Happy first day of school! When my kids come home and smell sauce cooking on the stove, they are excited for spaghetti. When I was little, I loved the smell of sauce cooking, too. One day after school, my mom asked if I wanted to help make spaghetti sauce. I was eager to start! I asked Mom if she learned from her mother. To my surprise, she said no. She learned from my father’s mother. My paternal grandmother, Ma, had taught her when she and my dad were first married.
My parents met in France in the town of Chaumont, while my dad was serving in the U.S. Airforce. They dated for three years and were married in a beautiful Cathedral in the town of Troyes. After the wedding, they moved to the United States and lived close to my father’s family. My dad’s parents warmly accepted my mom as their daughter-in-law and his two sisters lovingly accepted her as their sister-in-law. My mom only knew a few food names in English such as steak and eggs (and ate alot of that because they were the only words she knew!) And so, Ma helped to teach my mom English as well as how to cook.
Ma, nicknamed by my oldest sister when she was a baby, was an amazing person. She always saw the bright side of life. She used to play the accordion and the piano without ever taking a lesson or learning to read a note. Ma was often in the kitchen cooking and the house would smell great. One morning when I was little and spent the night at her home, I woke up to the smell of something delicious. I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen to find out what it was. Ma was browning a ground beef and sausage mixture. I asked Ma why she was making this so early in the morning and she said, “I make half the meat for the dogs and the other half for our sauce. The dogs love it!” I hadn’t noticed all three of the dogs sitting by the table, waiting patiently. “What lucky dogs to have this for breakfast!” I replied. I loved Ma’s sauce so much, she let me have it for breakfast. I had had breakfast for dinner, but not dinner for breakfast. I will always remember how fun it was to eat spaghetti with sauce early in the morning!
Now, I make sauce every first day of school . . . for dinner. It is a comfort food. It is comforting for me because I tear up from missing the kids as well as from thinking about Ma, and it is comforting for the kids to come home to a familiar meal. At dinner time, the first day excitement is felt as we pass garlic bread and talk about the happenings of each child’s day. Spaghetti with sauce, garlic bread, and a special dessert; the perfect way to end a first day and to start a new year.
- 1 lb (500g) ground beef – May substitute 1/2 – 1 can red kidney beans for a Vegetarian meal.
- 1/4 lb (125g) hot Italian sausage (bulk or cut off skin of sausage to mash into ground beef) Omit as Vegetarian option.
- 1 link hot Italian sausage – sliced (Omit if Vegetarian)
- (4) Tbs Extra Virgin olive oil
- (1/2) large bulb garlic – finely chopped
- (1) Tbs Italian seasoning
- (1/2) Tbs dried basil
- (1/2) Tbs dried oregano
- (2) Tbs dried parsely
- (1) 28 oz (793g) crushed tomatoes
- (1) 15 oz(425g) tomato sauce
- (1) 12 oz(340g) tomato paste – keep empty can to add 1 1/2 to 2 cans of water
- Salt/white pepper – to taste
- In large, heavy-bottom pan, heat olive oil on low and add garlic. Stir until golden yellow.
- Add meats and stir until browned thoroughly (Omit meat and add beans if Vegetarian option)
- Add seasonings and stir
- Add crushed tomatoes, sauce, and paste and stir
- Add water
- Stir well and keep on low heat, stirring regularly.
- Simmer for one hour.
Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy!