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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Little Bit of Home(Cooking)

Today I still find myself missing the ease of being in my mother's home. Even though it is not my home anymore, I still find myself comforted by being in her space, simply because it resonates with her, and so with me. I think a lot about our times together, just the two of us in that little apartment. We struggled a lot to get by, but I'm not sure I knew it then. I mean, I knew but yet, those times were some of the best in my life so in that respect it never mattered. The make-shift family we had then of artists, musicians, writers -- these were some of the most important friendships of my life. These people shaped my outlook on the world, and so they are with me every day that I step out into it. To all of those beautiful people --- I love you.

So in perfect homage to my mother today, I took on another of her hand-me-down recipes. A classic Italian favorite - Spaghetti with Meatballs (and Ribs).

[I tend to make this recipe in large quantities and store for later use.]

My mother taught me to cook through instinct and emotion, and so I am not someone who generally cooks by recipe. I tend to be able to just throw things together without careful measurements. This blog is one way I am attempting to archive my family recipes for the next generation. Please keep in mind as you read that all of my measurements (excluding baking) are approximations, and that I may make a particular recipe a little bit differently each time I cook it depending on who I'm feeding, or how I'm feeling. Please adjust to your personal tastes, and use your culinary intuitions to guide you.

(Makes 24-26)1 lb. ground beef
2 eggs
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. each: basil, parsley, oregano

Mix all the ingredients together by hand until evenly mixed. Press into small hand-full sized meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees until browned and cooked through, approximately 15 min.

*Tip: These can be made ahead of time and stored in batches in the freezer until needed. Just make sure to cool them to room temperature before freezing in order to maintain flavor, and minimize frost buildup.

Per serving (2 meatballs): 118 calories, 15 grams protein and High in Iron

Ribs: This time around I used one package of pork baby-back ribs and cooked them according to the package instructions which called for them to be cooked in the oven at 350 degrees for 3 hours in a shallow covered dish and then grilled (or in my case, simmered) in desired sauce until done and serve.

2 lg. (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes (I like to use ones seasoned with Basil, Oregano and Garlic)
1 sm. 6 oz. can tomato paste ( and 1 can water)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
6-8 white mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tsp. each basil, parsley, oregano
4-6 cloves garlic, minced

(Per Serving (approx. 1 cup sauce): 113 Calories, 8 g Fiber, 7 g Protein and High in Iron, Vitamin C and Vitamin A)

*I didn't use all these vegetables in the version I photographed here, but I generally like to make a pretty hearty sauce. I make the meatballs and ribs ahead of time and divide the batches in half (freezing one half for later use). I then through the sauce components together into a crock pot and add the half batch of meatballs, and the half batch of ribs (sliced into single rib chunks) and simmer on low all day.

When I get home, I can throw on some noodles, crack open a bottle of wine and enjoy my masterpiece. (It is best with a thick slice of garlic bread and a small mixed greens salad (with a light garlic olive oil dressing) as a finishing course.) Enjoy!


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