in a hole in the ground

Zen and the Art of Pasta Sauce

  • 1lb ground beef, frozen
  • 1 can cream of whatever soup
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4-5 white or cremini mushrooms
  • half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 and a bit cups of farfalle or maybe rotini? Idk I’m not Italian
  • Heineken

Get home a bit late from work. Decide you want pasta. Realize that if you wanted pasta, you should’ve probably gotten something out of the freezer this morning or you’re going to have to suck it up and go to the grocery store. Do neither and submerge the freezer-bag-ensconced ground beef in tepid water with the hope that it’ll defrost quickly.

Begin veg prep. Do something somewhat like mincing to the mushrooms; that’s cool, right? Crush the garlic with the flat of the knife because it’s satisfying then question how much that really affects anything in the overall swing of things while continuing to mangle it finer with the actual, sharp, you’re-supposed-to-use-this-part of the blade.

Get bored waiting for the beef to thaw. You’re going to cook it pretty much well-done anyway, right, so why not just let it continue to thaw in the pan? Toss it in at medium-high heat.

Ah, that’s why not. Go throw in some olive oil much too late in the process (“It’s medium so it’s got lots of fat in it, right?”) and get the batteries out of the fire alarms (“Oh, that’s where that one is!”). Do your best to tear apart the burnt chunks while continuing to break up the larger, still-mostly-frozen pieces.

Add the garlic in here somewhere.

Once the beef is thoroughly cooked and not a moment before (because that would be the right time to do it), add the can of soup. Spread it around for a few seconds while trying to decide what other liquid would make this less of a balled-up disaster then slosh in a cup of milk from the measuring-ish implement you can find. Panic in the face of your decisions: it will truly be a miracle if this results in something that is in any way edible.

Make a huge mess getting all the various bits in the pan melded together. Realize you should’ve used a larger pan. Reduce heat to medium. Reduce the sauce, too. Taste the sauce. Bad call on the cream of celery there, mate. Remember you forgot the mushrooms. Add the mushrooms. Add black pepper.

Around the time the mixture has been reduced to a more normal sauce-like consistency and you’ve been reduced nearly to a nervous breakdown, remember the pasta. Get the water on to boil. Decide the reduction has gone on for long enough and bring the heat down as low as it goes.

Do some dishes to kill time. Nervously eye the quantity of pasta you’ve deemed appropriate. Will it be enough? Will it be far, far, far, far too much? Literally no one is capable of knowing and anyone who says otherwise is a damned liar.

When the water boils, add the pasta. Shortly thereafter, remember the red pepper. Add the red pepper to the sauce. Good thing you don’t like it too cooked. Add some more black pepper while you’re at it too, ‘cause why not? Remember you forgot to set a timer when you added the pasta. Make a note of whatever the clock on the stove reads and decide against setting a timer because it’s too late for that now.

Chop some parsley that you’ve had in the crisper drawer for six weeks which is miraculously still green because that’s a thing people put on top of pasta sauce, right?

Do more dishes.

Oh look, the pasta’s done. Sweet. Drain the pasta.

Start writing blog post.

Remember the pasta. Plate pasta, add sauce, top with parsley. Take photo for Instagram. Realize photo looks like dogfood. Decide to use photo for blog post instead.

Taste. Yep, cream of celery was a bad call.

Taste more. Yep, parsley was a worse call.

And that beef is really overcooked.

Good thing there’s Heineken though.

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