Penne with Five Cheeses, Etc.

comments: 26

Cheesepasta1Yes, it really was all about Ina yesterday. Ina and Pamela Anderson (yes, that Pamela Anderson), whose novel Star I couldn't resist picking up yesterday while at the bookstore. She was on Ellen last week, cracking Ellen up -- I think Pam is pretty cute, even though her books won't be winning any awards, I daresay. But that's okay because I'm sending it to you when I'm done, Jeanne-Marie; those books you read are just too smart and this will be a nice, light read on your parents' deck. They don't call 'em beach reads for nothing. You can stand up and throw it in the lake when you're done. Anyway.

It was nice to have only one thing to do in a whole day, and that was "get the cookbook." Which I did; I got two, actually, the first two, as you recommended. They really are nice. I wish I'd had them before my party, but that's what always happens. Like, I go to San Diego for the first time, and it's really great, and then after I get home I get the guidebook and read about all the things I didn't see when I was there. Uh duh. That's how I felt reading the BC books, because they are full of helpfulness re: having a party. Now that I don't plan on having a party for a while, I feel rather prepared.

Cheesepasta3 After I got the cookbooks, I came home and looked through them, and picked something I thought I could handle, not feeling wonderful as I wasn't. I picked the Penne with Five Cheeses, because I just watched her make that on TV and it seemed like comfort food, though I probably would've been better off with hot and sour soup. (Didn't see a recipe for that.) Off the sofa and back to Zupan's. I've written before about how much I love Zupan's, I know. But I really do love them. In my efforts to support independent local businesses more often than not, Zupan's makes it easy. Small, well-edited, high-quality stuff that doesn't overwhelm me. Can you believe that the people who work there actually recognize me when I come back, and say things like, "How did you like that curry chicken salad, by the way?" (I loved it, for the record. Good good good.) All around me are friendly, familiar faces. The check-out lady actually came around the counter and hugged the old lady whose stuff she'd just bagged. (Apparently, she knew her, but still, it was very sweet.) They always play great music in there, too. It really feels like a neighborhood grocery store. It reminds me of the River Forest Market, the little grocery on Lake Street in RF, where my friend Jenny's family had an account for twenty years. How archaic is that. We'd go in there for smiley-face cookies after school and charge them to her grandmother's account. RF Market seemed to only have things like Pepperidge Farm cookies and Carr's water biscuits and beef ground in those long, marbled strings, piled into a gingham-printed paper container. Elderly women in boucle suits and fancy shoes tottered around, putting bananas and hams and bottles of club soda on account, requesting they be delivered later to their cool, doorman-fronted condos around the corner, on Ashland. When I'm at Zupan's, I feel very grown-up and a part of my neighborhood, I guess, the way I always wanted to feel. When I'm at Safeway, I feel very irritated that when they ask me if I "found everything alright" and I say, "No, actually," they pretend not to have heard me. I don't really know why they'd ask.

Cheesepasta5But anyway. Okay. Made the penne. I was going to make the sauteed spinach or a salad, too, but I got tired. You gotta love that moment where you put all those beautiful cheeses and tomatoes and basil in the bowl and they look pretty like that. You might sense that I am trying to become a better cook. I am. It started about a year ago, maybe nine months ago, when I became overwhelmed by the way our recipes were organized (or not organized). I bought some software called Big Oven, whereby you retype your own recipes into their data base, which automatically formats everything for you and also writes out grocery lists. They also have a huge library of recipes for you to use. I was really into it at first, but then it just seemed like too much work to retype all my recipes. I need to figure out a better system.

Cheesepasta4I think the pasta was really good, though since my nose was stuffed I actually only ate about fourteen noodles before I was finished and ready to hit the hammock with Star. I like the idea that cooking and eating dinner is something that could be a fun experience -- from shopping to preparing to eating it -- and not just something that has to get done, another chore, which is how I generally see it (especially the shopping part). My friend Sarah, who is a brilliant cook, says she sometimes goes to the market twice a day. I remember being shocked when she told me that -- she actually likes going grocery shopping. That was what got me thinking about things differently. I decided to try and become someone about whom someone else might say the same thing. And I think it's working. I'm really enjoying this.


Alicia, it all looks delicious!!! When you have time, you must try the Lemon Chicken of hers. YUM!

Yum, that looks so good! I love grocery shopping, or even better: going to the Farmer's Market! Such possibilities for the week ahead, the simple pleasure of making good food.

Wow! how tasty! BTW I have a great recipe for curry chicken salad . . . how did I live so long not knowing that curry and chicken were meant for each other?

Yummy spread! Ina got to you, huh?

I can relate to what you were saying about trying to develop a new attitude about shopping. My mom used to love things like going to the market, and stopping at roadside produce stands out in the countryside. She would get this sunny smile on her face, saw everything as a delight and a thing of beauty. Loved interacting with people.

