Friday, January 30, 2009

have i told you how much i love the expression "dining table"? and sausage and peppers??

sitting around the dining table...sharing a terrific meal with family and friends...loads of wine...staying for hours afterwards talking/laughing...i cannot think of anything that makes me happier...this could take place in a formal dining room or just at the kitchen table...doesn't matter, as long as the friends/family are there...


i have been spending a lot of time lately thinking about dining tables...mainly because we just completed a bit of construction in our own dining room...nothing big...we just hung a light fixture...but when you live in a vintage farmhouse even small projects can get complicated. the "remodel" is not interesting...updating wiring, moving the electrical box to center the light over the table...patching, painting...etc...the story involves the fixture itself...it was the ceiling fixture which hung over my grandparents dining room table...so it has many special memories for me...i told you guys in one of my first posts about the love i had for my grandparent's circa 1920's home located in southern california why napa farmhouse 1885? ...so many happy memories from the many, many meals shared with my entire family. during the last two years of my grandmother's life, she needed to live in an assisted living home...my mom and her three siblings packed up the family home to get it ready to sell...a really sad time...and they recognized (prompted by my sister and my mom)...that the hallway sconces and the dining room chandelier should be kept in the family...they are vintage, very cool looking, but more important ...are a symbol of our family...memories of my grandparents.

my parents, aunts and uncles all have fairly modern houses and they were not interested in using the fixtures in their own homes...so my sisters and i became the very fortunate recipients. i got 5 of the sconces, my sister kathi 4 and my sister susan, 3 plus the chandelier. when we bought our farmhouse, one of the first things we did was install the sconces...they are perfect here, plus...what memories of my family...we hosted a family reunion a couple of years ago...it was touching to see how much the sconces meant to my mom and her siblings.... fast forward to today...my sister's current home is not design right for the chandelier, so it had been packed away in my parents garage for ten years. last summer, susan and i made a deal.. .i would "borrow" the fixture until she was ready for it...and the construction work needed in order to hang it has just been completed...i so love the fact that the sconces and light fixture have become part of my home..they look like they have always been here...and i have been flooded with cherished family memories...so to celebrate and inaugurate the chandelier, i made pasta last weekend (of course!). when i was growing up, italian sausage and peppers was a favorite treat. frequently, when my sisters and i spent the weekend at my grandparent's home, my grandmother would take us to an italian deli called claros after church on sundays... we usually ordered hot italian sausage and peppers sandwiches for lunch...and i have an aunt (last name donatelli) who makes grilled sausage, onions and peppers as an appetizer for most family parties...i thought creating a pasta dish out of these ingredients would be a good idea...and the perfect way to create our newest dining table memory. so i invited some friends to sunday dinner...in the dining room...as always, the success of dish depends on using the best quality ingredients you can find. "the ingredients really do make the difference". i found organic italian sausage and...because half the group were vegetarians..i also found vegan sausage that was delicious..and made half with the real sausage, half with the vegi one...both were really good... and the pasta with a green salad, good bread, parmesan cheese and red wine led to the dining table experience i described at the beginning of this post...talking, laughing, relaxing, enjoying and appreciating all that we have...so let's celebrate dining tables...one of my favorite places to be...

italian sausage and peppers pasta
1 lb hot italian sausage (use mild if you prefer)
1 yellow onion, cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
1 green pepper and 1 red pepper, both cut in half and then sliced lengthwise
4 tbsp good extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb fusilli (or any short pasta you like)
kosher salt
grey salt
freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp good balsamic pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese

cut sausage into 1 inch pieces and remove casing. saute in large skillet for 5 minutes. drain. add onion and saute an additional 5 minutes. pour off any drippings but do not scrape pan. add 2 tbsp olive oil and the peppers and cook uncovered for approximately ten minutes until sausage is cooked through. add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic softens..do not let garlic burn... scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan..(note, if you use hot italian sausage and the red pepper flakes, this dish will be very spicy..which i love...if you do not, either use mild sausage, or eliminate the pepper flakes...) meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. generously salt water with the kosher salt (water should taste a bit like sea water) and add the pasta. cook fusilli until al dente (firm to the bite)...start checking after 10 minutes. when pasta is ready, remove from pot with strainer and add to sausage pan. add 1/2 cup pasta water, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. stir to combine. turn off heat, add a splash of balsamic vinegar, stir, taste and correct seasonings if needed. serve immediately with plenty of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
what are your favorite dining table memories? please share in the comments section of this post..and happy last week of january everyone....



best,
diane
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"

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10 comments:

kellie said...

What a beautiful story and the sconces and chandelier are lovely. The pasta looks really good too. I will have to give it a try.
Thank you

Naomi said...

That light fixture is beautiful Diane.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi kellie and naomi...thank you for the comments...be sure to let me know if you try the pasta..
best.
diane

madrekarin said...

What a sweet post. It's nice to have things that remind us of family. I may have to cut the recipe back and make some for myself. No one else eats peppers. Silly, huh?

casalba said...

The sconces have found another good home, Diane. They look beautiful and, as you say, like they've always been there.

Monique said...

I hope you'll try Al Dente Pasta-the brand in the clear bag with the black and white check tape at the top. I'd love to hear what you think after sharing it with friends in your beautiful home. It cooks in just 3 minutes and tastes exactly like fresh, homemade pasta. Peace. www.aldentepasta.com

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi karin..thanks for the comments..when the peppers cook down they sort of caramelize with the onions and sausage...many "non pepper" people love them this way..maybe your family will? if not, they can always pick them out..more for you!!

best,
dp

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

thanks sally...i love their look..but, more importantly, love the connection to my family...
hope you are well...what's happening in your beautiful town these days?

diane

MauiMom said...

I LOVE a dining table and a dining room. When my children were growing up, sometimes it was the only 15 minutes in the day that we had together and could talk, argue, laugh.....oh, yes, and eat good food!

We were not very formal, although everyone had to have kinda nice clothes on, just to show respect for each other. One time my teenage son came to dinner without his shirt on in the middle of a very hot summer. Well, after being told twice that it was inappropriate and I did not want to eat while looking at his chest, he found his dinner on his bed for a couple of days. That was the end of that!

One of my daughter's boyfriends was visiting with us and eating at our dining room table and all of a sudden he said, "I can't believe you people!!" We were all shocked at his tone and words. Then he said, "I can't believe that you talk and giggle and get mad at each other and discuss anything under the sun while having dinner. At my house, we just eat and then go about our business."

Yes, having a family dinner at a dining table is just wonderful!

Donna

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi donna...you describe the perfect way a meal should be celebrated..eating, talking, laughing..being together...a terrific experience whether casual or formal...thanks for sharing!