In my conservative estimation, I have made 4,128 meals for my two boys in a tiny galley kitchen in Brooklyn, New York. We set up shop after my divorce and for the next eight years they were with me week-on/week-off right through high school. That’s a lot of meatballs and spaghetti, macaroni and cheese.
When son #1 went off to college, we down-sized, leaving his younger brother and I in an even smaller flat for two years. At first we struggled to adapt. A mid-50s man and a 16-year old teenager as roommates? It could have been awkward or it could have been a Netflix series. In the end it became a new and enduring friendship, leavened by Law and Order: SUV, Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and late dinners six nights a week. My suburban friends seemed to dine with their kids around 6 or 7 p.m. Matty and I rarely sat down before 10, and 11 p.m. was not unusual either.
Now Matthew is off to college and I dine alone. He is a freshman in Vermont and among his other interests, he hosts a radio show every Tuesday at noon. Today happens to be my birthday and thanks to an urgent text from my son and the miracle of streaming, I remembered to listen.
He dedicated his entire program to the shared music of our lives, from the constant road trips across America to the summer holidays in France. He surprised me with one song that he recalls inspiring his love of music from the earliest age, and another that reflected his love of vocals and mine of jazz.
Ever wonder why you slave to get those meals on the table for your kids night after night? I know some parents consider it a thankless task. I look back on it as the single greatest gift I had to give. Each boy had his menu favorites. Matty was and is a ravioli guy. Some nights it was just a boiled packet of store-bought with a can of sauce. Others, while he was studying or doing vocal exercises in Italian for an upcoming choral concert, I’d take that extra few moments and spice up his favorite old standby. It wasn’t much work at all and the main ingredient was love.
Meat Ravioli En Brodo
• I packet of fresh-made or frozen meat ravioli
• 2 or 3 fresh carrots, sliced thin or diced
• 1 bag of frozen peas
• One 32 ounce container of chicken or vegetable broth
Set chicken broth to a rolling boil.
Add ravioli and cook for approximately 8 minutes until they float to top.
Sample one and when nearly done, add chopped carrots and 1 cup of the frozen peas to broth. Cook for 2-3 more minutes.
Serve the ravioli from a soup ladle, adding the ravioli and vegetables to a wide bowl. This is delicious with a thin drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.