Native Californians have their share of regional expressions, but in terms of interest, variety, and color, we can’t begin to compete with Southerners.
Sadly, years of graduate school have expunged most of the phrases from my husband’s vernacular, but they always return, at least in small measure, when we spend time with my in-laws. I have a few favorites.
Topping my list is “bless your heart.” My husband’s grandmothers and aunties use this one, often. According to my anecdotal evidence, this idiom is exclusive to Southern women. Used in response to information of all kinds, “bless your heart” can express deepest sympathy or concern, but Yankees beware: it has additional meanings including, but not limited to, “how appalling,” “how very pitiful,” and “darlin’, you’re crazy.”
Next up is one of my mother-law’s favored turns-of-phrase, “fixin’ to.” If you’re fixin’ to do something, you’re getting ready to, planning to, and/or intending to do something. The potential ambiguity of this phrase is very appealing. For example, I can say I’m “fixin’ to re-organize my filing cabinet,” but this could mean I’d like to do it, but I’ll actually get around to it in 10 minutes, two weeks, or never.
Then there’s “putting up,” meaning to put something away; in the case of food, it can also refer to preserving or storing (e.g., jarring, canning, and preserving fruits and vegetables in cans and mason jars). My husband continues to use this one. It caused particular confusion the first time we camped together when, upon preparing to leave, he asked me to help him “put up the tent.”
And finally, one of my father-in-law’s multi-purpose expressions (really a single word): “deal.” He uses this pronoun for everything from weddings to rain gutters to dentures. Considering he relies on “deal” so frequently, you’d think communication would be problematic. But if I pay attention to the context and inflection, the meaning is almost always illuminated.
For example, when he asked me yesterday if I might make–and share the recipe for–that “1-pot spaghetti deal” I’d made the last time they visited us in Texas, I knew exactly what he wanted, and I was happy to oblige.
Here’s what makes these delicious pasta extra-special: everything is thrown into one pot to cook, including the pasta! Really and truly, it works. Just layer everything in the pot, like so, and add water:
Then cook until the pasta is tender–you do not even need to drain the pasta!
I know you will love this 1-pot “spaghetti deal,” too!
- 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti
- 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup drained, oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 medium sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced crosswise
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
- 4 and ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- fine sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- nutrional yeasr or grated Parmesan cheese (if not vegan)
- Place the pasta in a large pot and top with the tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil; pour the broth and oil over the ingredients.
- Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 14 to 18 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Cook until most, but not all, of the broth has evaporated (there should be about an inch of "sauce" in the pot).
- Season to taste with salt and pepper , stirring pasta several times to distribute the sauce in the bottom of the pot.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with slivered basil and either nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese.