Believe or not, another year is about to end and in less than a week we will all be celebrating Christmas with our families and friends, eating pantagruelian meals and unwrapping presents. A yearly rite that fills the air with a positive sense of love and gratitude and that has the power to make people more sensitive and thoughtful than usual.
I really like Christmas, although at moments it also makes me feel a bit melancholic and I can't help think about what I'm about to leave behind and what will come next. Obviously, nothing truly changes on the 31st of December, it is us who give a symbolic value to this date, but I find it essential to, at some point, draw a line and consider what we have achieved, learned and experienced and look deep inside ourselves and decide what we want to keep, what we want to discard and the direction we wish to embrace. A sort of excuse to stop for a moment and listen to our inner self, and maybe make decisions that will make us happier or even change our life.
What strikes me is how fast time goes and how many things actually happen, things I don't seem to notice in my everyday life. Every year I get to know -and accept- myself more, but every year I also discover something new about myself, a passion, a weakness, a personality trait I had no idea was there and could be so strong. Every year I also get to know -and accept- my dear ones a little more, and whenever I think of them and the moments spent together, my heart melts.
Maybe it's Lucio Dalla's song playing on the radio that's making me so emotional, but anyway, while I ponder all these thoughts, I'm sitting in the kitchen, with a pen in one hand and a notebook in the other, ready to draft my new year's resolutions. I'm waiting for the water to boil so that I can cook two generous portions of ravioli stuffed with ricotta and artichokes, today's recipe.
I'm making ravioli for Vito, as it is traditional for him to have fresh pasta in this period of the year (his mother was from Modena and would make tagliatelle and tortellini, but the latter are way too complicated for me and I don't have the machine for tagliatelle, so I'm sticking with simpler vegetarian ravioli!).
Ive always seen fresh pasta as a festive dish, as it takes time and I don't make it that often. But pasta-making is actually a lot easier than it seems and it's a real stress-releasing activity, which I would recommend to anyone in need of doing something creative and rewarding. Not only do you use your hands, you also get to taste the result of your hard work. My tip is to use one egg every 100 gr of flour and add one yolk at the end, and also it's important to knead the dough well and with energy, but being careful not to 'heat' it (spoiling the whole thing...). White 00 flour is soft and ideal for this preparation, but if you prefer using a whole wheat/spelt or rice flour the proportions remain more or less the same. Add warm water if it seems too dry, or add flour if it feels too sticky.
Anyway, going back to our resolutions, I'm keeping mine realistic and achievable. The plan is to draft two lists, one private and with extremely specific goals, and another more general, which should function as a memorandum and will look more or less like this:
1. STAY FOCUSED ON YOUR GOALS
Invest and believe in yourself and don't let external factors get in between you and your objectives.
2. DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
If you don't want to do something, then don't do it. Full stop.
3. LEARN TO GIVE THE RIGHT IMPORTANCE TO THINGS
Sometimes taking a distance from something/someone can be the best thing we could do, and we should not allow other people's negativity influence our mood and spirit.
4. LEARN TO UNWIND
Learn to appreciate doing nothing, relaxing far from electronic devices, social media and other distressful apps.
5. NURTURE IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIPS
Make time for the people you care about and want in your life and water the plant of love everyday. When it's time to argue and confront opinions, do it, but when it's time to make peace... make peace!
Five simple guiding principles for the coming year, which I'll print and stick on my fridge. What about you? Do you have any particular ritual or practice you do every year? Please let me know, I'd be happy to learn about it!
RECIPE: RAVIOLI STUFFED WITH RICOTTA AND ARTICHOKES
Cook Time: 8'
Ingredients (for 22/24 ravioli):
- Fore the pasta
250 gr. 00 flour (or you can replace it with whole/spelt/rice flour)
2 free range eggs + 1 yolk
a pinch of salt
- For the filling:
130 gr fresh cow's milk ricotta
a pinch of salt
black pepper and sage to garnish