I spent a chunk of the afternoon talking to my fabulous friend Shelby. She and I grew up across the street from each other in New Jersey and, for the first time ever, neither one of us are there now. We are both living in tiny apartments with even smaller kitchens (mine is so narrow that when the oven door is open it hits the cabinets on the opposite wall, but I shouldn’t complain, she doesn’t even have an oven in hers). Today, as we were talking she asked me to give her a recipe that she can cook on her sorry two-burner stove. When we hung up, I headed to the kitchen to see what I could do.
Shelby and I have been friends since we were born (or more accurately, since we were eight months old and her family moved into the house across the street from ours). We are both the youngest of large families and, because of this, we got into our fair share of mischief. One of our favorite elementary school games was making “magic potions”, bubbling combinations of water, chocolate sauce, talc powder and shaving cream. We’d empty out her brother’s Stridex pad containers, pour the liquid into them and hide them in various spots in her sister’s bedroom.
Luckily, our mixtures progressed to more edible pursuits, when, in junior high, we went on a sugar cookie binge. Almost everyday after school we’d rush home and mix together sugar cookies from scratch. To curb the effects of the cookies, we’d work out to Richard Simmons’s Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos while the dough chilled in the fridge. Once we’d worked up a marginal sweat (from laughing at the videos, not from actually doing them) we’d roll out the dough, cut it, sprinkle on sugar, and bake it.
Through the years she and I had various food phases; we spent most of our lunches consuming peanut butter (no jelly!) sandwiches; we would munch on Tostitos and salsa after school; and, at one time we were both vegetarians. While my stint as a vegetarian didn’t last too long, Shelby kept strong for almost twelve years. To this day she doesn’t eat red meat, and I think she still prefers fish and vegetables to meat.
Remembering this, I cooked tonight’s dinner in honor of Shelby. Pasta con Tonno is perfect for a two burner stove; use one burner to cook the pasta, the other for the sauce and revel in the simplicity ( even if you have a few burners to spare).