Impatient and shy me would be like "Can we just get home so I can watch TV?!"

After she died, I missed her slower pace, her appreciation of the little things, her ability to be in the moment. I started emulating her, until I too saw beauty in the everyday, and was able to connect with strangers. I have absorbed some of her spirit, and that makes me miss her less :)

Ah... you reminded me recently of our screened-in porch. Now you remind me of having groceries delivered to our house. Frozen or cold items were left in the fridge in our garage. Nothing beats local business like that. The good ol' days.

Caroline says: June 04, 2006 at 12:57 PM

Finally, I've stopped lurking!

On Saturday I made Ina's Chocolate Chunk Cookies from her "Parties!" book - they are yummy, yummy gorgeous.

The penne looks great!

Oh my goodness!
You make me want to run out buy the cookbook, all the ingredients and a hammock.

Thanks for the inspriation…if only my town had a great market. ::sigh::

I am with the others. reminds me of when they delivered groceries and milk and things.... I sometimes wish we could go back to those days... talk about saving the US some gas... but in a world of instant gratification.. I think that world is lost forever.
Now, every day on me drive home I drive by a vegetable stand... I just love it! I miss it in the fall when he closes down : ( Kind of like the feeling I got yesterday as I pulled what was left of my lettuce out of the garden and planted squash and lemon cucumbers (heirloom variety.. they are AWESOME).
Your penne looks just delicious and better yet, you ate outside... aw, so jealous : ) We could eat outside, but we would have to fight the bugs and wipe streams of sweat off of our faces (the good old sort of midwest -- the part you miss sooo much

will you marry me?

so now the true nerd comes out - my husband and I ritually go grocery shopping on friday nights - because we like to. i know weird, but that's what we do!

That 5 cheese penne is one of my favorites from that cookbook. And the 3 types of chocolate cookies (in another book?) are the BEST. Even better made into an ice cream sanwich with vanilla ice cream!

makes me miss my old community grocery store...small and manageable, nice stock clerks, gingham meat papers and lots of 'seniors' behind the meat counter...i loved it there.

and that recipe computer program sounds like torture. I love going through my mom or grandmother's recipe box full of recipes cards that are so old, they've become soft to the touch, trying to decipher the handwriting that's been smeared by water and stains--how much flour does that say? usually its the same ingredients that are in the dish that are splattered about the card. I'd hate to get my recipes all neat and tidy from a computer print-out. I can see why you quit the program!!

Beautiful post - as usual! After moving back to the states from Italy, I tried tirelessly to recreate some of our favorite meals and they were never quite right. Frustrated, I moved away from Italian cooking for a few months – reflecting on it I was too concerned with the authenticity and not enough with pouring my heart into the dish. Now I fix my favorite – penne al salmone (with a heavy creamed garlic sauce! – yum!) about once a month – and though there is little better than sitting on your porch overlooking the Mediterranean while enjoying such epicurean delights, there is a quiet pleasure in recreating it at home. And was that Caprese on the table? Oh how I love drowning that in olive oil and balsamic!

Here is what I do to organize my recipes- I put them all in plastic sheets and organize them in a binder. That way I can find what I want quickly and when I take the recipe out of the binder and start cooking and get food on it, you just wipe it off!

Looks so delicious!

i just watched that episode too! it looks scrumptious, and i must say that book in the hammock is a much better ending than movie in the theater.

First off, I am so glad to know you are not above picking up a Pamela Anderson "novel", second of all, miss know I love that woman, pinch her cheeks kind of love. Not afraid of a little butter, so she's aces to me. You have to try her cheddar corn chowder recipe when cold weather hits, its amazing.

That looks delicious! I want to look like Pamela Anderson, sort of. Did you ever watch Stacked? Not bad, actually. Anyway, I only really like grocery shopping when I'm shopping for one meal and I have my one list. It all feels exotic and special. When I'm just going for everyday things, it's not as much fun for me.

Oh my now my stomach is growling and I'm drooling on my keyboard. Good thing it is lunch time! Maybe I'll swing by B&N and check out the cookbook.

Alicia, it looks so good! I hope you are feeling better. I used to spend so much time cooking elegant meals for the two of us that I would never get anything done. It's addicting! I only cook a few times a week now and I try not going into the grocery store more than once a week. I too used to shop sometimes twice a day. Enjoy your new cooking adventures!

I love that penne recipe. It is a great one for entertaining. (...and I love Big Oven.)

YUM. looks great! Im not a huge fan of Ina - but i may have to give her more attention.
I sorely miss Zupans ( and trader joes.)

I like Andy's shirt. Of course.

how funny - so many bloggers have been doing up this recipe of late. and it seems that the adoration felt by you towards both ina and nigella is in good company as well. the other night i made (my lighter version of) this recipe as well as baked some nigella muffins. and then i went and sewed for a while.
all hail the renaissance women - we cook, we craft, and we enjoy it!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.