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Cooking With Myra: Celebrate Mother's Day with pasta, cake

By By Myra Starkey
May 6, 2014 at 12:06 a.m.

Lump crabmeat pasta

Lump Crabmeat Pasta

• 1/4 cup dry white wine

• 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar

• 1/3 cup finely chopped shallot

• 15 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces

• 1 pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over

• 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives

• 1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

• 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

• 2 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• 1/2 lb dried capellini pasta

In a saucepan boil the wine, tarragon vinegar until reduced to three tablespoon of liquid. Add shallots and then butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each. If mixture is getting too hot, remove from heat. Add all herbs and crab. Toss gently. Cook pasta to tender. Do not overcook. Reserve 3 Tbsp. of pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta. Sauce can be doubled easily.

Toss pasta with crab sauce and reserved cooking water in a serving bowl. Garnish with basil leaf. Serve with side of diced veggies.

LEMON CAKE with glaze

• Lemon cake mix

• 3/4 cup water

• 3/4 cup oil

• 4 eggs

Mix all ingredients well and pour into prepared cake pan. This step is crucial because if the pan is not prepared the cake will not release from the pan. Bake according to directions.

Make an icing of powdered sugar and lemon juice (fresh) and mix thoroughly. Icing should by pourable as this is a glaze.

I am not sure what made me think about the possible number of years I have left to live. This consideration of my longevity might have been brought on by being tired, having bronchitis and working a lot of hours lately.

I was going to the drug store after work to pick up an antibiotic. I was lucky enough to catch my doctor on the phone, and he took pity on me and called something in.

Now that I was at the pharmacy, I was killing time doing math in my head and came up with the fact that if I lived to be 85, then I would have 32 more years because I am currently a very youthful 53. Heck, I thought what if lived to be 95. That's a possibility with modern medicine. That calculation yielded 42 years.

This age would be unlikely since most of my family has not lived that long. I continued to wait my turn as the clerk checked out the lady in front of me, but the thought remained in my mind.

The last 32 years has flown by. Taylor and I married in 1982, started a family, started a business and raised three great kids. During those years there were seasons that time seemed to stand still. Our first two kids, Miles and Hannah, were only 15 months apart. Spencer arrived three years later making our family complete.

I have always worked outside the home, and there were days I wished life could move at a faster pace. I recall wishing I had a kid old enough to drive so they could go to the grocery store or run errands. Yet when that time came, I wished life could slow down, since having a kid with a driver's license terrified me.

All of our children are grown with jobs. Hannah, our only married child, is buying her first house. The boys are climbing the career ladder but have yet to settle down in matrimony.

The years are slipping away. Did I mention I probably have about 32 left? I decided to have this conversation with Taylor just in case he had not thought about it. It went something like this.

"Taylor, did you realize I probably have about 32 more years left to live?"

He was driving so he looked over at me to make a quick medical assessment. "Really?" he responded. "I think I'll live to be 95 so that means I have 40 years left."

I countered, "Who wants to live to be that old? Ninety-five doesn't look too good on most people."

"My family lives a really long time, and they have their wits about them," he replied with a tilt of his head in my direction, probably because my side of the family tends to lose their mind. My grandmother had Alzheimer's, but dad is going strong at 81.

Then I decided to throw in the optimistic part of the equation. Living another 32 years means I have 11,680 days left. Of course, I realize that God decides if I live or die and leaving it up to Him is of great comfort to me. But for the sake of calculation, 11,680 is a lot of days depending on how you spend them.

Taylor and I were on our way to Rockport during this conversation. The sky was blue, and the air had not yet turned hot or humid. I rolled down my window and could smell the verdant freshness of spring. He asked me why I had my window rolled down when we were driving 75, and I told him I was smelling the verdant freshness of spring.

As we cruised along, I thought of how I would like to spend these final days. I enjoy my job as it is a challenge almost every day; however, I don't want to work until the day I die. I hope I get to retire in about 10 years. I love to meet people and hear their stories. I really love to be with my old friends.

I love to eat good food, and when I have time, I love to prepare interesting recipes. I love movies. I love to spend time with family. I love my children and enjoy when they come to visit or when we travel to see them. I love to go to Louisiana to see my dad and to eat Cajun food. I love the beach and seashells, and I love mission trips to Guatemala.

I love to knit and sew but hardly ever make the time. I love to weave, but I am not very good. I love to garden and watch my plants grow. I love my two poodles, Hazel and Lola, and also my chickens. I was thinking of all these things and not saying a word as we drove along. I hope that I can continue to do what I love.

Over the weekend, I brought up the conversation again while we were at the feed store. We had stopped to get a hoe since I was working in the yard and had broken off the end of my old one. I heard chicken noises and found my way to the chicken room where there were six levels of brooder pens housing all kinds of baby chickens.

How lucky I was that they had Araucanas, which lay blue and green eggs. Since I was likely on day 11,679, I decided to buy two of them to add to my flock. I know chickens are one more complication in my life and realize that I am trying simplify my life, but who could pass up baby chicks?

I don't want to fill every day with the maximum amount of activities. On the other hand, counting our days and realizing that there are a finite number of them left could cause us to be more purposeful in our actions. Making each day matter, loving those around us and being loved is what's important. Each day is a gift from God.

Mother's Day is right around the corner. I miss my mom more than I thought possible, but I will celebrate Mother's Day with L'nell (Taylor's mom) and my children.

A simple meal of pasta, crab and vegetables can be prepared separately and then tossed together at the last minute. Add a salad and lemon cake. This lemon cake is from my friend, Susan, and is often requested by readers.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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