The compensation received by the Italian chef was a pretty penne

There is seemingly no end to the high level of competition in dear husband’s family. The educational board games that we all played as children have risen to games to the death. Each new game brought in to the fold must be conquered and played unendingly until the current loser feels like a winner, creating a new loser, who plays until they win, and on and on and on.

It would be easy to pin this all on my sister-in-law and her excellent board game/strategy skills, but my husband is an avid and skilled competitor.

Then enters me. The happy go-lucky game player. Some games I win. Some games I lose. Well, except Agricola. I researched that until I learned how to not come in last place every single time. But I certainly don’t have the level of competition in the game playing realm that dear husband and his family have. I have certainly never played a game like, Monopoly Deal, for example, so obsessively with dear husband that we’re playing it first thing in the morning, battling each other, game after game, all day long. I’m not saying I know people that have, I’m not saying I don’t.

So when I sent a text message to my sister-in-law, challenging her to see who can make the worst ravioli, it seemed like a win win win (incidentally, I did win).

The idea first came to me when I was putting together a family recipe book for my sister-in-law. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my mother-in-law was an amazing cook. Her recipes have been held on to and guarded in plastic bags as closely as her jewelry. But my sister-in-law is more than just her mother’s daughter, she is passing on a rich family history of food to her future children. So I not only copied her mother’s recipes, but I got traditional Norwegian family recipes from her grandmother (my father-in-law’s mother) and from my brother-in-law’s family (a family with strong Italian traditions).

It was the gorgeously, meticulously written recipe for raviolis, from my brother-in-law’s family that has driven my urge to try homemade raviolis. I was so inspired that Santa Claus brought me a ravioli maker (which tarnished after one use and ruined a beautiful batch of raviolis – note to all, don’t buy a metal ravioli maker).  I never expected the in-law’s family ravioli secret recipe, but I knew there was a lot of skill to making raviolis and who better to practice with than my sister-in-law.

I would say in the flavor realm, she has raw talent.  Those words have meant a lot to me since one of my friend’s highlighted his professor’s compliment in college – that he had raw talent (and then ostentatiously displayed it so we could all revel in his talent).  Later as I was changing jobs, one of my senior level colleagues told me I had raw talent in advertising.  So I don’t use those words lightly.  Both my husband and my sister-in-law have a refined flavor palate, and both like to cook more from discovery than from recipes.  We’ve always worked well in the kitchen together and will frequently bounce ideas off of each other, taste each other’s food and give recommendations, so I had a good feeling we would both learn a lot from each other.

IMG_4194[1]I won’t share any recipes.  Dear husband found the raviolis palatable but advised both of us to not apply at any Italian restaurants any time soon.  My dough was a bit thinner, her filling tasted better.  I made a very simple homemade sauce, her was a nice chunky robust jarred sauce that blew my sauce out of the water.  My brother-in-law grunted more towards my sister-in-law’s raviolis, which made me think, appropriately, he preferred hers.  I won’t say who’s raviolis are who’s, but mine are not pornographic :).

There was a lot of laughter and fun.  We ended the evening with good(ish) food.  Dear husband has notes for both of us on improving our ravioli making skills.  It was a great way to spend a cold afternoon.

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5 Responses to The compensation received by the Italian chef was a pretty penne

  1. Me says:

    That’s awesome!!! I have been looking up some ravioli recipes with wonton wrappers since I have a bunch of them….that may be this weekends goal if we get the snow predicted.

  2. Michele says:

    This was a funny read.

  3. The Global Recipe Project at is seeking authentic Italian recipes. I hope you will consider participating! 🙂

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