Every evening when my husband Jim comes home from work, he flings open the front door, steps in, and calls out, “Where’s my family?” This is his version of “Honey I’m hooome”. If I’m lucky, I’ll just be getting dinner started when he walks through the door, but on this particular night, dinner was cooked and warming on the stove, and my son, my wine, and I were waiting for him. “Mmmm! Smells like Original Joe’s dinner,” I heard him say as he climbed the stairs. He was right! We were having chicken parmesan, meat ravioli in red sauce, and Caesar salad—exactly what we used to order every time we ate at that beloved San Francisco institution, Original Joe’s, before a fire closed it down in 2007.
My family loves that dinner. It brings back great memories and it’s like eating out, but in the comfort of our own home. It’s quite simple to make—especially the ravioli. I buy the little frozen ones at my supermarket (I prefer the smaller to the larger size). To make them, I bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the ravioli, and cook them until they just begin to rise to the surface. Into the colander they go to drain, then back into the pot. To the cooked ravioli I add regular canned tomato sauce and a big slab of butter, then let it simmer over medium heat until the butter melts. I add salt and pepper, a big handful of chopped parsley, and lots of grated parmigiano-reggiano. Then we dig in! —Julia Lee
I love eggs. Over the years I’ve eaten lots of them. For most of my life, the garden variety, supermarket white variety was good enough for me. But it was when my little son, Henry, started eating eggs that I began to pay attention to all of the different types available—brown, white, organic, free-range, cage-free, and certified-humane. I’ve tried them all, and while I did understand and support the ethics of raising animals humanely, all these eggs tasted the same to me. How could they taste the same when they were raised differently?
Then one day, while shopping at Whole Foods, I came across eggs labeled “pastured eggs”. Turns out pastured eggs, sometimes labeled “pasture-raised eggs” or “pasture-raised chickens”, are laid by chickens allowed to roam freely outside, with lots of sunshine and the wide open sky over their heads. They peck at bugs, worms, and grass and do what chickens do naturally. While free-range birds have access to the outside, conditions are often such that they never venture out the tiny door that leads them there. The important word to look for is “pasture”. I know my local farmers market (and most likely yours, too) carries pastured eggs, but I don’t always have time to get there so it was nice to see these exceptional eggs available at the supermarket.
I picked up a dozen on that day, and when I cracked the first one open, whoa! The yolk was perky and orange (!) and the white was high and tight. On appearance alone it stood out from every egg I ever seen. And the shells were much sturdier than the thin, crumbly supermarket eggs I was used to. I pierced the yolk with the tines of a fork and noticed how thick and sticky it was. I beat the egg, poured it into the puddle of melted butter in my skillet and cooked it just the way my son likes. A little salt and a little pepper, then I slid the egg onto his plate alongside a link of sausage, a shingle of toast, and breakfast was ready. My son came running into the kitchen, climbed up into his seat and looked down. He opened his eyes wide, “This egg is bright!” I smiled, so pleased that he noticed. “Now that’s an egg, huh?” I said. Makes sense that happy healthy chickens lay delicious healthy eggs.—Julia Lee