Making Better Pasta

Just thought I’d share a few tips I’ve learned in the last while about making better pasta.  These are just little steps you can do with the stuff in the box or bag, without getting into making your own pasta from scratch.  I’ve picked up all these tips from around the different sites and shows, so hopefully it’s best of the best.

1. Use a LOT of water.

Most people don’t use enough water and, as a result, the water gets too starchy too quickly.  Look at the pasta pot you are using and consider going up a size for your next run.

2. Salt the water heavily when boiling

I put a whole handfull of kosher salt in for a large pot of boiling water.  You can use less if you are using iodized salt, but think tablespoons, not teaspoons.  This gives some taste to otherwise bland pasta.  You’ll know if you used too much if the salt overpowers the pasta when you get to the tasting phase.

3. Bring the pot to a rolling boil before thinking about putting in the pasta

For reals.  This is the A#1 tip.  You want the pasta to cook quickly, not soak in water.  Bring the water to a full boil, then back off the temp a bit before you chuck in the pasta.  Makes a huge difference.

4. Test for al dente often.

After the pasta starts moving on its own in the water (you can tell it’s cooking), start sampling it, and sample it every 30 sec to 1 min.  Let the pasta go a little undercooked rather than overcooked.  Al dente is when the pasta is firm but not bony.  There is nothing to substitute for practice here.  Try and try again.  Remember the pasta is going to continue to cook a bit in step 6 below, so slightly underdone is good.  You just don’t want any boniness.

5. Do not wash the pasta when you strain it.

Your getting rid of the starch and salt and flavor, cooling the pasta too quickly, and the pasta will stick together worse if you do this.  Big no no.

6. Do not leave the pasta dry / overstrain

OK, so the best thing to do is to take pasta out of boiling water and put it DIRECTLY into simmering sauce.  Let the sauce and pasta cook together for a few minutes.  This infuses the pasta with the flavor of the sauce and gets rid of the thick sauce glob on top of dry/sticky pasta glob when you plate it up.  The starch on the pasta also thickens your sauce a bit.

If you’re not using a sauce or you REALLY want your guests to be able to put on their own sauce (so not the way the italians do it), immediately put some olive oil over the pasta.  This is to keep it from sticking and to make it shimmer and taste yummers even on its own.

Do these things!


Through the eyes of a child

I get daily emails from, though I’ve never bought anything from them.

Today, for the first time, I noticed at the bottom of every Groupon web page they have some funny kid thought.

Here was the one that had me in stitches this morning:

For reals… teachers do live in their classrooms! I totally thought that as a kid… Either that or they were robots and just got into the one tall closet they all had in their rooms (but never opened) and turned themselves off.

New Way to Get a Job

So… Facebook makes its money by selling ads; targeted ads.  Ads that target.

Here is a targeted ad I saw today:

Talk about a non traditional way to get a job!  Not that I have any hiring power in Cisco sales, but surely someone who works in Cisco’s sales is on Facebook and will view this ad.  Maybe the guy’s money isn’t super-well spent, but hey – when nothing else has worked for long enough – why not this?

Weekends are Nice

Weekends are just fantastic.

This weekend, we enjoyed a friday night game night with our friends, the Brauns.  It has been TOO long since we hung out!  The best part of the night was when little Elizabeth came running into my arms and playing on my lap for a few minutes.  Granted, her motivation was to avoid having to go to bed, but still – it was a FIRST!  She is finally warming up to her Uncle Brows.

Saturday was going to be an intense yard day, but it wasn’t to be.  I got up early to attend a baptism, and when Audrey went to go pull the mower out, she saw the TruGreen people pulling away – no mowing for 48 hours!  At least our weeds will die now, and we’ll hopefully have something to mow!

We decided we could still trim the bushes, but when I got my trimmer out I quickly found that all of the batteries were dead.  As dead as dead could be.  I guess winter likes to drain batteries?  Who knew?

So we went to Plan C: clean off the back porch.  We had about 10 pots of various dead vegetation on our back porch that needed to be removed and destroyed.  When we were all done, we were left with a single potted tree.  Kinda sad, but kinda good.

I returned to the inside world where I got laundry and dishes done while Audrey washed her car and soaked up some of the great spring sunshine.  What a beautiful, allergy-filled day it was!

That evening we enjoyed Sherlock Holmes together.  I thought it was a really good movie.  Well played!

Sunday, I barely made it to my 6:30am meeting.  A2 had to re-wake me up at 6 after I had disabled my alarm at 5:30 and fallen back to sleep.  I trudged to church and put in my obligatory 8 hours.

When I finally got home, A2 suggested that we watch Star Wars Episode 3 (the only one she had never seen…) so we did!  It was a miracle that she suggested it.  The only greater miracle would be if she ever asked to watch The Princess Bride.  Somehow I avoided falling asleep during the movie.

We took a nice walk after the movie and enjoyed some of the activity in the neighborhood.  These are some of the few weeks where people here in Texas enjoy being outdoors, unless you’re an allergy sufferer in which case you still have to wait for the fall to truly enjoy nice temperatures.

Nice weather outside always turns my thoughts back to our boring back yard.  On our walk, we talked about what we wanted in our back yard.  We verbally designed a 20 or 30 thousand dollar back yard, and then came back to reality to know that we just needed to do something simple that we could enjoy a few times per year.

Does anyone have any landscape design skillz?  We need help translating our vision to paper!

Back to work today…


This blog has been sadly neglected.


  • A2 has been sick, so I’ve been focused on barking at her that she’s not drinking enough fluids.  She, for her part, is putting Vicks vapor rub on her feet in order to keep from coughing at night.  Does this sound completely illogical to anyone else but me?
  • Work has been busy.  I’ve been swatting software bugs faster than you can spell supercalifragilesticexpialidocious.  (I think I spelled it wrong)
  • I’m feeling a bit uninspired.  I think being married is training me have fewer opinions and just defer to what my spouse says.  Even though other married men are nodding their heads as they read this, it doesn’t make it right.
  • Blogging is on the decline.  I think blogging hit its peak in 2008-09, but now that there’s been movies about blogging, it’s going out of vogue.  Those of you who know me know that, if anything, I’m EXTREMELY conscious of staying in vogue.  This is why I’m still sporting a hair style from 2003.

Does anyone even read this, still?  Or have I completely falled off of your blog reading list.

A Plate of Cookies and a Message


Consider this your plate of holiday cookies and your annual “Christmas card” from WhiteEyebrows.

It’s been a good year.  You can read about it at my wife’s blog. I don’t have much to add to the events.  You all basically know what happened this year: we got engaged, planned a wedding, got married, did a lot of traveling, and learned to live with each other.  I still draw pretty pictures and Cisco, she still plays around with spreadsheets at JC Penney.  She wants a dog, I don’t.  We both work hard at church – I’m the Bishop’s secretary and she’s a counselor in Young Women’s.

What you may not know is this…

Continue reading A Plate of Cookies and a Message