Something about vodka.

Catchy, right? Well it’s late – like, down to the wire kind of late – and this is the 30 day mark, so you know I’m not missing this one, and I thought a little extra attention-grabbing header might be in order, but “Something about sex toys” seemed off brand here.

So, vodka. And there’s an actual story about it, from tonight, that doesn’t even involve a cocktail but that is very much in keeping with all of the central themes from all of the posts, for nine years and a few months.

I spent today writing and revising and rewriting and editing a grant application. So much writing. All the way up to 6:45 (!), when I sent my daughter a text to let her know I was driving to the post office (to mail the grant application) and asking what she wanted for dinner. And yes, I was secretly, privately hoping she might say she wanted that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Chick Fil-A.

But instead she wrote: “vodka sauce??”

The backstory there is that she and a few friends had to prepare a meal for their class (I think? Or maybe mock trial? Who can remember…), and they cooked at another house, not ours, and the mom at that house is known for her penne with vodka sauce, so she taught the girls how to make it, and they all really liked it, because vodka sauce is delicious, even if you don’t like vodka, because vodka sauce has heavy cream and butter in it, and there’s not a single thing with butter and cream in it that doesn’t taste delicious, and that is a bankable true fact, even if it’s just my opinion.

I was reasonably sure that I had pasta and tomatoes and cream. And you know I have vodka. In the freezer. I do.

But I’ve never actually made vodka sauce, so I had to look it up (more on that, at the end).

My girl’s review of the end result? “Pretty good.”

That’s high praise, if you know my daughter.

While we were sitting at the counter enjoying our bowls of pasta (half penne, half wide noodles, because I didn’t actually have one whole package of any kind of pasta other than angel hair, and even an Irish-blooded woman like me knows angel hair pasta does not go with vodka sauce…), my girl asked me to help her tidy up and finish her college essay supplements.

That are due sometime in November.

Because she wants to go ahead and get them finished, because why on earth would anyone wait until the last minute?

So we worked on college essays, and worked some more, and then at 10:50 I said, “I have to go do this thing.” And my daughter said, “What thing?” And I said, “I made a commitment to write and post every day for 56 straight days.” And my daughter burst out laughing.

“What are you going to write, Mom, that you already spent the whole day writing and editing, with a break in the middle to cook me dinner?”

Well, yes, in fact, exactly that.

You know all those pretty blogs with pretty food photography and bloggers who have TO DIE FOR Instagram feeds? Well, this isn’t that, which surely you know already, but tonight just seals the deal.

This is a real photo from my real kitchen taken really, truly tonight as I made my first ever vodka sauce. Did I follow a recipe? Of course not. But I read several of them, and I’m posting the links to those, below.

For my sauce, I already had a head start, because I’d been to the market on Saturday and bought a bunch of scratch and dent tomatoes (meaning not pretty enough to go on the table), and I blanched, peeled, and cooked those tomatoes with some onion and butter and salt. And yes, I know you’re tired of reading about tomatoes. I’ll make it up to you in January, when I write about carrots and kale. (If you want more detail about making that tomato sauce, it’s toward the end of this post.)

Anyway, I had this lovely tomato sauce in my refrigerator. And while the pasta was cooking, I heated the sauce and used the immersion blender to break up the big pieces of tomato. Then I poured in some vodka, and no, I don’t know how much, but I’ll call it a cocktail’s worth. And I let that cook for a minute or two, to let the alcohol burn off, and then I whisked in some heavy cream until the color of the sauce looked right. I lifted the pasta out of the water and into this sauce, stirred it around, tasted it, added some salt, and served it.

The end.

(No; I didn’t add red pepper flakes. I was in a hurry and forgot. And it all worked out fine.)

Links to the Recipes I consulted

Rigatoni with Easy Vodka Sauce (bon appetit)

Penne alla Vodka (epicurious)

Penne with Vodka Sauce (Food Network)

Pasta Alla Vodka (New York Times Cooking)

This post is 30/56 in a self-directed challenge to write (or at least post) something (SOMETHING) every day – a birthday gift to me from me, because writing gives me a place to put the clutter that lives in my head.


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