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'Life's too short' not to enjoy life, including dessert

By Kara Kimbrough

'Life's too short' not to enjoy life, including dessert
Reliving a delicious pasta meal at Cecconi's in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) in Brooklyn will have to suffice until I can return to one of my favorite U.S. cities.

"Life's too short..."

It seemed like I heard these words everywhere I went last week. The fact that I heard it as the 22nd anniversary approaches of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, the Pentagon and an aborted plane headed toward the U.S. Capitol didn't escape my notice.

First, a supermarket cashier began telling me about her recipe for what she proudly calls "$100 Baked Beans." She's fine with purchasing ingredients that cost over $100 for one bowl, albeit a very large one. In fact, her feeling is, "life's too short" to worry about money when you have an award-winning recipe. Filled with five meats, a bunch of spices and much more, she promised to email me the recipe. If I receive it, I'll pass it along.

A few days later, I overheard a conversation in a restaurant between a couple at a nearby table. A friendly debate on whether or not to order dessert was taking place. I listened with interest that quickly turned to sadness as the wife recounted the story she'd recently heard. A lady who visited Paris declined to sample the French pastries and desserts for which the city is known because she was "watching her weight." Sadly, she passed away the following week without taking even one bite of world-famous delicacies. As the lady ended the story, her husband quickly interjected: "Order what you's too short to worry about calories."

It made me wonder how many of the 2,996 people killed on Sept. 11, 2001, went to bed on Sept. 10 after turning down a piece of pie at dinner that night...or choosing a salad instead of a grilled steak or New York-style pasta. For the innocent victims that included hundreds of young men and women in their 20's and 30s, seniors on the verge of retirement, babies and young children, firefighters, policemen and many other rescue workers, life was indeed much too short.

Americans should never forget what happened that day 22 years ago. It wasn't just an attack on New York City, the Pentagon or the Capitol, the target which led to the plane crash in Pennsylvania - it was an attack on America. And four Mississippi natives, including two from the town of Durant, were among the victims. It was an attack on all of us, regardless of where we live.

I was in New York City at the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum site on the 20th anniversary in 2021. I had hoped to return this year as a member of the press corps covering the memorial ceremony, but a scheduling conflict arose. If you haven't visited the 9/11 site, I highly recommend it. Built in the footprints of the Twin Towers, it's a life-changing experience - something every American needs to see.

On a lighter note, I'm sad not just to miss the anniversary, but the city itself. There are many breathtaking sites and attractions I haven't yet experienced and restaurants I want to visit. The next best thing to being there? I uncovered several must-try New York recipes in Mississippi's own Quail Ridge Press' "Best of the Best From New York" cookbook. Here are two that stood out as quintessentially New York. The pasta dish, reminiscent of one I enjoyed two years ago, is on my list for 9/11/23.

And remember, life's too short...never forget 9/11 or the need to embrace life while we are blessed with it.

Reuben Lasagna 1 27-ounce can sauerkraut, rinse and drained (can substitute chopped cabbage and onions, sauteed in oil until wilted, or dill relish) 1 pound sliced deli corned beef, coarsely chopped 1 can cream of mushroom soup 8-ounce bottle Thousand Island dressing 1-1/2 cup milk 1 medium onion, chopped 1 teaspoon dry mustard 9 oven-ready (no boil) lasagna noodles 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs 1 tablespoon butter, melted Preheat oven to 350 degress. Coat 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In medium bowl, combine sauerkraut (or substitute) and corned beef. Mix well. In another medium bowl, combine soup, dressing, milk, onions and mustard. Spread 1/3 of soup mixture in baking dish. Place 3 lasagna noodles on top. Top with 1/2 of the corned beef mixture, then another 1/3 of remaining soup mixture. Layer with 3 remaining noodles, then remaining corned beef mixture. Add the last 3 noodles and cover with remaining 1/3 of soup mixture. Sprinkle Swiss cheese, then bread crumbs on top. Drizzle butter on top. Cover with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and bake for additional 5-10 minutes or until bubbly. Let set for 5-10 minutes. Cut and serve. Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce 12 ounces heavy cream Stick of butter, melted 8-ounce can seasoned tomato sauce 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste 1 tablespoon tomato pesto, more to taste 1 teaspoon basil 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic 1-1/2-2-1/2 cups grated Romano cheese 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes 10 ounce package of linguini or favorite pasta Pour all liquids into a heavy saucepan and get them very hot, being careful to stir and not let them stick. Add salt, pepper, pesto, basil and garlic. Lower heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in grated cheese until it thickens; add chopped tomatoes and stir to combine, continuing to cook on low. Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions. When pasta is cooked, run under hot water to wash off starch; drain well.

Place pasta in bowl and toss with sauce. Adjust seasonings to taste and add chopped chicken, shrimp or other favorite meat, if desired. Serves 4. Recipes from Best of the Best From New York by Quail Ridge Press.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at


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