No Substitutions Please

by | May 15, 2024 | Blog, Life Lessons, Stories | 0 comments

Recently, Amelia inquired about the noticeable pause in my blogging activities. I took a moment to reflect on her question. Blogging for me isn’t just another task—it’s a personal outlet, a way to express the thoughts and emotions that bring me joy or sorrow. I patiently await the appearance of inspiration before taking to the keyboard.

Food and cooking deeply connected me to Chip. Now, the thought of Friday nights without his signature pizza is unbearable. Saturdays spent assembling ingredients for our modified New York Times recipes or Sundays making homemade hash and eggs feel hollow. Although my joy of cooking has faded, my passion for good food remains undiminished. Life is way too short to eat bad food- hence, no substitutions.

Cottage cheese is NOT (ever) a substitution.

Amelia dated a young man in high school.  His mother told me she could cook Italian, or as she pronounced it, “eye-tale-e-an.” She proceeded to share her famous lasagna recipe, focusing on using cottage cheese instead of ricotta. No, just no. (This supports my argument about marrying your own kind, an Italian. My Grandfather was right)

Cottage cheese belongs on a diet plate in a diner with canned fruit and kale garnish. Yes, we can tell the difference when you use even a low-fat ricotta.  Lasagna weighs a good 10-12 pounds in a lasagna pan. Where do you think the weight comes from? Turkey sausage and cottage cheese? No.

Let me introduce you to Robiola.

Nonno Nanni Robiola Okay, perhaps there is a time for substitutions, and Nonno Nanni Robiola would be the premier substitution:

“Nonno Nanni Robiola is a fresh cheese that is extremely easy to spread and has an intense, pleasant taste.

Perfect for starting or ending meals, Nonno Nanni Robiola is a versatile cheese that adapts easily to both sweet and savory recipes.”

Here is a link to their recipe page:

You will never use cream cheese again once you spread Robiola on a bagel, focaccia, or simply toasted Italian bread. In typical Italian fashion, this cheese comes in a small square block. Weighing in at 90 calories and 9 grams of fat for two tablespoons, you will not need to shmear it on heavy.

At Murray’s Cheese, they suggested spreading this on a lemon shortbread cookie, so I had to do it. It was heaven.

When a menu says, “No Substitutions.”

Often, menus feature a chef’s note stating, “no substitutions.” This reflects the chef’s creative vision, with each ingredient and spice chosen to create the perfect balance in the dish. Substitutes like no carbs, fat-free, almond milk, or cottage cheese are prohibited. (This is not a critique of those with food allergies.) It’s about experiencing the dish as originally intended. This ensures that guests savor the meal exactly as created by the chef, without alterations.

This concept applies to love as well. The phrase “true love” is often misused because genuine love is rare. You cannot force someone to fit your ideal of love. The heart and soul recognize true love long before the mind does. If I have learned anything, it is that true love comes with its costs: immense joy when present and profound loss when missing. There is simply no substitute for it, and like the perfect pairing of wine and food, there is nothing more intense.

PS Amelia, yes, King Arthur Flour is worth the investment because, like the old Porsche tagline simply stated, “Porsche, there is no substitute.”

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About Me

KarenHello and welcome.
I am often asked, “What is Pasta on the Floor?”
Pasta on the Floor is different for everyone. It is a recipe that tells a story and inspires them to try something new. For others, stories of family, joy, loss, and hope engage with them. This brings me a great deal of happiness. I do not take myself too seriously, so be forewarned the subject matter is open and truthful. In many ways, Pasta is a tale of life, and I think you will find familiarity and commonality as you scroll through these pages.

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