What’s for supper? Vol. 210: Carbonara, yes.

The fog’s getting thicker, and Leon’s getting larger! There is no Leon. I am Leon. Here’s what we had to eat this week:


We had our usual combination of plain, pepperoni, and olive, and also there were some leftover mushrooms we fried up, and then Damien cut up some anchovies (leftover from last week’s anchstravaganza) just for my two slices, so everyone was happy. 

Saturday was the day the kids showed me the part of the woods they’ve apparently been clambering around in all spring. A beautiful and blessed place with an underground stream you can hear but not see. They found the  spot on the top of the hill where the spring that feeds our stream emerges from the ground, and there is a long string of enormous, moss-covered rocks that got shoved around by some passing glacier many thousands of years ago. Sometimes I can’t believe we’re allowed to live here.

I also got some hardier saplings and shrubs in the ground (in NH, there may be a frost any time until Memorial Day, so only the toughest stuff is safe to plant outside) — a pink crabapple sapling, a mock orange shrub, and some forsythia I got started in pots last year and then forgot about. Looks like the day lilies I transplanted made it through the winter, too! And I have a pile of purple and yellow pansies waiting for a home. We did have some snow this week, and the heat is still coming on every night, but we’ll get there. 

Rigatoni in béchamel with little meatballs

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, where she adapted it from Marcella Hazan. Basically, you make a bunch of little meatballas (that was a typo, but I’m letting it ride), you make a big batch of white sauce, and you boil up a bunch of rigatoni, and you mix it all up with a bunch of freshly-grated parmesan, and then bake it until it all melds together. 

Look at these wonderful little meatballas, twinkling like the stars in the sky!

Normally I bake meatballs, which is faster and not so messy, but this recipe seemed worth going the extra mile for. Here’s the recipe, which I will probably not make up a card for, as this dish got increasingly cursed as the day went on.

Don’t get me wrong: it was completely scrumptious.  Imagine the aroma:

Just the coziest, most creamy, savory thing imaginable.

But like I said, it was cursed. I ended up spending something like five hours making it, which is completely unreasonable. And there were some . . . interpersonal problems that cropped up along the way, and I don’t think I’ve processed them fully yet. If it’s okay with you, we’ll just move along. 

Buffalo hot dogs, hot pretzels, broccoli and dip

Buffalo hot dogs are hot dogs with blue cheese, hot sauce, and chopped scallions on them, and they are my current favorite hot dogs. 

Can we all stop for a moment and admire the stellar chopping job I did with that one scallion? 

Scallions are one of several things I’m currently sprouting on my windowsill.

The others are celery, which is coming along nicely

and horseradish, which is just sitting there like an asshole. 

It was sprouting, until I put it in water, and then nothing. Whatever. You can be replaced, pal. Don’t you ever for a second get to thinking you’re irreplaceable.

There’s also this. I’m not sure what the expectations are here. 

Well, there’s no rush. 

Chicken salad with strawberries, nuts, and cheese

Old reliable. I bought one of those cartons of mixed greens, and then also some other lettuce just for the lizard, as well as some pea sprouts, which I happen to know he likes. I told Moe I had bought his lizard some pea sprouts, and he said, “Oh, good. I was just feeding him apples, which he is tired of, so he got mad and pooped in his water dish.”  That’s what kind of house we’re running here.

The salad was greens, as I said, and roasted and sliced chicken breast, strawberries, feta cheese, and your choice of almonds or walnuts  (miraculously left over from Passover), which I didn’t bother toasting, but which I admit are much nicer lightly toasted microwaved. Tasty salad, though. 

Some bottled dressing and there it is. 

Pulled pork sandwiches, coleslaw, fries

I tried a new recipe for the pulled pork this time. It was, as far as I can recall, chunks of pork, a diced onion, several minced garlic cloves, some sliced jalapeños, a bunch of chili powder, a can of Coke, and generous sloshes of soy sauce, wine vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. I put it in the slow cooker and let it cook for about six hours.

As is so often the case with these things, it smelled PARADISAL and tasted fine. 

I ended up putting some bottled sauce on it, just to give it a little more punch.

If you’re looking for a pulled pork/carnitas recipe that has tons of flavor on its own, do try John Herreid’s recipe, which we made last week

I’ll put Lena’s tasty coleslaw recipe at the end, but really I just made the dressing with mayo, white vinegar, and white sugar, and it was fine.

