Category Archives: Food

Feed The Soul

Food is like a cooling balm on an agitated soul. Nothing brings me back to center, back to peace like cooking.  There is something rhythmic and elegant about gliding through one’s kitchen adding this and chopping that.  My number one go to comfort food during times of stress is spaghetti.  For many this may be a jar of sauce and some noodles but for me this is a meal that touches my most inner spirit.

Although my mother is Jewish she has always made her spaghetti sauce from scratch.  To this day I have no idea where she learned to make spaghetti sauce. I don’t know if she found the recipe in a book or if some strange Italian woman bestowed her secrets.  My mother has just always known how to make it and she has never used a written recipe.  One of the first things my mother ever taught me to make was spaghetti sauce.  I have spent countless hours in my mother’s kitchen talking about school, work, life all while stirring a pot of tomatoes and herbs.  The strong smell of basil and oregano permeating the house.  The silent dance as we gathered boiling water, toasted French bread and tossed salad.  My mother and I have made this meal so many times together that instructions are no longer required. We quietly fall into our roles and the meal is produced as if by magic.

David and I face an ocean of uncertainty at the moment.  We both are pretending like we’re not worried.  We say encouraging things to each other, smile, hug, give each other big pep talks but the undercurrent in our lives right now is one of “what if”.  I plated the spaghetti and sat it on the table.  Little green piles of salad tossed in a simple vinaigrette snuggled up against the circle of pasta.  The kids told knock-knock jokes and David obliged them with smiles and giggles.  As I filled my stomach with my mother’s spaghetti sauce I was transported back to her kitchen and the feeling that my mother was hugging me from thousands of miles away.   Everything will be fine.

Life is always going to surprise you with riotous change but it is the simple foundational pieces of your life that will carry you along – like knowing how to make a good spaghetti sauce from scratch.

MaMa Callaway’s Spaghetti Sauce

1lb ground beef

1 small onion

3 garlic cloves

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 large cans of tomato sauce

1 can of tomato paste

3 Tbs Oregano

1 Tbs Basil

1 Tbs Garlic Salt

1 Tbs Sugar

Dice the onion, and mince the garlic. Sauté both in the bottom of a large stock pot with a Tbs of olive oil.  Add ground beef and brown while breaking up the meat.  Once the meat is cooked drain the fat off.  Return the meat to the pot and add the cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste (play with the sauce/paste combination until you get the consistency you like. I prefer mine thicker but it is personal).  Add spices – the quantities here are estimates and again you should flavor to your taste preferences.  Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes.   If desired you can also add mushrooms or diced zucchini.  Add them with the tomatoes and just make sure you simmer the pot long enough to cook the veggies.

Some Things To Try

October is a big party month for me.  David’s birthday is this month and our anniversary and my mother-in-law’s birthday and Halloween, etc, etc.  As a result I’m always on the look out for great fall snacks and treats that aren’t the typical orange cupcakes.  Here are some things that I want to try out this month:

Easy Cinnamon Rolls from Ezra Pound Cake

We’re a big breakfast family on the weekends.  I like getting up on Saturday mornings and making the full spread; bacon, eggs, toast, etc.  I’m looking forward to working these easy Cinnamon rolls into my rotation

Chocolate Croissants from Noble Pig

I love chocolate.  I love croissants. Chocolate croissants are the closest thing to food heaven I will ever attain. And the mere thought that I might be able to have these on demand at my own house is mind-boggling to me

Pumpkin Cookies from My Baking Addiction

I like to bring snacks to my students.  Some teachers might view that as bribery, others as patronizing.  I view it as just straight up logic.  If I feed them they are more likely to stay awake AND give me a good teacher eval.  You won’t believe how much positive feedback I’ve received from $30 worth of doughnuts.  Totally worth it.  I was thinking these cookies would be easy to double and bring to school.  If they go crazy for stale doughnuts, think about the response I’ll get with homemade cookies.

The Menu Of My Life


The Ohio summer air was warm and muggy.  My friend Vicki and I had spent the day perfecting our rollerskating skills on my driveway. I had white skates with a big blue stripe down each side, and large blue pom poms with bells in the middle.  Vicki and I were sweaty and tired and tumbled into the house eager for a snack.  Our young, awkward bodies scampered onto the bar stools near the kitchen.  We explosively giggled as we gobbled up bologna and cheese rolled up and secured with a toothpick.  We washed it down with the cool, sweet, sugary syrup of Kool Aid.  The simple textures and tastes of childhood.  Vicki and I debated our next move; Barbies or dress up?


John was handsome, popular, in drama club, and my first boyfriend. Why he chose to go out with  me instead of all the pretty girls in our school I still don’t know.  The mother of our friend Jamie owned a small cafe in town.  On Fridays she would open the cafe an hour early for Jamie and his friends to eat breakfast before school.  John used to always order coffee and it made him seem so grown up.  I desperately wanted to seem as mature and sophisticated as him but I couldn’t get past the bitterness of the coffee. I started ordering black tea. We sat around old restaurant tables with red vinyl chairs drinking coffee, tea and relishing homemade blueberry pancakes. For the first time in my awkward adolescence I belonged.


