The Bee and the Penne

comments: 69


Good morning, dear friends! Good morning. I am up early. I couldn't sleep past about 3ish. Outside our open bedroom windows, a cat comes yowling unhappily, almost every night, starting at 2 a.m. This cat is quite possibly our cat, who refuses to come in at 10 p.m., when it's actually time to go to bed. I swear she can hear me stirring at the sound of her yowling. It's like having your brain scratched with a piece of rusty aluminum. You sort of don't know what is going on; you only know that you are irritated. She's right under the window. She yowls like she'll never be happy again. It only lasts a few minutes — not long enough to force anyone to get up and do something about it — and then she stops, and apparently goes somewhere else. But then she comes back, just as you begin to fall asleep again. This is the Bee's new thing for 2008, I guess. What's so irritating is that if she is in the house when everyone goes to bed, inevitably she'll want to go out at some point during the night, and then she'll come into the bedroom, and walk all over your face, or knock everything off of your nightstand, or drink your water with her back feet on your hair, or run several times as fast as she can down the length of your body. Closing the door does no good — you might be amazed at the sound a six-pound cat can make throwing itself at an old door. Girl, you're driving me nuts. Let's talk about pasta.

Penne Rigate with Spinach and Garlic Cream Sauce
from the Oregonian, several years ago

2 T unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
14 oz trimmed (stems removed) fresh spinach
1¼ c heavy cream
Large pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 t lemon juice
1 lb penne rigate pasta
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 1½ c grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter over medium heat in large saucepan; add garlic and, stirring frequently, cook until very soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach to pan, sprinkle with ½ t salt, cover, and increase heat to high. Cook, stirring once or twice, until spinach is fully wilted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Using tongs, firmly squeeze spinach to remove as much liquid as possible and transfer to a bowl. Pour out exuded liquid (but not any bits of garlic) and return spinach to saucepan. Return pan to burner, add cream, and reduce heat to medium-high. Simmer until cream is reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, nutmeg and lemon juice to taste.

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, return pasta to pot, and toss with sauce, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

This is really good. To be honest, I used a pound of frozen chopped spinach and it was just fine. Delicious, in fact. When the tomatoes are good, it would be nice with a small handful of really good diced Roma tomato sprinkled on top. A note on the recipe indicates that you should make sure to salt your pasta-cooking water liberally, and I would agree with this; also, be sure to use penne rigate — the penne with the ridges — so that the sauce really clings.

Oops, I just fell asleep for a sec.


that is TOO HILARIOUS. I love my cat, but she can be the most irritating thing while I'm sleeping. And if I forget, and leave my sock/underwear drawer open? Penny finds socks I haven't worn in years. Damn cats.

Linda S. says: May 27, 2008 at 07:55 AM

I can fully sympathize with your
irritation with the Bee. My cat Simon must be her spiritual twin.
He too will walk on me or place his rather large paw on my face to wake me up in the middle of the night. Why on earth am I sleeping when I could be petting him ? He also does the meowing / throwing himself at the door bit
if I shut him out of the room.
My sister lives downstairs from me (we have a duplex) and Simon loves to lurk in her hallway and rush in there when she opens the door. My sister has two elderly cats, in the twilight of their years. Simon loves to chase them about ( he's a year old) and more or less terrorize them. My sister is not amused.
BTW I love your blog and read it regularly. You are so creative - I especially like the bag you just made.

wow this recipe sounds scrumptious. i like when all the true life details are already figured out in a newspaper recipe. like the person actually has made it and perfected it... like the squeezing the spinach and placing on a towel. and you of course are a fantastic taste tester for us all! the bee...this is a behavior of cats that make me think i might go start raving mad when it goes on and i hear it. our own sweet but long dead Ruby used to have all sorts of cat problems at night that included much of the noise you are describing...only i think it was other cats threatening and terrorizing her. how could i sleep and let that pass i ask you? your description of the early morning in the house antics is perfect and any cat owner will be nodding their heads in complete and exasperated recognition.
your friend, bird tweet robin from down the road

We have lots of fun at my house,too.
The kitten curls up nicely in the curve of my knees, but if I dare move, he's up and attacking my feet. Which leads to me using my legs to sweep him off the bed, at which point, my 100# dog joyfully & noisily chases him across the wood floor and attempts to corner him to play...
The recipe sounds great. You could use broccoli florets, if your family doesn't like spinach.

Yummo! We had a similar experience. I made a green pasta dish and I have a cat with the same habits. Kali meet Bee, Been, Kali. Ugh... she'll do the same thing under our bedroom window. She will also sit at the basement window and rip apart the screen making this horrific sound. It's a little embarrassing to see our back door screen, the front door screen, the basement screen. All thanks to little miss kitten. The worst of all when she's at the back door and scratches with metal part of the screen door - like fingernails on a chalkboard. I wonder how many nightmares she's created in my slumber. Like you when she's in the house she'll claw the bed, she'll sit and stare and meow loudly, she'll open the sliding closet door and then start ripping open shoe boxes or claw at them. She used to open my dresser drawer and pull out all my underwear. For some reason that stopped. She used to drink my water too but now I have a Sigg and she has a hard time getting on the bed. She's getting old and the bed is higher.This is why we all love many of the Simon's Cat cartoons - Hope you get some sleep girl!

LOL... I will resist sharing my cats' antics; suffice it to say, "I can totally relate!"
Sounds as though you may be in need of a *cat nap.* Sweet dreams.

A cat with issues? Perish the thought! LOL

I have two cats. 'Nuff said.

The pasta looks delish!

It must be a cat thing...if I do not get up in the morning and feed Mr. Gray exactly when he wants...he will start clearing my nightstand of items and stand on me. At 17 pounds it can be quite painful. Needless to say it works, he gets his food.

