More Summer Pasta, Shredded Zukes, Voting FAQs

For those of you who have been following me from the beginning, this might come as a shock to you, but two days ago I dropped off my firstborn at college. Yes, Phoebe. The one who loves mud cakes and hates pasta. The one who taught me everything I know about graphic novels and Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers and cross country. Who, four years ago, stuck a post-it note on the back of her bedroom door that says “Be Kind. Lead By Example.” How does a parent even get her head around this moment? To be honest, I’m not sure. Right now, I’m still so grateful she gets to be on campus (though classes are mostly remote) that I haven’t yet let myself fully mine the emotional depths of the situation. It’s coming though, I’m not that naive. I find myself absolutely starving for any possible detail about her new world, and have to fight the urge to text her around the clock, but I’m doing my best to exercise some self control. We’ll see how long that lasts. On her last weekend home, she requested salmon salad (shocker!), and one final run on a beloved cross-country course along the Hudson River about an hour north of us. (That’s her above with her dad. I’m of course trailing far behind.) One foot in front of the other, everyone! Here’s today’s PPP dispatch from the family kitchen…

Project: Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil

While we were dropping off Phoebe, Abby was at home holding down the fort, and from the look of her texts, doing it quite deliciously. On night two, she tackled Melissa Clark’s Creamy Corn Pasta with Basil from the New York Times, and above was the five-star review she sent along. (I’m pretty sure this recipe is in front of the paywall, at least temporarily, but do let me know if it’s not.) We felt bad that Abby wasn’t able to be around to see off her sister (the school actively discouraged more than two people being on campus because of COVID; we weren’t even allowed to do more than drop her off at the curb) but she seemed to be too distracted by dinner to mind very much.

Pantry: Shredded Zucchini with Mint and Pistachios

On set for the Weekday Vegetarians photo shoot last week, we had a ton of shredded zucchini left over, just in time for our lunch break. When I was growing up, my mom would always sauté zucchini in olive oil with garlic, salt, pepper, and a light dusting of flour. And when I say always, I mean always. It’s how I usually make it, too, but since my family isn’t super crazy about squash, I don’t find myself craving creative preparations for it. So I asked Olivia for ideas. She said she’s really into sautéing zucchini (shredded or not) in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes, then tossing with salt, pepper, chopped fresh mint, and pistachios. So that’s what we had for lunch. I suggest you follow suit. This zucchini was shredded on a box grater, but you can also do it using the shredding attachment of a food processor. Also, try to expel as much liquid from the shreds as possible by wrapping and wringing in a clean dish towel.

Purpose: What’s Your Voting Plan?

I think I might link to this Guide to Voting every day until November 3. Our “I didn’t want to cause a panic” President has somehow managed to stoke complete panic and confusion around one of the most fundamental pillars of a democracy: Voting. Please make sure you have a plan. Are you registered? Have you just moved? Do you need to vote by mail this year? This guide will answer all your questions. Please share far and wide.

Stay safe. Wear a mask!

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, connected, and USEFUL. It began in March 2020. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and especially how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at jenny@dinneralovestory.com.

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31 Comments

Laura

I literally just started to cry. I have been reading your blog for years and own all of your cookbooks. My children were raised on “time for dinner.” My oldest is a freshman in high school. Thank you for sharing your family all these years. And best of luck to Phoebe as she starts college. As a reader, I can’t wait to hear little tidbits of her adventures as I watch my own children grow.

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Jenny

AW MAN. OK, well I can’t really reprint it, obviously, but the learning here is that Clark sautés scallions, corn kernels, salt and pepper, and then blends (in a blender) that together to make her sauce. She also tosses in Parm and butter. ALSO: I highly encourage you to subscribe to NYT Cooking if you can. I get so many great ideas from them. https://tinyurl.com/yxmagl65

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Caitlyn

I don’t subscribe to anything (except Netflix, because my family makes me) and splurged over quarantine and bought myself a NYT Food subscription. BEST DECISION. I use it all the time and find so many fantastic winner recipes on it. Plus- so great to scroll through recipes without pop-ups/ads everywhere!

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faith

Please talk to me about this zucchini! I have some that I need to use today and love this idea… do you literally shred and saute? Or do you drain first?

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Jenny

you should try to squeeze as much liquid out of the shreds as possible — I do this by wrapping and wringing in a dish towel. Then you go ahead with the sautéing…

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coco

already off to college? woo! so fast! I can’t imagine that happening to mine anytime soon, i’ll be sooooooo depressed.

it’s great that she runs with daddy, he looks so fit. I’m the runner in the house, I keep running hoping that I can do that with my girls when they are 20s.

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Kate

Off to college – wow! You must be feeling ALL the feelings now. But you should be so proud of the girls you raised – they both sound amazing. And, just look at that pasta!

