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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

More is MORE!

I've been a menu-planning-recipe-testing-crazed woman for a solid 18 days.
No, not because of Tastey Tuesday.   
However,  lucky for you---you will reap the benefits of my insane behavior.  
Did I mention that I have been entrusted with the very coveted  hosting of  Carmen's family's super Italian Christmas Eve tradition--which is steeped in tons of ritual--Vigilia di Natale?
Yeah, I might have forgot to mention that since I've been having a month-long panic attack.  
Hosting this event....and IT IS AN a major responsibility.  I mean, it's not just about the food (even though it's all about THE FOOD....).  It's about the entire process.   It's about the table.  It's about who is at the table.  It's about the cadence.  It's about the china.   It's about the candles.  It's about the crystal.  It's about the centerpiece.  It's about the wine.  It's about the silverware.  Yeah, it's about everything but the kitchen sink.  Oh wait....I think there is something about the kitchen sink...
Now, please know that I am not complaining. 
I am beyond thrilled to be taking this on. 
This is exactly my kinda thing with all its pomp and circumstance and tradition and cooking and planning and recipes and......well you get the picture.  
 It's something I've long wanted to do.  I have such warm and wonderful memories of celebrating this tradition with my mother.  In fact--to this day, even though my mother has been gone for 40 Christmases.... I can vividly recall what the entire week leading up to Christmas Eve felt like....what the house smelled like, what it sounded like, what dishes and platters and glasses she would drag out....
I see her in her Christmas apron in our little kitchen.  I've always wanted to do that to. 
 And, now I am.....
Because the importance of this event has so many frightens me a bit.   I've been finding myself sweating over things like the color of the napkins and the design on the flatware.  
Really Judi?
Yes, really.  
So, I've been going through a Vigilia di Natale Crash Course.... 
I am pretty sure I'm *this* close to a PhD.  
In addition to consulting online sources, scouring cook books and going through  my mother's recipe boxes and making numerous calls to my mother's 2 sisters (both of them well into their 90's) and my Italian cousins and enlisting some of my mother-in-law's assistance, I have turned to my dear, spirited and super Italian friend Angela.  She has been hosting this event at her house since her own mother died about 20 years ago.  She is very serious about the entire process and about the food and about the rituals and  everything that goes with she gets me.  She knows that I start with a theme in my head and go from there....with everything.  She's one of those friends who knows not only to call me and ask when she can make to bring to a party at my house, she also knows to ask what color of  dish to put it in.  And, she loves wine and martinis and sneaking smokes.   
Yes, she has been the perfect adviser.....
The other day during one of our training sessions, she bestowed upon me her mother's much loved Christmas Eve Pasta with Tuna and Olives recipe.     
So, I am sharing it with you.....
You can thank my dear spirited friend Angela.....

3 to 4 jars of Marinara Sauce -  any kind you like
2 small cans of tomato paste
4 cans of Italian Tuna Fish  (drained)
 3 small cans of chopped black olives
1 chopped onion
1 chopped green pepper

Brown onion and green pepper in olive oil until clear,  add marinara and tomato paste and cook for 1 hour
Add drained cans of Tuna and cook for another 30 minutes
Add olives and cook for another 30 minutes

Cook 2 lbs of Linguini (you will have  lot of sauce left over - it tastes even better the next day).

Sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and serve with big chunks of Italian Bread. 

Now, it's time to take a little break in my maniacal behavior and try to act like a normal person for the next few days.......
 I'll be back in time to wish you Merry Christmas......

May God Bless the families of  Newtown CT and hold those dear children and educators close to Him in Heaven....... 

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