He didn’t have any money to take me out. I knew that. We sat across from each other in a  small deli and split a club sandwich and a bowl of broccoli cheese soup. It was cold outside and it didn’t feel all that much warmer sitting in the booth. I don’t think either one of us noticed. We talked about everything, nothing, and things that now no longer seem important.  The soup was warm, the sandwich simple and as we walked out of the restaurant I told him to kiss me. He did.


We collapsed on the small, stiff couch in the hotel room.  The “President’s Suite” was a disaster. The fireplace didn’t work and the toilet instantly overflowed.  This wasn’t at all how we imagined spending our wedding night.  I was still in my fairy tale dress and he in his tux.  I silently wandered into the bathroom and peeled off my wedding dress and slid on a pair of soft work out pants and a t-shirt.  I emerged from the bathroom to see him laying on the large bed holding two glasses of champagne and the stack of wedding cards.  I curled up snug next to him.  He handed me the champagne glass. We whispered, toasted, and the cold, sparkly, sweetness glided down my throat.  We laughed and told stories about our wedding as if we had been guests and not the people exchanging vows.  We delicately opened each card, reading the words out loud, and commenting on the giver.


The cramping had grown worst as the night progressed and by 5:00 AM I gave up trying to sleep.  I quietly crept out of the bedroom and into our over-stuffed recliner. I tried timing the pains but I never could determine starting and stopping times.  David poked his head out of the bedroom and said; “are you okay? Why are you up?” He never heard me wake up before so I was startled to see him standing there.  I sheepishly replied; “I’m having some contractions, but I don’t think it is anything big.” A big smile spread across his face and he said confidently; “you’re in labor”.  I thought it was rather smug of him to be so confident when he wasn’t the one having the pains and I was a good five weeks away from my due date.  He grabbed a blanket and curled up on the couch, “I’m going to lay down here with you. Wake me up if they get stronger.”  I closed my eyes and tried to ignore them.  The fact that this strategy hadn’t worked for the past four hours didn’t seem important.  By 7:00 AM I knew we were going to be making a trip to the hospital.  I methodically took a shower, shaved my legs, got dressed and stood in the kitchen.  They woudn’t feed me in the hospital so I had to eat now.  Nothing sounded good to eat.  The house was eerily quiet as I poured a bowl of Cheerios. The loud crunching in my mouth felt like an intrusion into the moment. I was becoming a mother. Soon my life would be something I couldn’t imagine.  The bowl ceremoniously clanked into the sink. I woke David and we drove to the hospital.


This is my entry for this month’s Write Away Contest at Scribbit.

Black Bean Enchiladas & Cinco De Mayo

Today is Cinco de Mayo, which is an annual Mexican festival honoring the defeat of the French. Being Texan and living so close to the border, and being American and generally disliking the French, Cinco de Mayo is widely recognized in these parts. In honor of this great Mexican tradition I thought I would share one of my favorite and cheapest Mexican meals; Black Bean Enchiladas. This has quickly become my go to meal for those nights when I forgot to plan for dinner. It is a great emergency dinner because nothing has to be defrosted and outside of the tortillas, none of the ingredients have to be “fresh”.

I love recipes that use so few ingredients
I love recipes that use so few ingredients

1 can of Black Beans, undrained
1 package of shredded American cheese
1 can enchilada sauce (or an enchilada sauce of your choice)
2 Tbs dried cilantro (or 4 Tbs fresh – it depends on your love of cilantro)
1 package of flour, fajita sized, tortillas (you can use corn, if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour beans into a mixing bowl with cilantro. Beat beans and cilantro with hand mixer (I use a stick mixer, which seems to work better, you can also use a food processor). Until the beans have become a dark paste (yes, it will look inedible). Using a spoon, line one tortilla with bean mixture and then sprinkle cheese on top. (Be careful not to overfill or you won’t be able to roll them up.) Roll up tortilla and place seam side down in a 9×13 (or 8×8, depending on how many you plan on making) baking dish. Repeat this process until you’ve filled your pan. Then pour the entire can (or jar) of enchilada sauce over all of the rolled/filled tortillas. Sprinkle the top with more cheese (I like a lot, but top it to your liking). Then bake for 30 minutes. Serve them topped with sour cream, chives, guacamole, jalapenos, or any of your favorite Mexican toppings.

Invite your friends, make some margaritas and toast our friends to the south who were kind enough to introduce us to the avocado and the Swine flu. Here are some other great Cinco de Mayo recipes to spice up your day:

Tamale Pie from Ezra Pound Cake
Carnitas from Homesick Texan
Mexican Cornbread from Noble Pig