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Posts Tagged ‘great pasta sauce recipes’

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Setting boundaries in our relationships isn’t always an easy task. Nobody wants to say “no” to a friend or a loved one, but sometimes it is necessary. Let me begin by saying, historically I have not been good at this. If my phone rang, I answered. I answered it whether I was elbow deep in a chicken, washing my hair, or hanging from a trapeze in my living room. It was my belief if someone cared enough to take the time to call me, I should reciprocate by caring enough to pick up the phone. These days I can give myself a hall pass on a ringing phone if I am too tired, not in the mood to talk, in the middle of my favorite movie, or simply not inclined to answer it. There is still a twinge of residual guilt associated with such behavior, but I manage to finish the chapter in my book, dry my hair, or simply keep my feet in an upright position and work my way through it. Another step forward is when I do call back I don’t spend two hours explaining why I didn’t answer the phone in the first place.

Taught early in life by the females molding my young character one puts others needs before your own, it was a difficult concept for me to 4wrap my mind around the difference between acting in a “selfish” manner and taking care of oneself. Once I grasped the idea, at least to the level I have achieved, I found it a most freeing concept indeed. In a world where contact comes in so many forms, it is nice to turn it off, if you will, for a while and find a quiet place for your thoughts and body to rejuvenate and refresh themselves. Cue yoga master, Celtic music, and waterfall here.

It used to be I found riding in the car extremely relaxing. Driving along with the radio playing my favorite tunes, was for me very soul soothing. Even when my son had colic as a baby, taking him for a car ride if he was fussy quickly lulled him to sleep. When cell phones arrived on the scene, prior to laws prohibiting their use while driving, my idyllic drive home after work or when headed for a day off at the beach or perhaps a picnic in the park was often interrupted by friends having issues, someone needing a recipe, requests to pick up dry cleaning, or to settle a disagreement or problem arising at home. My world became a little bit smaller the more connected I became.

In the 80’s my family adopted a “Susie will do it” attitude. If there was a button needed sewing, a game hen needed stuffing, a ride to be given, or a favor to be asked my name was the first one tossed in the hat. My son would announce five minutes before bedtime he had a project due the following day, and often I would find myself up long after everyone else was spooning with the Sandman building volcanoes out of paper mache or making flour and salt maps of the United States. If cupcakes were3 needed for a Friday school party and notice given Thursday night just before my favorite program was to begin, ten minutes later I would be running around the market in my fuzzy slippers gathering cupcake liners, and ingredients to get the job done.  It got so bad on my thirty-third birthday Superwoman showed up on my cake, and one of the gag gifts was a tee-shirt with a big red “S” on the front. Really? Looking back I think I felt if I could do absolutely everything for absolutely everybody somehow the world would sit better on its axis and life would progress wrinkle free into the good night. Not so, my friends. Definitely not so.

Being a working mother I entertained a certain amount of buried need to make up for not being there apron in place taking the Baked Alaska out of the oven for dinner when my children got off the bus in the afternoon.  In an effort to fill the gap, I signed on for Soccer Team Mother, Girl Scout Leader, Art Docent, Cookie Monitor, and Ruler of the Free World. if there was a sign up sheet pinned to a wall or attached to a clipboard somewhere, my name was on it. Trying to please everybody and keep them happy can not only be a thankless job often, but rarely is successful on any level. You’re not happy, they’re not happy, ain’t nobody happy.

1A side effect of all this doing was rather than being buried in appreciative hugs and copious thanks, the doing became expected behavior by my loved ones going unnoticed until not performed, then becoming a source of contention in the ranks. So, after many years of finding “no” a difficult word to say, I find as I’m getting older it slides as easily off my lips as a pat of cold butter off a hot pancake. Certainly because you are empowered by being able to say no, I am not encouraging you to go about saying no to everything, but it does not mean you always have to say yes either. The world will continue to turn, birds will sing, seasons will pass, and others will find a way to take care of things they need to take care of themselves, if you’re not there to do it for them. Trust me on this.

This does not mean we should not help one another, it just allows for time to take care of oneself as well. When my children reached the high school level I mastered no so effectively I could have taught a class on the word and all the different nuances and intonations involved in saying it to achieve the desired results. Such a little word, containing so much power. It is wonderful nurture others, but also paramount to nurture ourselves in the doing of it.

So, kick back, put your feet up, ignore the pinging of electronic device to your left and breathe.

This recipe falls slightly outside my comfort zone. My other half loves liver in many forms. I do not. As a child my grandmother often made liver buried in sautéed onions and bacon. It was my worst nightmare other than beef steak and kidney pie, often ending up in the folds of my napkin or in the open mouth of the grateful cat waiting under the dining room table. As the years passed I could manage liver if it showed up in holiday stuffing or gravy, and I love a good pate, but just sautéed livers presented on a plate will take me back to the napkin scenario for disposal in the blink of an eye. Saying this, I love this rich meaty sauce with the subtle tastes the livers impart to it. Go figure. Anyhow, I’ll present to you for your opinion.

Three Meat Pasta Sauce with Chicken Livers

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 rib of celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. Italian bulk sausage, hot
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground chuck
3 chicken livers, trimmed and fat removed
1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
2 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried fennel
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

In large pot heat butter and oil over med. heat. Add vegetables and cook 8-10 mins. until tender. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Crumble and add all meats including liver to pan. Cook until meat is browned.

