Feb 1, 2010


On Friday I got the hankering to do some cooking. So I sat down with all of my Ina cookbooks and planned out the making of at least six hundred different tasty dishes and then decided to attempt Olive Garden pasta fagioli.

I should probably mention that a) I haven't had Olive Garden pasta fagioli in about ten years so I'm not exactly sure what's in it, let alone if I even like it, and b) there wasn't a recipe to be found in any of Ina's cookbooks for said Olive Garden pasta fagioli.

So on Saturday, Aunt Chrissy and I headed to the mega-mart, along with the rest of the state of Indiana. What does it say about a place that when the sun shines during the month of January, you would think it was the apocalypse the way everybody comes out and drives their cars as if a trip to the Home Depot would save the world? So it would seem that everybody decided to go to the grocery store at the exact same moment I did, and those everybodies got the hell in my way until Aunt Chrissy made me do breathing exercises in the soup aisle.

(For the record, I did NOT throttle the Granger housewife who knocked me out of my L.L Beans, rummaged through the chicken broth cans for an hour and then looked up and me and said "Do you need to get in here?").

(And, for the record, I did NOT get my New Jersey on and say to her "Whadda YOU think?!").

Instead, I stood behind her and glared so hard that I gave myself a headache. The foreign exchange student that was unlucky enough to be with this brawd gripped their cart in utter terror.

So much for making a nice impression on our national visitors.

Pasta fagioli, it turns out is remarkably simple to make. The version I came up with started with the Holy Trinity....celery, carrots, and onions, followed by some garlic at the last minute. (Ina says that if you put it in all together it will burn and become bitter, so I do as I'm told and add it at the last minute.) Then I dumped beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, chicken broth, red beans, white beans, nicely browned ground beef, and some spices.

Aunt Chrissy can't take spicy, so I sighed heavily and made it nice and bland for her with the understanding that I could add with impunity my own chili powder and cayenne pepper later.

This simmered for about three hours, and just as we were getting hungry, I boiled these little itty bitty ditali pastas and added them to the pot. Well....um.....I thought they were itty bitty, but the result was an increase in volume that was...um...rather unexpected:
Who knew that ditali pasta morphs into something ten times larger than what any normal person would expect?

Needless to say, I containerized TEN big quarts of the stuff and sent Aunt Chrissy home with four of them. I kept six in the fridge for dinners this week:
Oh, and did I mention that I didn't really even like this stuff? (Sometimes it's not easy being me.)

We had StudioPalooza in addition to our PastaFalooza, so I did manage to finish my very first ornament:
FaLaLa Ornament
All Dolled Up Series
Little House Needleworks
30ct. Weeks Dye Works linen
DMC floss and little red beads

I'm still not convinced that this thing will actually fit on a Christmas tree, but I won't make the final judgement until I get to the finish-finishing stage. I suppose that if it's too big I could make it into a stand-up or a pillow or something, but I'm not going to get twisted about it until the time comes. Stay tuned for some heavy glue gun action.

I tried and tried to kit up a new canvas piece last night, but I kept getting frustrated and jumbled over color selections. Aunt Chrissy peered at me a few times over her stitchy glasses to ask what was wrong, so in the end I decided to put it all away and stick a few stitches into the big red sunflower. Maybe I'll play with that one for a while to see how far I can get.

That's the Monday report from Chez Spinster, dearies! Cioa and cheerioes to all!


  1. You totally crack me up Coni! Love the past escapade story. I'm glad I wasn't in the Indiana grocery store!

    Very nice ornament finish. I agree with you, I don't know if they are too big for a tree. Maybe they would be better being door hangers or flatfolds.

    Have a good day!


  2. Sounds like the people in Indiana shop in the grocery stores the same way they do in PA....my favorites are the ones who park their carts on one side of the aisle and then stand in the other side...is ramming someone with a grocery cart punishable by law?

  3. Too funny! I was at the grocery today and it was a mess! Stockers were leaving boxes in the aisles, shoppers were leaving carts in the middle of the aisles - pure chaos!

    Your finish looks lovely!

  4. Oh my god, your ornament's a ditali. (Try for ditalini next time. They come out the size you would expect.)

  5. Your entertainment in the grocery store reminded me of an adventure I had last week. I picked out my (organic) beets and proceeded over to the produce man to have him cut the tops off. Yes, I know you can use the tops, but a) I don't want to clean them, and b) no one would eat them.
    Anywho, the nice produce man starts to cut the tops off when a young mom with her 2 young-ins comes by, decides she can fit her cart and her children in-between the 4 inces left between the produce man's cart, and the tomatoes. Getting the picture, are you?
    On the first try, she doesn't make it, so she starts ramming us over and over again. My finger is smashed, and the produce man is trying to move his cart, and keep the knife from cutting both our fingers off. Just as he gets his cart out of the way, she pushes the oldest young-in through and whips her cart around and goes the other way.

    I was speechless. And it wasn't even a weekend. Take full body armor to the grocery store, Coni!

  6. I'm glad that Aunt Chrissy was along with you to keep your name out of the headlines----LOCAL STITCHER FLOGS INNOCENT SHOPPER---

    Too funny---you didn't even really like the stuff..... Hope Aunt Chrissy liked it.

    Your stitchy finish is really great!

  7. I like it! Care to ship some back east?
    You are too funny, and so right on about the supermarket - especially pre-bad weather!

  8. Your ornament is the reason I have an artificial tree. It can hold huge ornaments without sagging! My finisher laughs at what I consider an ornament. Did I mention that the tree is 12 feet tall? It takes a boatload of ornaments to cover that tree! Even large ornaments!

    Where I live, you avoid the grocery store the day before bad weather is forecast. That day everybody and his brother is stocking up on bread and milk. And visiting in the aisles because who knows when you'll get out again. (I do live in the south so it's usually about 24 hours after the first snowflake falls).


  9. Oh, yes, grocery store boobs. Today a woman was fiddle-farting around in front of me three different times. I would find a way to wind around her, move on to another aisle, move on ... and there she was! Sheesh.

  10. Hi love reading your blog. I love stories of Stewey and the pictures you share. And just in case you want to give it another try (I understand you ended up not liking the soup) here is the Olive Garden's recipe... http://www.recipezaar.com/Olive-Garden-Pasta-E-Fagioli-Soup-in-a-Crock-Pot-Copycat-31717
    Happy stitching,

  11. You experience is one reason I refuse to grocery shop anymore. I'm very, very fortunate that DH loves to grocery shop for me. Plus he can find the best sales! I probably could rent him out to shop for others and make a bit of money to spend on stitchy stash. I cooked a crock pot of red beans and sausage this weekend...for warmth with the cold weather.

  12. I have the pattern kit ready to go for that ornament but I was thinking it looked really big too. I've never stitched over 1 but thought I might give it a go. Then I thought it might then be too small. Am I turning into Goldilocks?

  13. Great story! So glad it wasn't me!

  14. Coni: I am sure any/all mental health problems could be addressed easily with a visit to Dr. Phil.
    Stewey needs to blog with the good therapist to ascertain your readiness for such intervention.
    Call me irresponsible, but are you sure your elevator is ascending? Should you get off at some point for help????

  15. If you go to recipezaar and type in Olive Garden and Pasta Fagioli(pretty sure I spelled that wrong) and maybe "copycat" you will get a pretty close to the original recipe. There's even one for the crockpot. I boil the pasta separately and then when I want to freeze some it doesn't soak up all that tasty broth.