Fusilli with Pancetta and Cremini Mushrooms with Fresh Mint...plus a side of 'moan' and 'groan'

After returning from the fresh crisp breezes of Oregon, I must say we have been having a hard time plunging headlong into the heat and humidity that is this deep deep south.

Some people fall into doldrums during the long dark days of winter.  I, on the other hand, tend to feel languid, listless, and despondent during these early hot days of summer.

Needless to say (wink), I am not a summer person.

Our school year is winding down and I find myself in that interim period when my finely tuned daily schedule has lost its hour by hour structure.  Our homeschooling world is one of schedules, deadlines, papers to write, and books to devour.  We are in a lull before summer school begins and the minds are fired-up once more.

Hours seem to stretch in front of me without concrete direction and focus.  The heat keeps us trapped indoors for most of the day.  Exercise activities are before 9am or after 7pm.  This is a tough time of the year and, at present,  I grow weary with trying to remain bright and cheerful on "Thyme".

I've lost my 'mojo' for a bit and I'll languish here pathetically paralleling the wilting and blurry air that feels suffocating when we move out and about in town.  We seem to only to retreat back home into our air-conditioned enclave.

The skip in my step will return.  I go through this self-inflicted misery every year at this time since our move here two years ago.  The twinkle in my eye will sparkle again.  I just have to move into the new pace and mentality of summer.  

The windows that blew big fresh breezes through the house since October are shut tight.  The air-conditioning is humming non-stop.  

I feel trapped.  I feel like I need to breathe.

Needless to say (wink)...I am not a 'summer' person.

What I have been doing is retreating into my kitchen.  I love my kitchen.  I feel so comfortable there.  As we move into a new summer schedule soon, I am using my free time to play around in my kitchen with lots of recipes that have piled up.

This is a quick and fun pasta recipe  that came together easily on a weeknight.  

The flavors of mushrooms, pancetta, and sauteed onions are a hard flavor trio to beat.  Soft, velvety fusilli pasta boiled and a handful of mint leaves made a fun hearty weeknight meal.

A simple glass of red wine sipped and we languished over dinner ~ watching the hot blazing sun slowly slide its way down over the Texas landscape.  

I am focusing on some road trips that we have coming up over the summer.  I know this is a temporary state of "gloominess" that I need to shake off...get a grip...find the silver-lining...give myself a good "kick in the butt".

I feel guilty for not acknowledging the absolute comfortable lifestyle that I live, being thankful for places we are able to travel as I find myself  incessantly whining over this insufferable southern heat.  

Needless to say (wink), I'm not a summer person.

The kitchen is my escape.  In there, I can travel to faraway lands with exotic cuisine.  I think when I cook in the kitchen, it is definitely my way of escaping to another world.  

I lose myself in recipes that come from countries  that affront my imagination as well as my senses with cultural encounters, exotic smells, undiscovered foods, and incredible sights that keep my mind busy and excited.

Life at present is a blur of slow-motion movement from one air-conditioned enclosure to another.  

What is the benefit to "Thyme"?  While the sun sizzles the earth and the air shimmers with heat...

I am entrenched in my kitchen, escaping to cooler climates, creating recipes that tantalize my imagination, and counting the days until the windows are flung open again and breezes chase the scorching heat far away.

Fusilli with Pancetta and Cremini Mushrooms with Fresh Mint (Serves 4-6)
(recipe from Martha Stewart Living, April 2012)


Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 slices thick-cut bacon or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1 large yellow onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (3 cups)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch slices (3 cups)
3/4 pound fusilli or other short pasta
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint or parsley leaves, chopped
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese, finely grated (3/4 cup)
More flakes of Parmesan cheese for garnish

While bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, heat oil and bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until bacon fat is rendered and bacon is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add onion and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 8 minutes.

Pushing onion and bacon to edge of skillet, add mushrooms to center, in a single layer as much as possible. Raise heat to medium-high, and cook, without stirring, until mushrooms begin to sizzle and brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle mushrooms with salt, and stir onion and bacon into mushrooms. Cook mixture, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, about 3 minutes.

When water boils, add pasta to boiling water, and cook until almost al dente, about 10 minutes (do not drain water). Transfer pasta to skillet using a strainer. Reduce heat to low, and gradually stir in 1 cup pasta water, about 1/2 cup at a time. Toss over low heat until sauce is silky and pasta is well coated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Turn off heat. Stir in mint or parsley, and half the cheese. Season with pepper. Divide among 4-6 bowls, and top with remaining cheese.