I Remember Mama


Not only remember her, I talk to her several times a week. She’s nearly 85 years old, and no one should be surprised to learn that she’s, well…a bit of a non-conformist, let’s say.

Anyway, I learned the cooking basics from my mom, and I’d like to illustrate the differences in how I (and she) cooked THEN, and how I cook NOW. To paint this picture, I’m going to give you two recipes: One is my mom’s spaghetti and sauce (we’re not Italian, so we don’t call it gravy–apologies to y’all, no offense). The other is how I do pasta these days

Disclaimer: This is NOT, repeat NOT an eatyourselfslimblog.com approved recipe! Consume at your own risk.

Mom’s Really Good, Old-fashioned Spaghetti and Sauce

You will need:

  • A pound of ground beef, and the cheaper the better (which means you will get ground beef with a really high fat content, yes?)
  • One yellow onion, diced
  • About 1/2 lbs of sliced mushrooms
  • About a cup of red wine
  • One large can of tomato sauce
  • One can of tomato paste, small or medium size
  • Garlic powder, about 4 Tbs.
  • Oregano, about 2 tsps.
  • Dried thyme, about 1/2 tsp.
  • Dried rosemary, about 1/2 tsp.
  • Dried sage, about 1/4 tsp.
  • About 2 Tbs of white sugar
  • Chili powder, about 3 heaping Tbs
  • Cayenne pepper, about 1/4 tsp.
  • Water

NOTE: My mother never used fennel, so I left it out in the above recipe. I do use fennel, however, and I just thought I’d mention it. A bit of Worchestershire also. Shhhh…

What you do:

Toss the ground beef into a dutch oven or large pot and brown over medium high heat.  Stir frequently to avoid sticking. Add in the onion and mushrooms and allow them to cook together with the browning beef.

Once the onions are translucent, and the beef is cooked through, add in the can of tomato sauce and the tomato paste. Stir well to combine. Add in the spices, then, using the empty tomato sauce can, add in two cans of water. Toss in the wine, a little more, a little less…whatever. Stir and bring to a boil. Once the sauce is boiling, bring it down to a simmer, cover and let cook, stirring about every 15 minutes, until it is thick. We don’t want watery sauce, no sir! Taste and season with sugar to sweeten if desired. Some people prefer their sauce to be ‘sharp,’ with a more acidic quality, others prefer a sweeter taste to their sauce.

When your sauce is done, boil water for your spaghetti, (um, not ANGEL HAIR PASTA, now…spaghetti!),  toss in about 1/2 tsp. of salt, and cook those noodles until one sticks to the wall when you throw it. And no, I’m not kidding. (Sorry Mom, but that’s not really the best way to determine ‘doneness’ of pasta, but hey, we used the technology we had at the time). You might want to clean off that wall; tends to get a bit grungy what with all those strings of spaghetti noodles on it and all. Just kidding! We always took ’em off. Eventually. We didn’t have much artwork in my house.

Serve with french bread, spread with loads of butter and sprinkled with garlic powder and parmesan cheese, cooked to a nice crunchy brown in the oven. Slap a heap of spaghetti on a plate, cover it with sauce, put the bread on the table, and hey! Talk about your stick-to-your-ribs cookin’! Mmmmm mmmmm. My mom didn’t put salt in her recipes unless she was baking; even back then she felt the person eating the food should control the salt content. She made an exception for the pasta water because it was thought that it helped the water heat faster.

So there you have it; Mom’s spaghetti. I made it for years, everyone loved it. It’s chock full of fatty goodness, and it stretches…good stuff for people who need to eat cheaply and still get some protein in their diets, but NOT the ideal weight-conscious meal, really.

I can’t begin to calculate the calories in the above recipe (math was never my strong suit), but you can probably figure out as well as I can that it’s a LOT of calories, and a great many of them from fat. Good if you’re a pioneer, bad if you’re an engineer.

But back then, during the Pleistocene Era, that’s the way we cooked. We’ve come a long way, baby…and next I’m going to tell you how I deal with my pasta (not spaghetti anymore is it?) these days. 😀

But hey, go ahead and try the recipe up there, I dare ya! Unless you’d prefer to wait a bit…and opt for a slightly healthier meal…?

Either way…

Bon apetit!