Monthly Archives: December 2011

Gravy. Mmmm, mmmm GOOD!

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-AmericanGRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Braciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.

GRAVY IS RED.

© 2011 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010. Reposted.

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The Historic Village at Allaire

After a calorie-laden breakfast at IHOP, where I consumed more calories than I do in one day (or more), my husband and I took a ride to Allaire State Park in Farmingdale, New Jersey.

We visited the Historic Village and had a much-needed walk.  Even though it was a nippy 28 degrees, we enjoyed the quiet and the quaint 19th century settlement.

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© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. 

My Original Snow Village – It’s Christmas Time Again!

Growing up my mom always decorated our house in full Christmas regalia.  She showcased her ceramic brilliance and creative knack at putting together a Christmas display to rival anyone’s.

So after I got married my husband wanted to start a collection of Department 56 Christmas collectibles.  We decided on The Original Snow Village because it was full of fun and style.  Our first piece was Kris Kringle’s Toy Shop coupled with a Hot Cocoa take-away and our collection grew from there.

Now it has grown into a massive undertaking (to put up and to take down) taking  days to assemble in just the right way.  In 5 minutes my cats destroy it!

Bailey walks right through knocking down lamp posts and people impeding his path.  Peaches enjoys plopping down in the middle of a square and loves to watch the animated dancers in the Starlite Ballroom.  This year we have a kitten – that can only lead to disaster – I’ll keep you posted.

Ah… Starbucks!
A Little Residential
It’s A Wonderful Life
Kris Kringle’s
The Train Station, Fire Station….
2 Levels
The Winery & Lodge
Le Musée
The Park
The Tree
The Bungalow
At The Movies
From Above
Side View

Any bets on how long it stays intact?

Merry Christmas!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Re-posted December 2011.