Spaghetti carbonara, nice grapes

There was this NYT recipe that caught my eye, Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara, and I managed to snag it before it disappeared behind the paywall. Sort of a combination of pasta primavera and spaghetti al carbonara. It called for English peas, asparagus, and basil. But I couldn’t find the peas, and the basil got shoved to the back of the fridge, where it froze. It turns out Irene was trash talking me behind my back about planning to put vegetables in anyway; so I just made good old spaghetti  carbonara.

Jump to Recipe


No ragrets. I can’t think of another dish with so few ingredients that tastes like such a luxury. 

Irene, because she has to get worked up about something, was horrified to discover that you throw raw eggs in at the end. Which is how you make this dish, and she’s always eaten it happily, and they’re not really raw, because the hot pasta cooks it. I guess it just doesn’t taste right until you add a little dash of outrage. 

Irene is the kid, by the way, who was on a Zoom meeting yesterday, and got it into her head to stay perfectly still until her classmates started scrambling around, closing tabs and shutting down programs in an effort to unfreeze her. IRENE. 

Probably Matzoh brei (pronounced to rhyme with “lotsa pie”)

They had cases of matzoh for 75% off, so I did what I had to do. Check your supermarkets and see what you can find! This is a neat little breakfast or brunchy dish that’s easy to make and has lots of variations. Some people have it with jam, which I find a little bleh; but I have to admit, it’s basically french toast, so there’s no reason not to eat it that way. 

Jump to Recipe

I like it as a savory dish with salt and pepper. If you had some crisp fried onions, that would be excellent. The important thing is to cook it in hot oil, so it gets really crisp on the edges. Here’s some matzoh brei in its basic form:

I think I may also make Giant Chocolate Pancake, and maybe some oven fried potatoes, because I am fat, but I could be fatter!



  • 1 head cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 radishes, grated or sliced thin (optional)


  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup cider or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pepper to taste


  1. Mix together shredded vegetables. 
    Mix dressing ingredients together and stir into cabbage mix. 


Spaghetti carbonara

An easy, delicious meal.


  • 3 lbs bacon
  • 3 lbs spaghetti
  • 1 to 1-1/2 sticks butter
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • lots of pepper
  • 6-8 oz grated parmesan cheese


  1. Fry the bacon until it is crisp. Drain and break it into pieces.

  2. Boil the spaghetti in salted water until al dente. If you like, add some bacon grease to the boiling water.

  3. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot. Add the butter, pieces of bacon, parmesan cheese, and pepper and mix it up until the butter is melted.

  4. Add the raw beaten egg and mix it quickly until the spaghetti is coated. Serve immediately.


matzoh brei

A quick little dish you can make whenever there's matzoh around. Rhymes with "lotsa pie." One sheet of matzoh per serving. I like mine with just salt and pepper, but you could have it with jam


  • 1 sheet matzoh
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • oil for cooking


  1. Break the matzoh into pieces about the size of saltines, and put them in a bowl.

  2. Pour hot water over the matzoh pieces and let it sit for a minute to soften. Then drain off the water and press on the matzoh pieces to squeeze out the water.

  3. Pour the beaten eggs over the matzoh and mix a little so the matzoh is all eggy.

  4. Heat up a little oil in a pan. Pour in the matzoh and egg mixture and fry, turning once. You want it crisp on the edges.

  5. Serve with salt and pepper and fried onions if you want it savory. You can also take it in a sweet direction and serve with jam and powdered sugar.



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18 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 210: Carbonara, yes.”

  1. My sister-in-law sent me a recipe for pretzel dogs, which I made yesterday. Your family might like them — they were pretty easy and really tasty!

  2. I have a tip for anyone whose eggs in their carbonara sauce have a habit of either turning out too raw, because the pasta is not quite hot enough any more, or scrambled, because the pasta is a little too hot. It’s this: when you set aside some of the pasta water at the end of cooking – it really does make the pasta better – drop 2-3 tbsp of the water into the raw beaten eggs before adding them to your hot pasta. This tempers the eggs so that they don’t *ever* scramble. I mean, I suppose they might if you absentmindedly left the heat on High under the pasta, but who does that? Ahem.

    You can also add your grated Parmesan to the beaten eggs (and that little bit of water), and stir both into the hot pasta together. They seem to mix better that way. Of course, if you don’t have these problems, feel free to ignore my advice! I tried these methods because I kept running into the same problems, not every time but often enough to annoy me.

  3. I want me an Irene. That Zoom stunt is very funny. I also want me a crab appletree- a good idea for when Spring comes around here.

