Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Yes You Can: Make Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Can you hear it calling?

I’m about to do you a favor. You’re going to use my Grandma Forsythe’s spaghetti sauce recipe for the rest of your life. You’re going to pass it down to your children–and they’ll pass it on to theirs. This is why:

  • This spaghetti sauce is amazingly tasty
  • It’s super easy–it just needs simmer time
  • Also: quite cheap
  • You don’t need a lot of tools: a cutting board, knife, frying pan, pot, and spoon should do it
  • It will make your house smell amazing

This is one of my go-to recipes that has seen me from my first apartment in college to present-day dinner parties with out-of-town guests. Everyone (who eats meat) loves it!

I’ve altered the recipe just a tad over the years–the original called for vegetable shortening and garlic salt. Also, this is actually part of my Grandma Forsythe’s fabulous lasagna recipe–and it is fabulous, rich and delicious and perfect for potlucks or families with new babies. But making lasagna is a pain, and making spaghetti is easy and still quite rewarding. So let’s get to it.

Grandma Forsythe’s Sumptuous Spaghetti Sauce

Makes enough sauce for at least two pounds of pasta

You Need:

2-4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large (28 oz) cans tomato sauce
3 teaspoons dried oregano
3 teaspoons dried basil
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water with bouillon cube (I usually use a cup of water with a teaspoon of beef “Better Than Bouillon,” or a cup of chicken stock, or water in a pinch)
1 lb ground beef
1 lb mild Italian sausage

Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Saute the onions and garlic until soft. Add the next six ingredients. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered.

In a frying pan, saute the ground beef and Italian sausage until cooked through. Drain and add to the sauce. Simmer for another 1 1/2 hours, partially covered.

Put a large pot of water on to boil, and then cook spaghetti according to the package directions. Toss with sauce, then top with a little additional sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Lasagna Variation

Serves at least 12

You Need:

1 lb ricotta cheese
1 lb mozzarella cheese
Parmesan (unspecified: I use at least 1 cup)
1/2 box lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil lasagna noodles according to package directions and spread out on cookie sheets. Place 1/4 of the sauce in the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ pan. Place a third of the noodles over the sauce and top with 1/2 of the ricotta and mozzarella, and 1/3 of the parmesan. Repeat with 1/4 sauce, 1/ 3 noodles, 1/2 of the ricotta and mozzarella, and 1/3 of the parmesan. Finish with a layer of noodles, the remaining sauce, and the remaining parmesan cheese. To make ahead: refrigerate at this point if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (longer if refrigerated). Let set 20 minutes before serving. Mangia!

Maureen O'Hara

Happy Monday! Horror Movies and Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O'Hara

Don’t tell me what to do, Mitch!

Happy Monday! Hope your weekend was relaxing and/or productive. I spent mine finally slipcovering the post in our basement (I’ll post photos when it’s finished). My folks covered it in foam to baby proof it oh, about . . . six months ago? Yes, I suck. But I suck more because I put the batting on it a month ago, so baby Sarah has been trying to grab handfuls of it for months while I kept forgetting to go buy an upholstery needle. Today is the day, my friends!

Are you ready for Halloween? I have two costumes half finished, both of which are halfway inappropriate for a 40-year-old woman, but I’ve decided this might be my last hurrah: nursing has left me skinny with boobs, I’ll surely never look like this again.

On to our links!


Looking to watch some horror flicks to get into the Halloween spirit? Check out 20 Netflix Horror Movies Worth Watching.

Want to experience a different type of horror? Maureen O’Hara, an amazing, spirited actress, died this week, so I wanted to watch one of her movies. I found McLintock! on Hulu, and holy father of the patriarchy! That is an unpleasant film, especially the end, where O’Hara’s character–a women who left her husband because he cheated on her–is chased through town while her dress ripped off, while the whole town cheers (including her daughter), until her husband catches her and spanks her! In public! With a coal shovel! And then she has to chase him down and hop on the back of his buggy to get home. Yeahhhh. I should’ve broken my rule and watched A Miracle on 34th Street instead.

I wanted to watch the original Parent Trap, but it’s not available for streaming anywhere–yet, that is. Turns out Disney will launch their own subscription-based service (in Europe, but likely also in the US), and yes, I’ll probably pony up!

How Not to Behave

If you want to learn how not to behave in a restaurant, or want to commiserate with fellow restaurant employees, make sure to read Behind Closed Ovens on Kitchenette every Monday morning. This week’s entry, More of the World’s Worst Restaurant Customers, Part 2, made my blood boil in a satisfying way.

In honor of fall and delicious cold-weather food, I’ll be posting my Grandma Forsythe’s famous spaghetti sauce recipe later today–keep your eyes peeled!

