Weight Weight Just Love Me – Bolognese – Day 46

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT

Loving myself more is taking on more subtle nuances - just like my Bolognese.

Loving myself more is taking on more subtle nuances – just like my Bolognese.

I’ve been making spaghetti on Wednesdays for 43 years now.  When I was ten years old I offered to start making dinner for the family as both my parents worked and were tired when they got home. Plus I really enjoyed being in the kitchen.   I remember the recipe back then – toss onions, peppers, mushrooms, a tablespoon each of dried oregano, basil, and parsley, a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a pound of ground beef into a large stock pot.  Easy enough for a ten year old to do.  Then once that is all cooked, add in two large cans of stewed tomatoes, two large cans of tomato sauce and two small cans of tomato paste. Cover and cook on low for an hour or two (go out and play).  Come back in fifteen minutes before dinner.  Put a large pot of water on with a little salt and some oil.  Add in two boxes of regular spaghetti. Make a tossed salad with iceberg lettuce, hot house tomatoes, peeled cucumbers, some celery.  Get out the Italian salad dressing.   It served our family of eight – no leftovers (we rarely had leftovers).

I did not deviate from my mother’s recipe for decades (including the taking off to “play” while the sauce simmered).  Yes I tried out my Italian friend’s recipes for “Sunday sauce” where you make a stock of pork and beef bones – just was never the same as “Mom’s.”   But then I went to cooking school in Parma, Italy and got more into where my food came from. I had already started the shift to only grass fed beef when I raised my own cattle.  When I learned of the toxins now in canned tomato’s (from the canning process), I shifted to only fresh tomatoes. In Italy I learned how much more delicious fresh tomatoes’ roasted in the oven were over anything in a can.  And I also learned the concept of layering and just why a whole head of garlic sweated in some very good cold pressed olive oil was critical to a good Bolognese.  I discovered how grating a lemon peel and adding in the  juice of that lemon into the garlic right after the sweating, kept the essence of the garlic but took out the bite of too much garlic. I learned the value of both dried and fresh herbs and when to use them at different times to increase the complexity of the sauce.  My Mom had it right to add in the dried herbs in the sauté.   Now I put them in right after the lemon and crush them in my hands right before. Letting them roll around in that heating melee for a while while I dice a shallot into small bits. While I’m roasting the tomatoes, I also toss in the peppers.  Let the whole scene cool, and dice up the peppers first – into the growing layers they go.  The grass fed beef goes in after the peppers.  The last veggie to the scene are the cooled peeled roasted tomatoes I squeeze into the sauce by hand making sure the hard center part stays out.  After a half hour of getting to know each other then comes the flavoring – a little red wine, a little brown sugar, maybe a small dash of fish sauce, a little salt.  Right at the end, I put in about a half cup of finely chopped basil and some fresh oregano.

I was contemplating yesterday just how different my Bolognese is now vs. before.  The main ingredient for both is still love.  That is a constant in everything I do.  I grew up in suburbia and we got all our food from Stop and Shop.  We had a large pantry filled with canned goods.  Now I have access to an organic food co-op and every Wednesday they have a farmers market (that is if I have not grown all the ingredients myself).  Even in early November, I am still able to get organic heirloom tomatoes, peppers, shallots, garlic, basil, oregano.  I often have a hundred pounds or so of ground beef in my freezer from my latest grass fed cow.  I no longer have to prepare dinner for 8 – usually it’s just me and one or two others or just me.  Which means I get to enjoy this meal several more times.  So it helps that the sauce just keeps getting better as it ages.  Some folks get the nuanced difference of what I do, some do not.  It doesn’t matter much to me as I do and I’m the one who is enjoying it.

It’s nice to have decades long mastery in some basics that I keep building on and developing.  Loving myself more is becoming just like my Bolognese – getting more layered with enhanced subtle nuances where I most notice the difference upon reflection.


Kate’s comment: when you made the bolognese in Haines, it made me dance. It was that good. That food was definitely love.

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