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This spring, I experienced what it is like (again) to parent a four year old – or as my grandson would say, a “4 and a third year old.”
My husband and I happened to be in Iowa for the Passover holiday, and offered to bring our oldest grandson home to Seattle for almost two weeks. It was an uber-busy time for our daughter – moving and setting up her new office, single parenting for the entire time while her husband was out of town interviewing for the next phase of life, on and on. When we offered to fly back with Zay, she initially refused but shortly warmed to the idea. Being at home for almost two weeks with only her 21-month old turned out to be pretty appealing. Zay was pretty excited too. Especially when he learned that he’d have his very own room for two weeks – plus lots of friends and family to visit and daily outings with grandma and grandpa.
So what was it like? Well, I don’t remember being as tired in my thirties as I am in my sixties. I feel I am more patient now and don’t sweat the small stuff – like waking up too early and going to bed too late. And boy, was it fun to see the world through the eyes of a four year old.
All in all, it was delightful for Zay, but even more so for us. The only drawback – and it was unfortunately a nightmare – ended up being the airlines and the flights we chose. Snow in April? Yes. Cancelled flights? Yes. Overnights in Denver? Yes. Everything that could have gone wrong with our airline tickets went wrong.
It was still worth it. Our daughter had a more relaxing time with her younger son and he had much more time to be the center of attention. And I’ve decided that I want to make this a tradition for each grandchild – to be here by themselves in Seattle with their grandparents for a good stretch of time.
Zay ended up being really flexible and understanding. I loved cooking for him, taking him to farmers markets, and explaining the sites and sounds of Seattle. Since asparagus turned up everywhere, we concocted this dish following a trip to the Pike Street Market where we purchased fresh fettuccine noodles. My husband deemed it the best pasta I had ever made! If you knew him, you’d realize this is a huge compliment. And Zay didn’t leave one noodle in his dish!
Lemon Fettuccine with Asparagus
- 8 ounces fresh egg pasta – cut for fettuccine
- 2 Tbsp salted butter
- ¼ cup of fresh basil, julienned
- 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ Tbsp grated lemon rind (I did mine on the microplane grater)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
Snap off the ends opposite the tips of the asparagus. Unless the stalks are the pencil thin, I peel the stems with a veggie peeler (if thin, you can omit peeling), put in large deep sauté pan with an inch of water. (My sauté pan is 11 inches in diameter.) Bring to a boil, and lower to medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the asparagus is bright green and barely tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the stalks of asparagus and put into ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. This stops the cooking and quickly cools the vegetable. After the asparagus is cooled and dried, cut it into 1 inch pieces.
In a large nonstick soup pot, bring water to a boil. Add two teaspoons of salt.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the basil and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon rind, and continue to cook 2 more minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the cream. Slowly cook the cream until a thick sauce forms. Stir in the pepper and the grated Parmesan and set aside.
When the pot of water comes to a boil, drop in the fresh pasta and cook without covering until it is al dente. The timing will be determined by whether you use fresh or dried pasta. Since mine was fresh this only took about 3 minutes.
Drain the pasta noodles into a colander then add the sauce and pasta to your pasta water pot. (Note: this is why you want it nonstick. If it is a regular stainless steel pan, clean up is a lot more involved.) Stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated. Add in blanched asparagus and stir well.
Serve with extra grated cheese and a simple green salad.
This was so lemony and good that I’ll make it a couple more times while asparagus is in season. And keep in mind that the fresh egg noodles freeze beautifully if you buy extra!