Uncle Frank’s Italian Sausage

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Uncle Frank and his pilfered sausage making machine. It’s a whiz but he’s not sure where it came from or when it got there. It’s a mystery. If it’s yours, give him a call.

Another fabulous family cook pops out of the woodwork of our wacky family tree!  Uncle Frank is the husband of my mother’s younger sister, Dot.  He is a retired DC fireman, father of 10, currently a custom home builder, and (most important for our purposes here) a very good cook.  Lucky us!  Breakfasts at the Principe house would put an IHOP buffet – should an IHOP buffet serve Rapa brand scrapple – to shame… and that’s just on your standard Wednesday.  Breakfast not your thing?  Pfft! If you need a soup, Uncle Frank’s your man.  Other than one unfortunate incident where he went all not-in-a-good-way-free-form on a pot of pasta fazool (yes, I do have the memory of an elephant … a bizarre elephant but an elephant nonetheless), that man can toss things into a pot and come up with the most delicious combinations.

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Lunch Lady Pizza

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With much deference and a huge blop of literary license, I have dubbed this monstrous-good, locust-and-friends-favorite Lunch Lady Pizza.  I bow to those everyday superheros.  Cafeteria crews who work, day in and day out, to prepare and serve the (oftentimes not wonderful) goods provided them to the sometimes unappreciative (sometimes quite deservedly so) wee masses deserve our respect.   This pizza is easy, tasty, comforting, and budget-friendly… things the lunch ladies worry on our behalf about every day… and so I name it in their honor. Continue Reading

Strawberry Pa Looza!

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Angel food cake with roasted strawberries

Every Spring I look forward to two things of the verdant variety.  First is planting my pot garden (that still amuses me; for the easily scandalized among us, I am referring to my vegetable container garden) and the second, more reliable, is strawberry season.  I start trolling the pick-your-own farm websites at the beginning of May and then give a week or two to clear out the scary die-hard pickers (those folks that come in with their own containers, jam and jelly on their minds, and a sense of territory that would put a pit bull to shame).

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Taco Seasoning

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3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbs teaspoons ground cumin
3 tsp kosher salt
3 tsp black pepper

Put all ingredients into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake.  This will last a few months in the pantry.

If using for tacos, start with 2 tbs per pound of meat and add to taste. When I use 1 lb meat and 1 can (rinsed and drained) black beans, I use 3 tbs of taco seasoning.

 

The basics – Croutons

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I had the great fortune (and I do mean that) of growing up in a home where the preparation of nutritious delicious food made with love and served that way was the norm.  I never thought much about it until I started feeding my own family.  What we put into our bodies isn’t just fuel, it nourishes the entire being.  I would love to think that passing my recipes on to my children and those who may follow (no pressure!!) will pass that love along as well.

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Ham and Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf

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My relationship with meatloaf runs the gamut from love to hate depending on whose meatloaf it is.  First and foremost, anything called mystery meatloaf is out.  Served at a cafeteria?  Ditto. Any meatloaf made by a person who is less than particular about the sorts of ground parts than I am comfortable with (innards? animals not normally consumed in identifiable cuts? skin and feathers?  You hear me McDonald’s?! … oh, sorry, off on a toot.  Though in that vein, thank the gods they aren’t in the meatloaf business. Could you just imagine? I shudder to think).

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Lentils and Rice: Zhudra

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Sixty picture later, I’ve just given up.  It’s simply not a pretty dish. You’ll need to take my word that it’s delicious. Earthy lentils, bitter (in a good way) onions, and lots of black pepper combine to make one of my all-time favorite bean dishes.  It’s hearty and filling.  It’s even vegan if that’s your thing.  It’s a comfort dish that transports me to Aunt Myra’s kitchen and some warm happy memories.  She is a terrific cook and introduced my childhood to mint in green salads (that one took me a while to get used to), Syrian meatloaf, and this wonderful lentil dish.  Later in life she introduced me to jug wine but that’s a story for another time.

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