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Change is scary, and a really great asparagus pasta

About six weeks ago, quite out of the blue, a couple of producers from CTV asked to meet with me for breakfast. Flash forward to two days ago, my last day at Maclean’s, where I said good-bye to some of the best and brightest writers, editors and designers working in the country today.

I’m now on Day 2 of a three-week vacation before I start a new job as the digital correspondent on a new CTV television show called The Social that will air in September.

On Thursday, I spent the morning recovering from good-bye drinks with my colleagues, which ended at a karaoke bar on Yonge St. They also presented me with my very own Maclean’s cover.

Screen shot 2013-05-31 at 11.16.47 AM

Wonder Woman was an important part of my childhood, which the cover’s designer, my good friend Stephen, knows.

Wonder Woman

I was deeply touched.

Then I washed my duvet. Then I checked Facebook and Twitter every five minutes to see what was happening. Then I ate a scone and bought some groceries for a pasta dinner–penne with Ontario asparagus, prosciutto, parmigiano and mint–that I was going to make the Beast when he got home from work. Then I made three trips to the corner store and lugged home plants for the patio. Then I planted the plants.


I called my mom and also spoke for the first time in over a year to my friend Michelle in Italy.

When the Beast came home from work, I felt less anxious and less restless about, you know, just about everything.

Foodie: How did everyone like your outfit today?

Clashing patterns

Beast: I got a lot of “Wows”and “You look so…summery!” One lady said I looked like a tourist with all the conflicting patterns and I said, “I look like an asshole.” If I saw somebody on the street dressed like this, I’d say he was fucking asshole.

Foodie: I just can’t imagine how you settled on this. Like, what goes through your head right before you put this on?

Beast: I was listening to The Buzzcocks. Anyway, I do think this outfit really underlines the fact that Leaside doesn’t get me. Don’t you think  cherry tomatoes would be good in this pasta?

Foodie: No, I want to keep it bianco.

Beast: Me too, only because I love that word, biano. Molto bianco! Do you prefer the laconic me, who refuses to pronunciate foreign words with an accent, or the me who really goes over the top with the accent? Like Say-cra du print-emps or Sacre du printemps!!!!

Foodie: [Silence]

Beast: It’s the 100th anniversary of Sacre du printemps, you know. Do you know that Ray Brown was married to Ella Fitzgerald for about five years?

Foodie: Who is Ray Brown?

Beast: Uh, he’s the bass player we’re listening to right now.

The pasta was so good that we declared it fit enough for company.


This morning the Beast asked me if he should go “Yale or more, you know, Côte d’Azur?” I suggested the latter.

Cote d'Azure

He’s at work now. I’m supposed to be using this time off between my old job, where in five glorious years I learned from an incredibly patient and talented crew how to write for a magazine, and the new one, where I’m certain I will learn many new things, to work on a creative project that I’ve been “working on” since 2002. The Beast, who’s been so supportive and encouraging, recommended that I avoid opening up all my old notebooks and countless drafts that’ve accumulated over 11 years of “working” on it.

He says I should just start writing.

As you can see, it’s going really well so far.

In case you want to make the asparagus, prosciutto & mint penne:

Get a pot of water boiling for your 500 g of penne. Meanwhile, take two bunches of asparagus and cut the bottom inch or so off while they’re still bundled (a time-saving trick, rather than snapping off the end of each stem individually.) Then cut up the bunches into two-inch segments. Throw those into a bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Either roast these in an oven, which I did, or sauté them over high heat in a big pan. (I roasted them so that I could use a pan to fry up prosciutto, which I cut into little strips, and to save time. I know this doesn’t make sense but it did while I was making dinner.) Get that prosciutto good and crispy. Set it aside. In that hot pan, add your asparagus and about a 3/4-cup of white wine. Let that reduce. When the penne is ready, drain it (but reserve a cup of starchy water) and add it back to the pot. Then add the asparagus, the prosciutto, a whole whack of chopped mint, and as much finely grated parmigiano as you want. Stir it and add enough starchy water until it becomes creamy. Split into two bowls if you’re a gluttonous pair, or four if you have company. Enjoy.

10 replies »

  1. I’ve been out of the loop out here in the Pacific, but just seeing all these #goodbyes.
    Now I know.
    Congrats congrats you wonder woman you!!

  2. Wonderful post. I love the magazine cover. STAY CALM AND DRINK TEA Enjoy your holidays and good luck on your new endeavours.
    Uncle Ron

  3. Absolutely wonderful blog, Jessica. I loved it. And I have to agree with The Beast on his opinion of his wardrobe.
    Oh, and heartiest congratulations on the new gig.

  4. I am so incredibly excited for you and not at all surprised. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the world discovered how great you are!

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