Last week I made this comforting kielbasa with creamy mustard pasta, a combo that goes together like peas & carrots, Romeo & Juliet, and Netflix & wine. The story doesn’t have much to do with the recipe except it’s something I’d share if we sat together at my table and passed around this hearty pasta dish. So imagine this blog is our table and there’s a plate for you and one for me.
In a hurry? It’s all good. Click “skip to recipe” above to get the details. Want to pull up a chair? Great! Let’s dig in…
Asked recently how things are going I replied, “It’s like I’m learning to drive a stick shift after years of driving an automatic. Herky-jerky uncertainty punctuates my life.”
Driving a stick shift is tricky business and one I never mastered. My first attempt, approximately 30 minutes after I earned my learner’s permit, left my mom and I stalled out half way up a hill in a silver Jeep Cherokee. We rolled backwards and in confusion I kept turning the wheel until we bumped up over the curb into our neighbor’s yard. At the last moment I hit the brakes, leaving the car to rest inches from a tree. For a few moments we sat in silence. I marveled at the sidewalk I’d driven over while my poor mom sat frozen in a position of self-protection with her feet planted on the dashboard. Days later, my second attempt, on an empty road with no trees in sight, ended in a ditch. Needless to say, there were no more stick-shift lessons with my mom.
One of my brothers took matters in his own hands confident he could teach me. We folded ourselves into his blue Honda Civic and it was sort of okay until a wayward bicyclist intruded on my path. And by wayward, I mean a person riding responsibly alongside the road. Her straight line path intersected with my swerving one, scaring the bejesus out of both of us. The bicyclist escaped unharmed (with only a lifelong phobia of blue cars, I suspect) and my brother declared my stick-shift driving abilities a lost cause.
Twenty-four years later I still can’t drive a stick shift.
And now my life, after many years in automatic mode, feels like series of starts, stalls, and awkward transitions. I’m back in that Jeep, hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, uncertain of what to do next and hoping and praying the car doesn’t stall in the middle of an intersection.
But I refuse to default back to automatic. Between the awkward shifting, starts and stops, and air of strangeness that accompanies change, there have been moments of smooth sailing. Moments when I effortlessly shift into a higher gear and pick up speed. Simple moments like a sunset, all pink and rosy with streaks of red, reminding me to breathe and look around. Tackling leftover boxes from my move, for months sitting half unpacked, with a revived motivation to deal with it, ‘it’ being potential memories that I once wanted to bury, but now can face. Sometimes the gears stick and it’s difficult, but other times it’s not and I fly through the boxes empowered.
And it’s in the kitchen I feel the smooth transition of the gears the most. I am awake with a confidence that guides my actions and an instinct for what comes next and what to do if something goes wrong. It’s these moments that give me strength to navigate the more challenging ones and I suspect that with time those herky-jerky moments will also smooth out. I will shift into them with more confidence and less fear.
It’s a lot, all the this change, but for the first time I’m shifting with intention and, despite uncertainty, it feels right. Sometimes it works other times it doesn’t, and while the car parked in my garage will always be an automatic (bicyclists everywhere can rest easy), in life I’m gonna keep grinding those gears until I figure it out.
Kielbasa with Creamy Mustard Pasta
And while I’m figuring things out there’s no better place for me than the kitchen. This kielbasa with creamy mustard pasta, the result of a particularly great day in the kitchen when the motions were fluid and the thoughts all made sense, started with a simple idea: a smear of mustard on a slice of sausage. It’s a classic combo so I thought, why not make it dinner?
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
10 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
30 minTotal Time
Dijon has a bite and a little goes a long way for me, but if you would like it extra zingy consider increasing the mustard by a teaspoon or so.
More Creamy Pasta Dishes