Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No, I don't think she got asked to the Prom...

She was kind of a Plain Jane. Every one's friend, no one's girlfriend. You know, like 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride" type of deal.

I failed miserably at my attempt to clean out my pantry. I had made a 'resolution' to use up what was in my pantry and freezer, only buying fresh ingredients and those staples that I needed on a regular basis-flour, sugar, tuna. I failed. I have this odd neurosis-I am afraid we are going to starve. I really don't know if this is somehow attributed to the stories of my youth about how there wasn't enough food to go around when I was really young. How my Mom would sit out on the porch with a cup of coffee, while my Dad and sister ate, and I picked through the few things I liked.

I don't really remember those times. I remember bits and pieces of life before, say, 7 years old, but not very many things. I remember bugging the crap out of my Mom to let me open a birthday present before my Dad got home from work. I must have driven her crazy, because I remember her letting me open a pair of musical spoons. Do you remember those? They were two spoons with the rounded sides facing each other, and the handles were cemented into a piece of plastic. You would hold them in one hand, slap them against your knee while holding your other hand above them. They would slap between your hand and your leg and make magical noise.

I remember waiting for my Dad to come home from work. He worked at Ford Motor Company in St. Paul. At this time we were living in Baldwin Wisconsin. It was probably 50 miles away. He would come home and strip down to his skivvies and undershirt and I would strip down to my undershirt and panties and on special days he would bring home a little smoked salmon. We would sit on the couch and I wanted to be just like him in my t-shirt and underpants and watch TV. We had an old Black and White console, that had a record player and radio on the other side of the television.

I remember the television repair man who was crippled. I don't know if he had arthritis, or some other illness, but I remember him being nice.

I remember Susie and Sally, the twins that lived across the street, across the open field. They were blond and so pretty.

I remember being at their house and seeing the moving van in our front yard. No one had told me we were moving-the van was just there, and people were moving our few belongings into it and soon we were on our way to St. Paul-to a house that was finally ours. No more renting. We had a yard and my Dad built a sandbox and bought us a Jungle Jym. And I never moved again until I was almost 18 years old and moved in with my Mom.

I never remember us being poor.

In my adult life, we haven't been poor. We haven't had to use an emergency shelter, or use a food bank. We have been broke and couldn't afford things, but we could always make our house payment and all the regular bills we had. We had setbacks. Dude lost his job of 18 years and all of a sudden, I was the primary breadwinner, making a whopping $14 an hour. We had two teenagers, orthodontist bills, clothes, sports equipment, insurance, cell phone bills. We made it through.

I lost my job. Dude was a temporary employee at the cereal plant. We had no health insurance, I willed that my kids wouldn't get sick and we did without presents at Christmas with the exception of a few for the girls.

I am now sitting here wondering if I will lose my job due to my elbow. I know that sounds like I am paranoid, but there has been weird conversations and innuendos and, well, just stuff.
I am now successfully making due with the pantry. I have had to buy some meat, but only on sale.
I have never made pasta sauce before. For two bucks, I could buy a jar of pasta sauce. Work is done, and sometimes it is cheaper than making from scratch. I looked in the cupboard and found many cans of whole, peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste.... and on and on.
I stood looking at the cupboards at 3 PM. Dude was on his last week of day shift as his wrist had healed and he was headed back to nights. Drama Queen was working at the dry cleaners and would be home in a couple hours. Think, Tami, think.
I saw tomatoes, paste, some pasta. I had some cooked ground beef in the fridge. I dumped some stuff together and prayed for the best.
She was a little plain, but she filled our bellies with warm food.
Baked Pasta
1-28oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
1-15 oz can of tomato sauce
1-12 oz can of tomato paste
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt and pepper
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1/2 pound cooked mostacciola (I think that was what it was)
1 cup shredded cheese-your choice

In saucepan, combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, garlic, sugar, basil, oregano, onion powder and red pepper flakes. Crush the tomatoes down with potato masher. Simmer over low heat for 1-1/2 hours. Stir in ground beef and simmer for half an hour. Pour cooked pasta into an 8x8 or 9x9 square glass pan. Top with tomato sauce mixture and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.
Serve with a green salad and bread.
It wasn't perfect. To me the sauce was too tomato-ey. Dude said I was crazy as that was what it should be like. Maybe all those years of jarred sauce makes me crave a little smoother, sweeter sauce.
I shall play with this recipe. But we went to bed with full bellies and that is what it is all about.


Alea said...

What a wonderful, touching post! I love experimenting from the pantry - that is how some our family favorites have been created. The Baked Pasta looks delicious!

Debbie said...

Really enjoyed your post. It's nice to get to know the people behind the blog! Thanks for sharing some of your memories!

Ali said...

Thank you for sharing your life and your recipes.

The Captain's Daughter said...

What a grateful post. It's true... never been wealthy, but have thankfully never been without shelter or food.

Remember... The job will resolve itself. What is meant to be will be. And, if I may... They'd be foolish to let you go!

Anonymous said...

What a very real and heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing.. So touching. And your pasta dish sounds perfect.

grace said...

you'll make it through, tamilyn--i don't know you much at all, but even i can tell you've got grit. and good food senses. yeah, you're gonna be all right. :)

Hungry Dog said...

I really like this post, although I wish you weren't so worried about work. I hope you don't lose your job. It's so rough out there now.

The pasta looks great. Nothing plain about it, except maybe plain delicious!

Pam said...

What a touching post...it's fun to remember our childhood.

When I make homemade tomato sauce I always add a bit of sugar to counter the acid in the tomatoes. Just a touch does wonders.

Full bellies is what matters most. Take care Tamilyn - I am sending good thoughts your way.

Monica H said...

What a beautiful post Tami. THank you for sharing a but of your life with us.