  4. The anthem we needed for quarantine:

    “I am fat, but I could be fatter!”

    Thanks for the laughs and the food ideas. I am praying for you as you move through the grief of your father’s death.

  5. Shopping and cooking is so surreal these days. I haven’t been able to find a pork shoulder butt at the usual places I shop. We haven’t had pulled pork since mid-March. It was such a cheap, filling meal. We’re all getting a little weary of chicken. We’ve had two extra people staying with us during the shutdown and they are on restricted diets. One is gluten free and the other has other food allergies. I’m trying to accommodate them and/or cook different versions of the same meal. Sometimes I give them a heads up that I’m making something for dinner that might make them sick, so they are welcome to make their own dinner. They’ve been very good house guests otherwise.

    This is my fourth spring in Ohio and I still find it amazing, almost overwhelming. I lived most of my life in the arid and brown West. My youngest sums it up well – “Oh! Look at all this green beautifulness!” Glad I’m allowed to live here.

    1. oh, that’s so difficult. After the first few weeks of stay at home orders, the grocery stores have been more or less normal here, except for flour and clorox wipes. We’re so lucky not to have allergies or restrictions (other than pickiness).

      I know the west has its charms, but I would miss the green so, so much!

      1. Yes, the West is horrible! At least for anyone who didn’t grow up there. All the Westerners keep saying, look how gorgeous those clouds are! -look at those lovely mountains on the distant horizon! But they can only say that because they’re so firmly habituated to look past all the horrible strip malls and 10-lane freeways in the middle distance, as if they weren’t there. It’s like they edit all the actual object in the human environment out and pretend they don’t exist. And unlike in the east, where kindly weeds and vines eventually drape and hide hideous human erections, in the west, they all stand up stark and bare and unveiled forever and ever. It’s awful, and living there made me realize how truly horrible the world envisioned by sci-fi would be, where artifacts reign supreme, and nature has no purchase.

    2. So weird about the different shortages in different areas. Where I am, until recently Aldi had five kinds of inexpensive beef but basically zero kinds of fresh chicken; this week, the bigger supermarket has chicken, but pork is suddenly like four bucks more a pound than usual. For Easter I made, with a slight air of random selection, pot roast. At least it was my best pot roast yet.

      1. Well, I’m a pessimist by nature, but there it is: I just noticed this week that the shortages at our store – which were previously very specific and explainable by panic buying, etc., – are now starting to look a bit more deep-seated, widespread and endemic. Items are out of stock that wouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination be anybody’s panic buy. I’m thinking we might all soon have to learn to deal without access to a lot of the things we’re accustomed to. I don’t know how my husband and I will live without Dunkin Donuts coffee, but this might become necessary. Or what if we had to learn to live without coffee…?

  6. I’ve said this before, but I can’t get over how fast and big your green onion ends grow! I tried a bunch of these again recently (right at the start of stay-at-home, in a fit of frugality), and just yesterday finally managed to harvest about the equivalent of 6 or 7 chive-sized sprouts, about 4 inches long each. I must not have the right kind of window…

    And how do you mean you started forsythia bushes? Do you mean from cuttings? Is that easy? I’d like some, and not many people around here seem to have them.

    1. Do your green onions have roots? Mine do. the window does get a lot of sun, so maybe that’s what makes the difference?

      The way I did it was to find a healthy-looking branch growing low to the ground and scrape the end off it. Then I buried several inches of it in a pot of soil while it was still growing from the main shrub, and kept the pot watered. It grows new roots in about a month, and then you can snip it off the main shrub, and you’ll have a nice little plant growing on its own. It doesn’t even know it’s growing upside down!

      1. Ah, that makes sense! I’ve done that with euonymus. But I don’t have a starter plant, so that won’t work for me. I guess I might have to buy one…

        And my green onions do have roots, but they just languish. But even my brightest window is pretty shady, thanks to our gloriously huge trees, so it’s probably a lost cause. But I do have chives growing in the yard, so I think just encouraging those might pay more dividends for me.

        1. oh, bummer. I think there are other ways of doing it, where you don’t have to have access to the big plant for a long time. People frequently mention how easy it is to propagate forsythia.

        2. We’ve had good luck buying rooting hormone in the gardening section of Home Depot (it’s this white powder you dip the cuttings in before sticking them in dirt) and starting all kinds of plants that way. I’ve heard ground cinnamon can do something similar, but I haven’t tried that, so your milage may vary.

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