Diary of a Home Cook
Today has been one of those days. I planned ahead what I would cook but I didn’t get it moving for lunch which was my goal. Bob plays racquetball doubles on Saturday mornings and I tackled paperwork on my desk while he was gone. Didn’t get a lot done but at least made a minor dent.
We both had hair appointments in the afternoon so it bounced my cooking back to the late afternoon. I generally cook according to my tastebuds and what they are craving at the time. My mistake was in asking Bob which he preferred, because I know his love for meatballs and spaghetti, and that won out over my preference of fusion tacos. More about those later. I just wasn’t in the mood for spaghetti and don’t like meatballs so I made both, meatballs and meat sauce. It was easy and went quickly so all is good. You are really going to like the flavor and ease of this meal and hopefully you will try it or something similar soon.
After we got back from our hairdresser, I finally got around to going into the kitchen to cook and things just fell into place. I had 1 ¼ pounds good Angus ground chuck and prechopped onions in the frig, boy am I getting lazy. I ultimately used one 4-quart saucepan, 1 everyday pan and one small skillet plus a pot for the spaghetti. It took me only 30 minutes to have my meatsauce with meatballs and red gravy simmering.
First I put the 4-quart pot on the burner on high, added one 14.5-ounce can chicken broth, 4 cups water and two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce, and brought it to a boil. When it began to boil I turned the heat to low and put a lid on it so it would simmer while I started on the seasonings.
One third of my ground meat went into a large bowl with a small amount of salt and pepper, some garlic powder, about ¼ cup bread crumbs, a tablespoon of minced onion, a couple of tablespoons water and one whole egg. The fun of meatballs is getting your hands in there to squoosh it all together. I put my everyday pan on the stove, added about ¼ inch oil and turned the burner on high. While it heated I formed my meat mixture into six balls. When the oil was rippling, hot, I turned the burner down to medium, added the meatballs and browned them on all sides. When browned, I removed them to a shallow bowl to add to the sauce later.
Using the oil from the meatballs I put 1 cup chopped onions and the remaining ground meat into the everyday pan that was still over medium heat. They began to brown nicely incorporating the drippings from the meatballs. At this point I seasoned the pan with a little salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and added one 6-ounce can tomato paste and stirred well. I continued to stir no more than 2 more minutes, didn’t want the garlic to burn. When the meat and onions were tender and the paste was well blended they were added to the sauce pot simmering on another burner. As an afterthought I added one 4 ounce can sliced black olives, rinsed. I love black olives and mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce but had neglected to purchase mushrooms so moved forward without them.
I adjusted my amount of liquid in the pot so that it would not thicken too much and partially covered the bubbling mixture allowing it to cook down and blend the flavors. It was already tasting rather yummy. The sauce took 30 minutes to prepare and I was well on my way to a delicious meal. The meatballs were introduced to the sauce and all gently simmered another 30 minutes.
The beauty of being a cook without recipes kind of cook is that you can get in your kitchen and add a dash of this and a pinch of that, and produce an artistic creation that speaks to your personality and tastebuds. It’s the difference between buying a dress off of the rack and designing and sewing it yourself. There is a satisfaction that comes only from knowing that it is all yours. I truly encourage those of you who only cook with recipes to take the leap and spread your wings to encompass the delights of creating a fantastically flavorful meal all on your own. That doesn’t mean you have to re-invent the wheel, use a recipe as a springboard and go from there. It is very freeing and most times a lot of fun. Don’t expect to be a cooking channel chef on your first try…the first time I made ravioli from scratch I had to scrape them off the counter because I didn’t know to put sufficient flour under the dough. That is a fond memory on my learning curve.
Back to the meal of the moment. In my small skillet I combined 1 cup sauce and 1 cup water and brought it to a gentle simmer. When the temperature was right I slowly cracked 5 eggs, one at a time, into the diluted sauce. The skillet was then partially covered with a small lid and allowed to continue to cook over low heat for the remainder of the time the sauce was simmering. These Italian poached eggs are some kind of good eating, a wonderful addition to your meal and worth checking out.
On another burner I put my pasta water on to boil. When it came to a rapid boil I put in ½ of a ounce box of spaghetti, turned the heat down to maintain a nice rolling boil and cooked the spaghetti for 9 minutes. After 5 minutes I salted my spaghetti and let it finish cooking. Once drained I sauced it just enough to keep it from sticking together and we were in business.
Bob had wandered into the kitchen and saw my concert unfolding, grabbed a bowl and within the space of not more than 5 minutes put together a great tomato and lettuce salad with his own home made oil and vinegar salad dressing. I affectionately refer to him as my sous chef and love to share my kitchen with him.
One hour start to finish we were setting the table and had a marvelous meal before us. Everything was easy and quick and loaded with flavor. We ate our fill and still have a bowl left over for another meal plus about 2 cups of meat sauce for an impromptu spaghetti meal another day.
One side comment for those of you watching your weight or happen to be pre-diabetic or diabetic. I use Dreamfields pasta that is specially engineered to cut the carbs. It is delicious. You would not know the difference from other pasta unless you saw the box, and it allows me to enjoy all my favorite dishes without pushing the limits on my carbohydrate intake. I don’t market for the company but I do highly recommend the product. It’s a game maker.
That was what we had for dinner tonight. Simple, satisfying and down home delicious. What was on your menu today?
Don’t forget to get your loved ones a nice Valentine and maybe a special treat.
Ya’ll have a down home delicious day today; we sure did.
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Ya’ll have a down home delicious day now and come back to see us again soon!