Handmade, hand-sewn, home-cooked. They all conjure memories, images — real or imagined — of what childhood should feel like. And really, what we want a home to feel like. (Not a house, a home.)

But handmade things are sometimes — OK, always — imperfect. Knitted pieces have dropped stitches or are too tight. Hand-sewn items have stitches that are long or short.

And homemade meals may have a vegetable that’s a little past its prime, something under- or over-cooked, under- or over-salted.

It’s all OK. It’s enough — more than enough — to come home from a busy day, bring yourself to the kitchen and craft something out of habit, frugality and yes, love, for your family. It’s perfect that it’s not perfect.

So all you cooks out there making dinners for your families — you are more than enough.



2 bunches asparagus, ends cut or snapped off

3 tablespoons pesto

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine everything but the asparagus in a small bowl. Place asparagus in a roasting pan with sides and pour the vinaigrette over it. Roast for 13 to 15 minutes or until the asparagus is tender but still bright green. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.



The nuttiness of the whole wheat pasta complements the nutmeg and balances the bright lemon and asparagus flavors in this dish. As always, before a sauce gets combined with pasta, it should taste just a little saltier and more tart than you wish for the end result. Once mixed with the pasta, the flavors will mellow some.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 bunches asparagus, ends removed and cut into 1-inch lengths, about 6 cups

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 pound whole wheat penne

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and follow the instructions for the pasta. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter and add the asparagus and salt. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes or until the stalks are bright green but still crisp.

Add the nutmeg, lemon zest and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute and add the lemon juice. Remove from heat, add the cheese and stir. Adjust for salt and let sit while the pasta cooks. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds chicken breast, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 1/2 cups diced onions, about 1 medium

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 pound, cut into 1/2-inch lengths

3/4 teaspoon salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

3/4 cup white wine

3 tablespoons minced fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon dried

8 cups low-salt chicken broth

1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat.

Add the oil and then the chicken breasts.

Saute until the chicken turns white and is cooked through.

Add the onions and saute for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the onions become translucent.

Add the asparagus, salt and pepper and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the wine, basil and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately and garnish with parmesan cheese.

Serves 6 to 8.


Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: [email protected]


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