Pasta, Panna Cotta, & Post-Grad Pondering

After four glorious years in the Bulldog Nation, I done graduated. I’ve been a University of Georgia alumnus for a solid week now.

It’s a strange feeling… not knowing what’s next and such. But before I’m too entrenched in sorting that out, I wanted to stop for a second and look back and what’s behind.

Lists are my best sorting device, for tangible items as well as not so tangible items… like feelings and thinkings that need to go somewhere. I originally thought about pulling together a list of all the things I’ll miss about college.

Then I realized how dumb that would be. What good would any such list do for me or anyone else? Instead, I’m throwing out a list of the more valuable lessons I’m taking away from college. Bear with me.

1.) Learning is hardly confined to a classroom or a textbook.

I finally learned how to make fresh pasta a last week, with the kitchen as my classroom and one of my best culinary companions as the instructor. Point being, find opportunities to continue learning any and everywhere. You may just enjoy one of the most delicious meals of your life as an A+ reward.

2.) Regardless of where you go and what you do, there will always be people who are prettier, funnier, smarter, cooler, better at baking cookies than you.

Doesn’t matter. Do you. Do the best you you can possibly do, and you’re golden.

All those people who seem to be insanely more talented than you… don’t hate on them, make them your best friends. Surround yourself with positive people who are doing really cool things, and you’re going to find yourself raising your own bar with a stellar team to cheer you on. It all comes back to peer pressure.

3.) If you wash take-out and baked goods down with beer for a prolonged period of time, you’re inevitably going to pack on pounds.

That said, there are scarier things than having to clean out an entire drawer of pants that can no longer make it over your badonk. I should know, I faced one of those drawers just yesterday. I’m still alive. Weight can be lost.

4.) If you try to hold others to your rule book, you’re begging for trouble.

5.) Just because like five new engagements pop up in your Facebook news feed everyday doesn’t mean you’ve missed the boat if engagement isn’t slapped at the top of your current to-do list. Calm down, this too shall pass.

6.) Let struggles make you stronger, not bitter.

7.) Don’t write anyone off before you get to know more than what they offer at your first meeting.

The guy you didn’t want a second date with might end up being your first love.   Junk happens.

8.) You won’t always get out what you put in. But you’ll never get anything out if you don’t put something in.

Except for on those freak days when someone leaves money in the coke machine.

9.) Nights you find yourself still awake when five am rolls around… those are the nights you either really love your life or really hate it.

If you’re not in the bed by three, you’re taking a leap of faith.

10.) If you have the chance to brighten someone’s day, take it. You won’t regret it.

Hint– you likely have that chance everyday.

11.)Even if you’re under the impression that you’re having a great night, you never ever ever want to be the person who is physically carried out of a bar. Especially when you’re dad is waiting in the car. Avoid being that person at all possible costs.

12.) If an opportunity sounds stellar, pursue it. If you really want something, pursue it. Have a gut-wrenching hunch? Pursue it.

You won’t catch them all, but it sure can’t hurt to try. ((Hopefully))

13.) Love your family intensely. No matter how much they make you want to smash plates on walls.

P.S. Your family isn’t restricted to your bloodline.

14.) Days, weeks, years… they fly fast. Good news being that there are supposedly ways to slow them down. I’ll let you know when I find one. Here’s hoping.


From what I can tell so far, living a good life runs a lot like making good pasta . It takes practice. And it takes effort. The bulk of it demands flexing your muscle and might, over and over and over. Eventually it all becomes more smooth and flexible.

Of course, every now and again,  rewards effortlessly come along, simple and sweet. And praise God for those little victories. Because really, what is life without dessert?

Lemon & Zucchini Tagliolini 

  • 400 grams fresh tagliolini pasta
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 lemon
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper

Mince the shallot, then wash and grate the zucchini with the largest holes on your grater. Mince a handful of fresh parsley. Heat the butter in a large skillet and saute  the shallots and zucchini until soft and fragrant, toss in the parsley and remove from heat.

Beat the egg yolks from the zest and juice from one lemon, freshly grated parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup, salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in salty boiling water for 1 to 3 minutes (for fresh pasta) or until al dente. Strain, reserving the pasta water, and place pasta in the pan with the zucchini mixture, pour the lemon sauce over top and toss quickly to incorporate, adding pasta water by tablespoonfuls as needed to bring the sauce to desired thickness. Serve with additional parmesan cheese and garnish with roasted cherry tomatoes if desired.

Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • 1/2 pint heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatin

Simmer the cream with the sugar and the scrapings of the vanillas bean for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the gelatin in 2 tablespoons cold water and beat into the cream. Pour into 4 small ramekins and chill for 3 hours until set. Serve with fresh berries.

*To make fresh berry sauce, purree berries with lemon juice, water, and sugar to taste.


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