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Julie

I have a Phoebe too. When we first started on DALS she was 5. Now she’s in 8th grade and yours is off to college. Life is strange and miraculous. Thanks for all the family dinners since then. Peace.

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Kandice

Oh my! I got teary-eyed just reading this! My daughter is still 9 years away from college, but I can feel your love and pain and desire to still know all that’s going on with her. Good luck to you in these next few weeks/months.

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Heather

Jenny, I am feeling all the feels with you as our eldest, our only daughter, is gratefully on a college campus as well. I actually squeal when I see an incoming FT call or a text, craving updates just like you. Trying to take it one day at a time, remembering that this is what I dreamt of for her. Your Phoebe will thrive too, because she has you!
Thank you for your work- I’ve learned from you and your cookbooks for years and our children will ask if a recipe comes “from Jenny.” (p.s. Emma’s last dinner at home included salmon as well)

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Megan

My five-month-old daughter started daycare this week and I feel the same way about the updates her daycare sends. Hard to believe I have a similar experience coming up 18 years in my future!

Thanks to Abby for the NYT pasta recipe rec!

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Jenny

Oh I remember those, too. I used to think of those dispatches as “the secret life of Phoebe” – it was hard to believe she (and her sister) had a whole life without me from 9 to 5.

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Kate

Dropped my girl off for first year last Saturday here in Canada – same situation with remote classes but at least she’s on campus. I feel mostly okay as I think she was ready for more independence. But I do find myself wandering in to her room several times a day and just standing there (it might be because it’s tidy for the first time in years!!!) and starting a zillion texts to her but then reining myself in and trying to let her reach out occasionally. The evenings feel long and boring without her constant chatter. And we ate the same meal for 4 days straight this week without our third to help us through it! Good luck, Phoebe!

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Kristin

I’ve also sauteed grated zucchini with no draining or wringing, and it was still good. So if you are feeling lazy, know that’s an option. I grate it and cook with onions, jalapeno, cumin, then add corn kernels at the end. Then mix it with shredded pepper jack and cilantro and put it in quesadillas. Delicious. I want to try this too.

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Melissa

Shout out for Phoebe Bridgers for being everything. My 12 year old daughter loves Phoebe as well, and I know that day when I take her to school isn’t so far off anymore.

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Julee

You did it! You made it!
I’m not talking about your blog or books or connections or anything but this: you’re a bona-fide mother who birthed, loved, fed, tended to- a human, and you did it so well, she feels brave enough to get out there into the world on her own.
Congratulations to all of you!

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Becky

When my daughter choose to stay in her university town for the summer after second year, people asked if I was sad. My answer-no because it means she is happy and is thriving and wants to spend time with people she has chosen to live with in a place she has chosen. That’s parental success in my mind. Two years later and her home due to covid- it is really nice to spend time with her too though.

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KB

What a beautiful post this is! For anyone interested, @ambermcreynolds of Vote Safe At Home is an excellent resource for voting facts as well. She is an expert in voting and works with election officials to create safe laws ( she has testified before congress, helped encourage alternate voting sites, etc.) and worth a follow to counteract any false and misleading voting info floated around.

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D.

I just came here to say: thank you for this beautiful content. You and the Cup of Jo team are like a warm hug and smile these days.

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Laura

I just hugged my two-year-old daughter tighter today. We have a baby boy on the way. You have literally saved my sanity over and over again, even before I had a baby. Thank you for someone knowing exactly what we want to eat, every time. Good luck to your first baby girl.

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Jennifer Simpson

Don’t forget that some of your fans and followers are voting for the president again. Maybe leave out the politics.

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KB

or she should be true to herself and include what is important to her family and so many of us – a true democracy with an honest, constitutional, ethical president who isn’t a racist, who doesn’t incite chaos and would actually care greatly that 200,000 lives thus far have been lost. If you go on to a personal blog you know what you are getting into. Go Biden!America and the world need you! Also, if you are a Parks and Rec fan @wisdems is holding a virtual reunion this Thursday.

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China

Jennifer, there is nothing more political than food, and last I checked freedom of speech was in the constitution. Frankly, if you are voting for Donald Trump I don’t think you deserve to read this blog. You may have phrased it politely, but the policies you support by voting for that man are about as far from polite as it’s possible to get. And you don’t get to vote for him “for the economy.” If you vote for him you are supporting all of it, from the blatant racism to the environmental degradation that may literally doom our children’s children, to putting babies in cages (and no, that did not happen when Barack Obama was president. Read an actual news source).

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Emily Martin

I made the pasta Saturday for a garden dinner with friends as a side to a grilled steak – wonderful! Served the remaining pasta on Sunday with leftover steak sandwiches and it was just as delicious. (And it was in the Sunday At Home section of the NYT!)

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Kim

This made me realize how long I have been following you! i’m just a few years behind with mine (so, tears, of course). Happy/sad for your and congrats to your daughter! may she always come home for family dinners….

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