Add wine to pan and cook until it is mostly evaporated. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, water, sugar and all seasonings. Stir well and bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook covered for 1 hr. and 15 mins. stirring often. Serve over your favorite pasta or in lasagna.

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1Yesterday was a very Susie kind of day. At one point Rick threatened to lock me in the closet until the clock struck midnight and the madness had passed.

It began quietly enough. I slept in. After hitting the on button the coffee maker I piled on enough clothes to keep me from freezing to death while fetching the paper and trudged up the hill. This snow, it appears, is not planning on going anywhere any time soon.  This presents several problems for us. First, we didn’t realize we should have taken the car to the top of the driveway and parked it on the street prior to the storm. What can I say? Obviously we’re novices when it comes to having a steep driveway in a hard freeze, which occurred last night, and will again for tonight and tomorrow night. Oh-oh. Now, we bought water and flashlights, thought of candles and batteries. We did not, however, think to purchase a snow shovel or any salt to throw on the driveway. Doomed are we. Quite possibly by the time the spring thaw arrives I’ll weigh 88 pounds and be living with Rip Van Winkle.

Not bad enough we are confined to barracks, but Murphy began to toy with me. My plan for dinner was to make this delicious pasta sauce, which I put together earlier in the day without a hitch. I went downstairs to vacuum. We have two in the house, one up and one down. The ironing board was up because I am sewing for Christmas. Plugging in the vacuum I must have overloaded the circuit (Really? Two plugs in one outlet and it overloads, that can’t be good. The money pit deepens.) At any rate this meant retracing my steps, putting on my warm outer garments and back into the garage, which I did. Locating the tripped switch I flipped it back on and went back downstairs. Deciding against plugging it in in the same room, I went into the bedroom and plugged it in an empty plug in that wall. Sneaky. Unfortunately, the space heater was running for the cat. I know, I know. Once again the lights went out. Boo looked up as if to say, “I hope you’re planning on taking care of that”. Insert expletive here. Ach.

Rick settled in to watch the 49er’s, a Sunday tradition. Twenty minutes before the game was to start the cable went out. Perfect. It came back on thankfully minutes before the first play or Rick would have been inconsolable.

Saturday we had no mail delivery because several tree limbs above the mailboxes drooped down making it impossible to access the door to the mailbox. I decided to spend a few minutes removing the offending limbs while Rick watched his beloved football. I mentioned I was going out in passing, but he was busy giving the coaches a lesson on how to properly move the ball up field, so I closed the door, grabbed the clippers and back up the hill I went. The limbs, when giggled, loosened every bit of snow on the higher branches. By the time I’d cut down two large limbs I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy after an unfortunate flour incident. Sigh. Someone went by and honked and laughed. It’s always nice to have an audience when you’re making an ass of yourself.

Freezing, I headed to the house only to find the door locked. I’ve been talking about hiding a key somewhere on the property, but naturally procrastinated until it now became an issue. I knocked. Nothing. I knocked again, loudly. It wasn’t getting any warmer since I was wet from head to toe. Hello? The TV announcers were yelling above the screaming crowds and looking in the window Rick was not in his seat. Swell. Finally, Rick came back from the loo and let me in asking me what I was doing outside. Never mind.

Inside, and beginning to feel my joints thaw, I put the pasta water on to boil. It takes longer at this elevation it seems. From the pantry I retrieved a large box of thin spaghetti I was planning to use with my yummy sauce. Walking towards the kitchen with nothing in my way to impede my progress, I somehow managed to squeeze the box in such a way it sprung open strewing spaghetti all over the floor. What didn’t land on the floor cascaded over the banister littering my freshly vacuumed stairs. I’m sorry, I am not vacuuming again! Rick looked over his shoulder and shook his head. That again.

Loading the nearly full dishwasher with my dinner prep items, Rick announced over the TV, “Oh, I ran the dishwasher so the dishes are clean”. Really?  Were clean would be more accurate. Never mind.

Afraid to touch anything, but getting hungry, I prepared my garlic bread and turned on the broiler. Popping my bread in the oven, my mother called and quickly I became involved searching the Internet for a nightgown for my aunt. Interrupting my searching and the cat’s nap (another of her nine lives was sacrificed in the making of this garlic bread), both smoke alarms simultaneously began screeching. By the time I opened the oven door the bodies were ready for the urns. Good news though, I found a petite medium nightie for my aunt in pink. Somehow we managed to forage together enough food for this meal. I loved this pasta sauce, thick and meaty. Yum.

Photos by Susie Nelson

Meaty Pasta Sauce with Thin Spaghetti

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage links, hot
1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 16 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1 pkg. thin spaghetti
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Remove the sausage casings and slice into 1/2″ slices. Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet over med. heat. Add sausage and brown on all sides (10 mins.). Drain on paper towels.

Add ground beef, onion, and minced garlic to same skillet. Cook until meat is browned. Add next thirteen ingredients. Bring to boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for two hours.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup water. Add reserved water to pasta sauce and mix well. Toss pasta with olive oil. Place in pasta bowls and ladle sauce over top. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

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