Hello, fellow campers, friends, and food lovers everywhere! Gourmet Girl Denise here from the beautiful Loire river valley, France.

Spring has come early here in the form of flowering trees but the weather remains quite cool. This year my Mirabelle plum tree, always the first to flower in March, bloomed its little heart out the second week of February. This is not good, as there were no bees out to pollinate the thousands of white flowers because it was still too cold outside. And that translates into few to zero fruit this summer. My apple and pear tree have not yet bloomed so there is still hope for them.  I am ready for warmer weather! Meanwhile, the Mimosa trees are all clad in their sunny yellow spring finery. My neighbor recently brought me a few branches.

Since the weather is still quite brisk, thoughts run to hearty meals, and what can be heartier than a bowl of pasta? This humble flour, egg, and water mixture can be made into so many different kinds of delectable creations by changing the sauce and the shape of the pasta. I recently made an old favorite; Pasta Carbonara. This is a simple dish to make and so very satisfying. For a vegetarian version, you can substitute sautéed mushrooms for the bacon. Here is a recipe for this creamy delight!

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA (serves 8 first course or 4 main course servings)

Cook in a large pot of boiling, salted water:

1 lb spaghetti or linguine

Meanwhile, combine in a small skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp:

2 tbls olive oil

6 slices bacon, chopped (you can use speck if you like)

Add: 1/2 cup white wine

Simmer until the wine has evaporated.

Beat together in a bowl:

3 large eggs

Salt and black pepper to taste

2/3 cup mixed grated Parmesan and Romano cheese (3 ounces)

Drain the pasta and return it to the hot pot. Immediately add the cheese mixture and the hot bacon and fat, stirring to coat thoroughly. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. Serve immediately.

I like to add fresh snipped chives and parsley to this dish before serving. You can also add chopped green onion and fresh peas if you like. Yum!

Tip: When you are getting ready to cook ravioli, don’t try to separate them before putting them in the boiling water. If you do you run the risk of tearing the ravioli and the filling will spill out. They will separate just fine once they are in the water.

Bon appetit!

Denise, Gail, and Lindsey


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