Most people love autumn in New York, but to me June is the most beautiful and pleasurable month. Winter boots get replaced with summer sandals, wool skirts go back in the closet and are traded for billowy crisp cotton pique and everywhere you turn women are no longer in black but instead are garbed in bright blossoms that you find in a garden.
Vacations are on everyone’s mind. When I was living in New York, I met a wonderful lady with a dog and a cat who invited me to stay at her home to pet-sit while she went to Nantucket. The commute to go to work from New Jersey to Manhattan was long but feasible through public transportation. The idea of country living appealed to me since my mode of transportation would be a train. Her home was located in Glen Ridge, a small and charming affluent borough in Essex County, New Jersey, in a large 18th century farm house.
I had my choice of four bedrooms to sleep in (five if you include the in-law apartment over the garage across the road), but choose the quaint and rustic guest room in the attic, since it was not anyone’s personal domain, at least that’s what I thought.
Molly, the dalmatian, was sweet, but the cat on the other hand, let me know what she thought of me and of my intrusion by leaving her stool in the middle of the bed where I slept.
After that, I closed the attic door and banned the cat from “my room” yet she managed to make her desires known. Far from subtle, she would climb around on human eating surfaces, either the kitchen table or the kitchen counter-top. Even when I invited my friend Mary Ann over to join me for a Shakespearean festival, in the middle of our pre-event meal, the cat jumped right onto the dining room table, swishing its tail gaily and ever so nonchalantly depositing its hair on our plates as she sashayed by.
That cat and I never became the best of friends but adapted to being in the same living space for the remaining weeks.
Because the lady of the house was generous and trusting she handed me the keys to her van. So on the weekends off I went on side trips touring the tri-state area with Molly. The cat, stayed behind.
My first stop was Princeton to tour the campus, after taking photos and a visit to the Library, for lunch I went to a Italian restaurant, nestled on a quaint block, where salamis dangled in the window, and sat at a table for two, with Molly nestled at my feet and ordered the lemon penne.
Going out to lunch or dinner has never been my idea of entertainment, however going to an event; and having an experience, such as seeing a play, opera, dance, art exhibition, hearing music or learning something new, now that holds my attention, followed by a meal where there is stimulating discussion, is a break from the ordinary and in my book, a formula for success.
One thing I do after I enjoy a restaurant meal is to emulate the recipe at home, like a test kitchen, to see how close I can get to replicating the dish. I surprise myself with my knock-offs, both good and bad.
This past weekend temperatures soared again so I brightened my dinner with my lemony Princeton Italian recipe and offer it to you as a light summer starter.
1 cup Penne Pasta
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 cloves Minced Garlic
½ cup Green Onions (white & Green Parts)
3 Tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
½ cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Salt To Taste
Extra Fresh Parmesan For Serving
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. Drain the pasta, set aside, then use the pot to make the sauce.
3. Heat the olive oil and add garlic to cook for 15 to 20 seconds. Add green onions and sauté until just tender.
4. Put in the lemon juice and then take the pan off the heat.
5. Add in half the Parmesan cheese and half the pepper, followed by half the pasta.
6. Stir well.
7. Add in the rest of the pasta, cheese, and pepper as well as salt if desired.
8. Mix well again and serve immediately, adjust seasonings to taste. Serve on a bed of greens or romaine for color.
The ingredients in this recipe can be adjusted to whatever you have on hand, such as the addition of tomatoes, artichokes or mushrooms. Make sure you load up on the garlic otherwise your meal will sit there with no bark and no bite. And that would be a doggone shame.