipped into a terrible and seizure-like state.
This time, electronic dementia settled in, not little by little, but all of a sudden.
Suddenly, there was no more pretending. And though it was too soon, it was well beyond the help of the warranty.
Rather than a second trip to the emergency counter at the Genius Bar, I raced to keep in front of a wave of error messages that fell like damp leaves that smack you in the face on an Autumn walk. As quick as anyone has ever clicked, converted and dragged, I translated Pages documents into Word-friendly files and dropped them onto a data stick.
 Now that it’s almost over, I’m left looking back.
After decades of using bulky PCs, I adored my MacBook.
With its bright little apple on the cover and its magnetic power chord that clicked free whenever I wanted to take it for a walk, it was the perfect creative companion.
Elegant. Created by intuitive designers who understood how to gracefully fit components and programs together; the way a cook designs a kitchen so that everything is at hand, and no steps are wasted.
Nevertheless, it had been for years of glitch-free use that I first turned towards all things Apple. For the all-but-promised freedom alluded to by its makers.
“We’ll just make soup tonight,” says Chefhusband as he pulls a Ziploc bag of veal meatball mix from the freezer and sits down to set up my new computer.
Then, as the apple light on my MacBook grows dim, it’s time. I close the lid and move on, and into, a new computer. And it, for better or worse, is a PC.

Italian Wedding Soup

8 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/4 medium yellow onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 lb freshly ground veal
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 egg whites
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tbs finely chopped basil
1/4 bunch finely chopped chives
1 tbs finely chopped oregano
1/2 tsp finely chopped thyme
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tbs oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until translucent. Let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine veal, ricotta, egg whites, parmesan, herbs and onion/garlic mixture. Mix on medium for five minutes.
Form 1 Tbsp-sized meatballs..
Poach in large pot of salted boiling water, maintaining at a simmer, for about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon. Reserve water.

For Soup:
6oz tiny pasta shells such as la Molisana “57 Cinesine”
8 cups chicken stock
8 oz. washed baby spinach (or mixed “supergreens”)
flaked kosher salt
grated Parmesan, extra-virgin olive and black pepper for serving

Return water to boiling and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse.
Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Add meatballs and spinach; simmer 1 minute. Add pasta. When heated through, season to taste. Serve with shaved parmesan, oil and pepper on the side.

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