Pastina

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About half bag of a 16 ounce package of skinny egg noodles
(any noodle will work)
Milk
Butter
Eggs

1. Cook egg noodles al’dente and drain them.
2. Add about 2 tablespoons of butter into the same pot, you just drained the noodles from.
3. Put the noodles back in the pot on top of the butter. Add milk by starting with 1/ 4 cup to 1/ 2 cup or more depending on how you like your pastina either very dry to very moist, adding more milk to make it more moist.
4. Add between 1 to 2 eggs into the pot. Put the flame on medium and just mix it all up really well and stir continually until it thickens and starts to bubble a bit on the sides. (The eggs don’t have to be fully cooked. Look in the pot and when you like the way the eggs look, almost scrambled mixed up with noodles, than it is done.) I don’t make it too thick because it thickens after it sits there. Remember this is not a recipe you can leave on the stove and walk away; you have to watch it as it cooks.
5. Serve immediately and keep covered on the stove. May need salt.
6. ENJOY – I never had a recipe for this. Ma just showed me how to make it.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am honoring my mother by posting her Pastina recipe. Of all the recipes I’ve made, this is the one most requested by family and friends. Those who knew my mother lovingly remember her for her Pastina.

Pastina is a favorite comfort food for me and my children. It is the simplest dish to make; the ingredients are basic staples found in almost all kitchens: milk, eggs, butter and noodles. It isn’t rocket science, anyone can make it, and you can trust that it’ll taste good whether it’s cold, warm, sunny, or rainy! The first forkful instantly brings me back to our family kitchen with my mom at the stove, and I want to take you back with me…..

I remember “Ma” not only for her Pastina but for all the meals she made. My favorite week night would be the night she chose to make her meatloaf, mashed potatoes and corn – and without fail, it was on the table at 6:00 pm on the dot. My favorite Sunday meal always appeared at Ma’s table at 2:00 pm: homemade meatballs made with stale Italian bread and fried in olive oil paired with fresh raviolis that my dad picked up at the Italian pasta store in Astoria, Queens earlier that morning. Nostalgic images often run through my mind: of bread dough rising in pans covered with moist cloths on the radiators in the living room; homemade spaghetti sauce cooking on the stove and the special honor of being the one chosen to taste the one ravioli taken from the pot and having it dredged in Romano cheese to taste test for doneness; and so much more. I’ll never forget her incomparable buttermilk waffles with vanilla ice cream that would appear on a hot summer Friday evening as a very special dinner treat, dinner and dessert in one. I don’t ever remember her complaining about cooking, but I do remember her always being in the kitchen and always being around people. My heart is filled with memories of my mom cooking, my family sitting around the kitchen table eating dinner and the large family holiday parties my parents hosted.

OK, I’m not saying you’d find us in a Norman Rockwell painting, we were just a regular family having dinner. I wasn’t a good eater growing up and didn’t finish my dinner many times. My mom kept it on the stove and if I was hungry later, I got served that same plate. One time she served it to me for breakfast. You didn’t mess with my mother; she experienced deprivation during the Depression and remembered very well what it was like to be hungry. There was no wasting food in my house growing up, and I tried to instill the same lesson in my children. But there never was a problem for me eating when mom made me her pastina. It was the one dish I finished when it was served to me.

My Uncle Danny loved his wife, Suzie, as well as her cooking and baking. Shortly after she died years ago, we visited my Uncle Danny. I was a child, but I distinctly remember him telling my father, his brother, how he dreamt of Suzie the night before and she was holding a big pot of raviolis. Uncle Danny died within a year after Aunt Suzie. I never forgot that day and can still see him talking about that dream of his Suzie with such happiness and sorrow all showing on his face. I certainly understand Uncle Danny’s bittersweet feelings. I often think of my mom standing at the stove making Pastina, all the while feeling happiness for the memory and sorrow for the absence of Mom in my life.

So, I honor her memory this Mother’s Day by sharing some fond memories of “Ma”, and I hope you’ll find as much comfort when you dip your spoon into a big bowl of my Ma’s pastina!

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