These past couple of months have been pretty rough and hectic, and after one lukewarm and two enthusiastic reviews of a very polished rough draft, I’m finding it harder and harder to dedicate my time to anything other than my master’s project these days. I went into it thinking it’s just a paper. I mean, I have one lit review under my belt already — how hard could it be? But this one is heavy, the committee ruling with an iron fist. I have never, ever, done something as consuming as this. Classmates warned me that these always take twice as long and cost twice as much in sanity as you expect. No. Joke.

So I did the only thing I could think of to take my mind off of it for a while — cook two-hour pork and fennel ragu with from-scratch tagliatelle to go along.

DSC02026A wonderful side effect of slow-cooking onions, fennel, garlic, fennel seeds and spicy pork sausage: the apartment smelled amazing. [And he scarcely left my side. Always a good thing.]

I ‘forked’ the flour and eggs together to form the dough, kneaded, then rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled until my arms about fell off. Which, truth be told, I should probably do more often, because I have some mighty small biceps.

DSC02031A trick I learned from Jamie Oliver — roll up your length of pasta dough and cut into appropriate widths, then separate the rolls and unfurl into a tangled mess.

DSC02032Dump the pasta straight away into a pot of boiling and well-salted water, add to warm ragu, tossing to coat each plump strand. Serve topped with grated Parmesan [or Emmentaler in our case], a few thin slices of fresh basil and a generous drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil.

DSC02033

Also, I have a huge, faraway birthday hug for my dad today! You’ve always been a constant and it’s difficult knowing this is the first year I won’t be home to celebrate. So, from southeast Texas, ¡feliz cumpleaños!

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