The last few months, many of my spare minutes have been spent in my aunt’s kitchen. It started with dinners that finished outside in the springtime. Soon we were grilling fruit and tofu, and experimenting with quinoa and our new favorite thing: local olive oil. And more recently, there have been cold mornings of me waking up to her stoking the fire and then pouring cups of strong coffee that we share together while we wait for the sunrise to shed enough light to let the chickens out and feed the donkeys.
This year, in that kitchen, I have learned a lot. That despite all of the fancy kitchen utensils you can buy, pounding a side of a saucer into a plump chicken breast flattens it better than any metal tenderizer. That garlic slides beautifully out of its peel if you stick it in the microwave for just a second. That wine — usually red — makes any dish better in the end. That the trick to the perfect garlic green beans is to par-boil the freshest of beans first.
And just before the holidays, she shared with me the specialty of her Christmas feast, her homemade raviolis. She labors over them every year, and this year I was honored to have my clothes coated in thick bread flower and my arms sore from rolling only one ball of dough into a paper-thin pie. There are tricks to the raviolis. There is a fine line between not having enough filling, and having too much that the spinach burst out the jagged seems. You must kneed the dough, and then roll it — but getting it to the point where the dough is see-through is an art in itself.
Here is a little look into a small portion of what it takes to create a ravioli feast. Because before you can make the raviolis, you have to make the stuffing. And before you can serve the raviolis, you have to create the sauce — thick and chunky and delicious for more than 20 years.