We spend so much time in our cars, going to and from places, that what time is left is squeezed by chores, and cooking time is complicated by the buying of food, storing it, preparing it. In my early days as a wife and mother, I could barely get home for dinner time, never mind having time to prepare a complicated meal that required more than five-ten minutes of preparation.
Often, we ended up picking up food and bringing it home.
Our first use of cell phones was not to check our status on Facebook, but to check with each other on what was on the way to pick up. Dinners were predictable take-outs, burgers, pizza, chicken, bbq, and occasionally a real restaurant meal to go.
So, picking up dinner was a no brainer.
On weekends, I dreamed of making real lasagna, or some simple bean and pasta dish the way my mother used to make. The problem was not that lasagna was not available through a take-out, but that no lasagna tasted as good as I remembered.
I came to the conclusion that on weekends I would make what I craved for and couldn't get anywhere else. I made sure to investigate ingredients as well, as not all sauces are the same, not all pasta has the same flavor.
As a retiree, I have so much leisure time than when I cook, which is often now, I make sure that what I cook is of the quality I crave, with ingredients that speak of the original dish. This is home-made tomato meat sauce I use for the lasagna. I gave this recipe before, but here it is:
Tomato Meat Sauce-for spaghetti,lasagna, manicotti....
1 C chopped onions
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
2 bay leaves
1lb ground beef (chuck)
1/2 lb Italian sausages, without the casing
1 large can of whole tomatoes, crushed just before adding it to the sauce. (Progresso)
1 small can of plain tomato paste (Contadina)
1 C red wine, your preference
salt and pepper to taste
1 beef bouillon cube
1 or more cups of water
Brown the sausages and the ground beef in the olive oil, in small batches, removing them with a slotted spoon until all meat has been browned. In the pan, brown the onions and add the minced garlic until golden. Add a cup of wine, scrape the bottom, and let the wine reduce for five minutes. Add the can of tomatoes reserving the juices to add later. Cook for ten minutes until all broken up. Add the tomato paste and mix it until incorporated. Add the tomato juice, the bouillon, and enough water to blend the sauce to the consistency you like. Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste and the meat you had removed from the pan. Reduce the heat and let it all simmer for at least twenty minutes, turning it often.
You can make this on a weekend and have your spaghetti any day of the week! My favorite pasta is DiChecco, btw.