He also just meows out of the blue in the house. He doesn't go out...but I think he dreams of it. Better luck with the Bee! I think I am officially Mr. Gray's servant and he has trained me. LOL

The pasta looks soooo good. Can I come over?

Paula :)

I was afraid this was going to be a pesto recipe, which I am not a fan of, but this looks delicious!

Chris Howard says: May 27, 2008 at 08:37 AM

Our cat Mulder was a night time pest too. We mostly just shut him out of our bedroom (he's strictly an indoor cat), but he would beat on the door and yowl all night long. The only thing that really solved the problem was getting another cat for him to curl up with at night.

Good luck with Ms. Bee!

The cat story reminded me of my black cat that decided to do similar things to me at night. My bed was by a window at the time,and I was hugely pregnant with my first daughter. She would want in and out a million times,and I was the only one who seemed to hear her doing this,so I had to get out of bed with my big belly to let her in then out,then in again...!!After a few nights of this, we decided to sleep on the sofa bed in the living room to break this habit. It worked thank god!! Cats can be little devils in disguise huh?!

just to expose how dependent I've become upon your blog for cheer and comfort, I'm here, typing a comment 10 minutes before my master's thesis defense. Thank HEAVEN for you, Alicia, you're such a ray of sunshine.

and I COMPLETELY feel you re:stupid cat. Mine has been ALL OVER me lately. Sleeping next to me, running all over me in the morning - today, after waking me at 6am (I was actually sleeping pretty well...until my early-morning wakeup, then my stomach dropped and the hands started to tremble a bit), she decided to curl up on my pillow by my head.

must be something in the air.

well, into the lion's den I go. thanks for the cheery send-off!

It's good to know that someone else's cats are just as strange and fickle and annoying as mine. Actually maybe, all cats are wierd and annoying, it's part of their charm... One of mine spent the entire night hogging the bed whilst the other decided to scare my partner into getting the ladder out at 1am by parking herself on the living room windowsill, which is one storey up, and not managing to get herself down. They both sound like they are from the West Country - something from a Thomas Hardy novel with all the "narp" and "yarp" ing they do! However anooying though, I wouldn't be without them x

Mmmm. That looks wonderfully tasty. I will most definitely be trying this recipe soon.

Mmmmm...sounds yummy! And WHERE did you get that CUTE pasta bowl?

We can relate to nocturnal cat antics. Purrkins has taken to sleeping on my pillow. Fortunately I usually have a spare, except for times like last night when Mike decided that he needed 3. When this happens, I usually find the third one on the floor or down at the foot of the bed. The ruckus begins when Graycie decides that she should join Purrkins at the head of the bed. Washing ensues, and we all know what that leads to. Nothing like a cat fight on your pillow to disrupt a good night's sleep!

My dog Simon says he'd be happy to solve your noisy, early-in-the-am-Cat issues. A good, bracing chase into the next county would do the trick. He does it frequently with a silver tom and a tabby that frequent our property and caterwaul all night. Our own cat finds it greatly amusing, and finds the whole scene delightful as he washes his paws while observing the fast-shrinking figures of Simon and the stranger cat vanishing over the horizon.

Oh my! I want me some of that penne garlic spinach stuff. It looks and sounds so good. Sorry 'bout the cat thing. Maybe you could try sleeping with ear plugs.

'Tis the season for Kitty Spring Fever. My cat Harry (huge, white, hairy boy) sticks his lips under my bedroom door at the crack of dawn and starts saying, "Mom." I swear to God.

Luckily, 'tis always the season for pasta!


Frozen chopped spinach is one of my favorite things! It's one of those few rare veggies that seems to really take to freezing. I had some frozen asparagus the other day that was so, so awful, I wanted to kick someone.

this is why i only have dogs; however, they can be equally annoying, especially if there's a thunderstorm (imagine a hyperventilating aussie pawing at your head), and they're much larger!

pasta dish looks good.

any updates on your reading, after all those suggestions we gave you?

I can empathize, my cat has started this crying thing too. Outside..inside it doesn't seem to matter where he is and no amount of bribing will make him quiet.
Thanks for the recipe, looks so yummy!

Oh goodness! I am definitely making this tonight!

My very old kitty Oliver (now 21 and still perking and purring right along, bless him) and I have a nightly routine which consists of his standing on my hair and meowing until I wake up, at which point I stagger off to the kitchen, open a fresh can of wet food for him, and stagger back to bed. After his meal, he uses the kitty box, then climbs into the shower to drink from the leaky tap, and then back to bed. During this whole time he must yell at the top of his lungs. At approximately 4 am. Every night. No holidays, no weekends excepted.

If I ignore him he resorts to hair pulling, nose biting, and once even bit my big toe. He makes "mmph, mmph, RURR, RURR, mmph, mmph" noises until I just can't ignore him anymore.

Poor old guy can't eat dry food, and a fellow gets hungry in the night. I can forgive him because after 20 years of unconditional Oliver love, I can do this one thing for him.

We will not speak of his evil younger sister Maggie.

deirdre says: May 27, 2008 at 12:33 PM

I've ended up having to close the doors at night 'cause we have four cats and only a double bed. Himself on his side and me and the moggies on the other. In the end I was pinned down and couldn't move.
So for your amusement:

Hi Alicia...I love the cat story! Our cat, "Goldie", sleeps right next to my husband's head...When I come to bed, she looks at me, as if to say, "What in the (expletive) are YOU doing here?"...If I have any alone time with my husband, I have to remove Goldie from the room!
I wish I were as into cooking as you are...I'm sure my husband would love it...Maybe someday, when I'm not sewing and gardening all the time!...Katie

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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.