Wednesday, November 7, 2007

So I was thinking

Last night I started some ground beef with peppers and onions. I asked the boys what they wanted for dinner after I’d already started. I realized that with those 3 ingredients could have started several things. Add beans, tomato sauce, chili powder etc (see earlier chili post) and you’ve got chili. Add tomato sauce, tomatoes and basil and oregano and you’ve got spaghetti. How can we not have ground beef in our fridges when dinner is right there?

When my sister and I were in highschool we did a lot of the cooking and grocery shopping for our family. My neighbor, Mr. Westbook, had a huge garden. Like a good neighbors all over the country, Mr. Westbrook shared his bounty with us. We would wake up and find a 5 gallon bucket of vegetables waiting for us. Toward the end of the summer we’d started getting tired of tomatoes with salt and pepper. Ever the experimenter I decided to put those tomatoes to work. I came up with this sauce that’s served over pasta and isn’t italian at all, so I hesitate to call it spaghetti. Lets call it summer vegetable sauce.

Start by browning 1 lb of GROUND BEEF. I prefer leaner ground round. Add 1 large ONION diced. Add 1 large GREEN PEPPER diced. Add 1 tablespoon CHOPPED GARLIC. Cook until vegetables are wilted. Add 8-10 FRESH TOMATOES peeled and diced. For best results, peel over the pot and allow juice to drop into the pot. Then squeeze the tomato into the pot. Chop the remainder (remove seeds if you’d like). Add 1 small can of TOMATO PASTE. Add 1/4 cup of RED WINE (of course I didn’t use this in highshool. I was drinking Boone’s Farm then!) Your taste may prefer more than 1 can of tomato paste. Add 1 tablespoon of SALT, PEPPER, OREGANO, THYME. Toast 1 teaspoon of FENNEL SEEDS and add. (You really need to toast them, surprisingly it’s that flavor you can’t put your finger on.) Chiffanade 5 or 6 BASIL LEAVES, or add 1 tbsp dried. This is weird but it works: add 1 dash of CINNAMON and 1/4 cup of SUGAR.
Let this stew, the longer the better. Serve with pasta of your choice or (weird again, but trust me!) over toasted French Bread.

This recipe can be made with canned tomatoes, which is what I did last night. This taste always reminds me of Mr. and Mrs. Westbrook. If only I could replicate her hummingbird cake!


wanda1234 said...

thanks for sharing.....

Entertainment at one stop

peggy said...

Leslie, I bought the Westbrook's house back in '96 (I think) when your Mama and Daddy were still living there. I remember the huge garden the Westbrooks used to have and the wonderful tomatoes. And of course I remember the incredible barbeque your Dad fixed! My husband and I heard your story on NPR last night. So glad to hear y'all are carrying on!