Saturday, June 9, 2012

Fusilli with Pancetta and Cremini Mushrooms with Fresh 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.


  1. what a gorgeous, simple pasta! your pictures are fantastic. i am in oregon right now, and while the freshness is nice sometimes i could do with a little heat and humidity! it's june and i can still see my breath in the mornings!

  2. I cant stand summer. Give me cool crisp days, warm nights by the fire and hearty casseroles. Kindred spirits. Of course Australia is hot, but not desert hot where we are. We are in the thick of winter now and I love it. Hang in there, my friend. Your mojo will return. Keep cooking!
    T xx

  3. So many people get summer doldrums, but there's a kind of stigma attached: "How can you feel so frustrated and tired when the sun is out, and the birds are chirping?" I used to feel that way, but now I love the prickly heat and the slowing down -- part of the switch was made possible through the kitchen, too! The more I learned to put together cooling, calming dishes, the better able I was to relax and enjoy the heat, the swelter, the feeling of aliveness.

    But then, my husband HATES the summer, so I completely understand. Only a few more months until the leaves start to change...

  4. I feel for you! I hate the slow motion lethargy of summer too. But I'm glad, as a loyal reader, that it pushes you into the kitchen! Your pasta looks wonderful, and the use of mint with the mushrooms is intriguing, I will try it.

  5. This recipe I will definitely try. I love mushrooms and pancetta. And mint, of course. It is getting warmer every day here. I am not a summer person either but I do love the longer daylight hours that summer brings with it and a more relaxed way of life.

  6. Oh Sarh, I'm so sorry your melting and wilting in the early summer heat...we don't ever get any early summer heat, which is sometimes a bit dosconcerting...but I really do prefer the pre-summer cooler, partly sunny, partly cloudy days of the PNW too, but I do greatly admire your fortitude to cook throughout those hot months, maybe it's because you have air-conditioning, which few have here, that allows you to feel like cooking when it's hot out...I can't even think about cooking when it's hot, which is in our neck of the woods is maybe one week in August!
    I think you need to have a summer house here...I'm sure there's a cute little cottage around here somewhere that would suffice...and Pike Place Market will provide all the salmon you could want...what do you say?! ;)
    Hang in there...
    xo J~

    (Thank you for your uplifting visits by the way, they've given me a much needed has my visit here. I'm praying a 'cooling-boost' finds you soon...maybe some homemade icecream would help...just a thought!) :d

  7. PS...These images are exceptionally beautiful...and I love your new blog set-up, it's wonderful!! xo

  8. I can't wait to try this recipe. I love pancetta and pasta - a win/win combination.

    When I was still teaching in the classroom, the lack of structure that arrived with summer vacation always confused me. It took me until August to adjust, and by then it was time to get ready for the new school year.

  9. I am not a summer person either! I'd rather be snowed in! haha. But that delicious plate of food there might at least distract me from the heat and humidity for a while! :)

  10. Wow, how you describe the heat and losing yourself with recipes from other countries is beautiful. It is hard to be always chipper on your blog, isn't it? No one minds if you complain a little =] I'm sure your kids are glad to be done with school, too!

  11. I love the props, and the food looks stunning! where did you shop for you props?

    1. I drive way outside of town and there are these little antique shops stuffed to the gills with this and that. I usually rummage through for hours and come out with a collection of items. Many props, however, we actually use day to day! Also, my favorite place to stop is on our 12 hour drive to my in-laws. There is this antique shop that I swerve right into every time we journey home. Fabulous finds there!

  12. This meal looks so rustic and gorgeous. It helps that I love mushrooms:)

  13. I often feel that way in the winter. I think we all go through times like this. I love summer but not the humidity, and I'm in New England, so I can't imagine the heat where you are. I'm glad you have some good food to keep you company. I love any pasta dish with comforting. Beautiful photography.

  14. Yup, I'm one of those people who get the blues in the winter. Last winter I completely abandoned my blog. I just couldn't write one sentence that wasn't completely soaked in despair. But you are doing great! You are able to step away and write beautifully. It's very inspiring, since I am planning to fight through the blues next winter and keep writing...We'll see how that goes.
    I absolutely love your antique props!
    Keep cool and press on :)

  15. Oh that clammy heat is a wretched thing. But it is wonderful how you retreat in the kitchen and manage to whip up such wonderful eats. I think that we're in for quite a treat this summer, non :)) I have no doubt you'll feel better as soon as the next road trip is on the horizon Sarah!

    Love those wonderful flavors, the thin slices on cheese and those gorgeous caramalized mushrooms...sigh :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  16. This would definitely banish any winter gloom my friend - this looks absolutely fantastic, especially considering the rain outside my window :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  17. Gosh, these images are making me drool. Although, I'm a bit fan of dry pasta. For me it should be doused in sauce hehe still three cheers for your hard work. :)

  18. What a great pasta dish - love the flavors and texture of this. I don't think you should kick yourself for being down - it's natural for life to roll along through hills and dales! I can relate to feeling trapped in an air conditioned vacumn - I need fresh air - tough when there isn't any!
    Mary xox

  19. Beautiful post and even more beautiful photographs and recipe. I can relate to your feeling but for me it is winter that makes me feel that way. I just love coming to visit your website because there is always something beautiful to look at and devour with my eyes. I hope you can get into the summer groove soon:)

  20. I don't think there's any season that makes me feel gloomy, but if I lived somewhere where an air conditioner was a near-necessity, I would probably change my tune. I heartily believe that I never want to live with an air conditioner. I love the hot summer days where I close the shades, turn on a fan, and feel sort of sticky in a dark room. That is my summer:)

    Where will you be road tripping to this summer? I bet it will be suh-weet!

  21. I absolutely love summer. Guess I'm the opposite of you! I'm in winter world at the moment and it's making me not want to get out of bed, nor get it in (because it's SOOOO cold) so I waste time, a lot of time. :P This looks like my kind of pasta, love the mushrooms and bacon! :D Love your photos too.

  22. Your photos are simply breathtaking, ridiculously beautiful! And your writing also, this recipe just looks amazing. You make something so simple seem so gorgeous!

  23. Oh Sarah, I feel for you. We are headed home to Arkansas in a couple of weeks and I know what will be there to greet me the minute I step off that plane- oppressive heat and humidity. I find plenty of popsicles help. Your pasta recipe looks delicious- I love mushrooms and pancetta.

  24. Great post and gorgeous photos too!

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  26. You'd think I'd be used to it by now, but the summer heat seems harder to take each year. I keep reminding myself that it's not as hot (here) as it was last year. Yet, anyway. Spending time in the kitchen is a great way to ignore the heat. I love pasta with mushrooms. Beautiful dish!

  27. Sarah...I know that feeling or at least I think I will know that feeling soon. I dread the heat! Saying that, your recipe looks delicious. In fact so delicious, at 10:25pm...I am all of a sudden very hungry. We had pasta for dinner...yours looks so much better!

    Jeannexx that you collaged covers of New Yorker! :)

  28. It's winter in Australia and it's nice to think about your heat. I move to Australia from Florida so I remember the searing heat in the summers.

    I always thought the heat was God's way of telling me to drink more Mint Juleps.

  29. I am not a summer person ether, I love fall-) Summers in Pensilvania very sticky and hot, this year we have so mush rain for some reason. Your post is delish, what can be better then pasta with mushrooms-))) Thank you Sarah for your dark photos, love them.

  30. oohh i love pasta .. specially when it is not overloaded with sauce! Love the last photo .. that flower spoon and that antique grater .. so amazing!

  31. Came across this through tastespotting and made it for dinner tonite. It was delicious !!!


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