As I settle into winter, I see my friends posting about the snow that’s falling in Boston, sharing photos of white-dusted Brookline streets, their days starting with quiet, muffled mornings. Frankly, I miss it.
I’ve thought a lot about what clicked so well for me in Boston. I think what I miss most are the dear friends I made. But of course, I definitely miss things about the lifestyle there–the way you can walk to grab a coffee, and people actually do things like go out apple-picking on a Sunday or head out to the coast for lobster on a Saturday afternoon. And there are libraries at every corner and independent bookshops, and a whole area of town dedicated to theater.
Anyway, it’s partly all that, but there’s something about the seasons that goes even deeper. Anyone who knew me in Boston (or has seen me now, when 40 F is a cold spell in Tejas) can tell you that I am a wimp when it comes to cold, AND heat for that matter. There is a window between 55 and 75 where I’m not sweating profusely or losing circulation in my extremities.
Still, in wintry Mass., there was a point mid-January where I simply began to abide. The Roomzes even commented on how little I was complaining about driving in the snow. Of course, I never gave up the fight to turn up the heater, but even so, some human part of me that’s connected to the seasons felt that a time of frigid cold was right and proper. Just as the leaves fell in their time and yielded to the spiky, barky, barren trees and slippery ground, so the ice and snow would yield to breathy, dewy days in April. (Yes, winter is that long, Texans). If the essence of fall is remembering, then the spirit of winter is waiting.
I felt myself falling into sync with the changing weather in a way that doesn’t happen here. And it’s probably not something I ever would have noticed or missed, had I not felt the reliability of the passing months for two years up there. I heard a woman here in Waco say the other day, “Don’t like the weather? Stick around, it will change tomorrow.”
Nostalgia for that cobblestoned city aside, we have had a our fair share of cold here. “Wintry mix” has popped up on the radar more often than usual, and there has even been a bit of freezing! The cold makes it easier to stay in on our day off and watch folk revival videos and cook the whole day through. Yesterday, I whipped up this delicious pasta from a recipe from the woman I used to nanny for in Beantown. It’s the kind of recipe that restores your faith in canned goods at the same time as it convinces your friends and family that you are, after all, a brilliant chef.
Rigatoni with Tomato, Bacon, Bean Sauce
Adapted from Shana in Boston’s Recipe
The original recipe calls for sage. I didn’t have any, so I went with capers, since they pack a lot of extra flavor.
3 strips thick-cut bacon
½ red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained slightly
14 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 lb. pasta of your choice
1. Heat salted water in a saucepot for pasta.
2. Meanwhile, crisp bacon in a large, heavy-bottom skillet. When crispy, remove strips to drain over paper towels. Spoon out some of the grease, add a bit of olive oil, and return pan to medium-high.
3. Add onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes and beans, then cook over low heat while finishing the rest of the prep.
5. Chop bacon. Add bacon and capers to the sauce.
6. When pasta is al dente, strain and transfer to a bowl (for easy stirring). Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat.
Serve with salt, pepper, and strong olive oil drizzled over the top. Optional: add a dusting of grated parmesan.