Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Really all I was wishing for last night was spot to plop down on the couch with my warm rice pack and blanket, but I had already postponed my cooking plans one day. The kids were coming for dinner tomorrow and were expecting sauce and meatballs. Once I got started, I was fine. I really do love cooking. There is something about putting on an apron and making a mess in the kitchen. Creating something that others enjoy eating gives me a sense that all is well in the world. I can comfort and nourish the ones that I love the most is nourishment for my soul. The wonderful aroma, the simmering, the stirring, ah… home cooking.
I was elbow deep in meatballs, kneading in the spices and parmesan cheese when my mind wandered back twenty five or more years. When we were first married and lived near our families, Sundays meant spaghetti and cards at my mother in laws. It was a group effort with the Italian aunts coming over early to help with the meatballs and sausage. There were discussions about seasoning, how much bread to add, and what size should we make the meatballs. It was a loud and lively setting. Each aunt had her own little trademark, a slightly different zip in the meatballs. Aunt Carmela even pinched off a smidgen and tasted the raw mixture. Raw hamburger and raw eggs in the same bite! That is where I draw the line. The meatballs and sausage had to brown, but not burn. This browned meat especially good HOT sausage gave the sauce the right flavor. The giant pot simmered all day with an occasional stir or sample taken. There was always plenty to go around and the dinner invitation was open to anyone who stopped by.
Today I am thankful for all I learned from these good cooks. I loved the ease and confidence to add a dash of this and that and lots more garlic. I grew up in house with lots of home cooked meals and opportunities to help out or try a recipe on my own. So I was comfortable in the kitchen, but it was my mother in law who taught me to experiment, to kick it up a notch. I like to bake also, but with baking following the measurements are much more critical. Cooking comes with a certain amount of creative freedom that empowers the cook. Bang, I’m Emeril!
Today I am thankful for spaghetti night at our house. Today I am thankful for five of us gathered around the table. Today I am thankful all I have learned and continue to learn. I didn’t take a bite of raw meatball mix and the sauce didn’t simmer all day, but I believe the aunts would be proud of the “Italian” in me.