Christmas in October

Christmas in October: I Am Part of the Problem

Christmas in October

My brother BJ and me at the downtown Meier & Frank with the real Santa. He knew our names, guys.

I have a confession to make: I was listening to Christmas music with Sid two days ago. Yes, 10 days before Halloween. What is wrong with me?

Now, if you know me, you know Christmas is a big deal in my family, I love Christmas, my brother loves Christmas. When he and I lived together, our combined enthusiasm for holiday decorations, food, activities, events, movies, and songs could be seen from space.

Cone Santa

Cone Santa with Sid–a copy of the Santa my grandma made for her kids, which I made for Beej. I included a letter of introduction that explained his backstory, which included a falling-out with his brother over Cone Mrs. Santa.

It stems from our parents. Dad was always in charge of getting the lights on the house–just right–and cutting down our Christmas tree. My mother, in addition to sewing and crafting and cooking all kinds of holiday goodies for us, spent hundreds of hours making hand-sculpted and -painted dough art ornaments that she would sell. Each year was different: clowns with little pleated ribbon ruffs! Baby Jesus in a walnut-shell manger! Teddy bears wearing little diapers (with tiny safety pins!) seated on baby blocks holding tiny hearts bearing impossibly small, hand-painted sayings!

Now you see where my obsessive nature comes from.

Christmas Star Wars Ornaments

More Christmas stuff I made for . . . um, my brother. What, these are awesome. They’re brother and sister, too!

I grew up in the ’80s, in a neighborhood where a lot of the moms still stayed home (including mine) and organized huge undertakings like a babysitting co-op and sharing a fruit dehydrator (before they discovered their children would not eat banana chips, because barf). The big yearly event was a Christmas bazaar that would be held in a different home each year.

Christmas Comics Ornaments

Decoupage comics Christmas ornaments I made with my friends Rachel and Kenna.

I still remember the magical year when we hosted the holiday bazaar, which still stands out in my memory as the best Christmas ever. Our house, always clean, was scoured and rearranged into a picture of holiday perfection never achieved before or since. Fudge for sale in the kitchen (I will only eat fudge at Christmas, and it must be my mother’s). Handmade stuffed animals in the living room. And best of all: jewelry in my room. The display included a special holiday-scented votive candle that made my room smell amazing, and my desk was cleared to make room for those little velvet neck display things, where some truly monumental hand-beaded monstrosities were shown to their best advantage.

Christmas Village

A small corner of my dad’s vast Christmas village. My brother and I set up an epic battle between Darth Vader and Veronica Mars (small bust in pink). This was 2009, guys.

But still! While I love Christmas, I do try to restrain myself until the day after Thanksgiving! Except the year my brother surprised me with Christmas bathroom (he put a Santa cover on the toilet, people). But when Sid and I went to Home Depot Wednesday, we were seduced by the garish and amazing Christmas displays. We started talking about why Christmas is such a big holiday (my three points to Sid: 1. retailers make lots of money on it, 2. it’s the most important religious holiday of the most prominent religion in our country, and 3. people like to relive happy holiday memories with their friends and family), I accidentally drove us to Vancouver, WA (missing all the exits to Portland on I-205), and then. When we got home. I turned on my “Baby it’s Cold Outside” Pandora station. Just for like an hour.

Darth Veronica Mars Showdown

Logan’s gonna go psycho on Darth Vader!

It’s cool. We can stop whenever we want! I just used AirPlay on my phone to show Sid me and my brother’s favorite local Christmas commercials, from the now-defunct PayLess Drugs. That’s not a problem. Right?

Unloved Stove

Ode to an Unloved Stove

Unloved Stove

Our last moments together–goodbye and good luck, stove top!

Dear Stove,

I never loved you. I didn’t hate you, certainly, but when we bought this house, you were not a big selling point, other than that you use gas and have the expected number of burners.

I always expected to replace you someday–I mean, why keep a stovetop over a cabinet when I could replace you with a full range with an oven–bringing me, with my wall oven, into an exalted realm of cooking?

But looking at you now, I realize I never really appreciated your service. My cleaning of you was indifferent, to say the least. But we’ve cooked together for nearly four years now (!!!) and I’ve never thanked you.

So thank you. For countless pots of soup and broth. For all the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese we’ve made. Thank you for the French toast, pancakes, bacon, ham, and sausage you browned so efficiently.

Thank you for all the ice cream bases we’ve made. For the hundreds of dinners and parties and comic book signing events. For the chops and chicken and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.

Thank you for the bushels of sauteed veggies, for the gallons of pasta sauce, for the oatmeal and hot chocolate and lemon curd and ganache and eggs and burgers.

Especially thank you for the brunches–at least 16 by my count. You worked really hard on those.

We worked together for the last time late last night, as you heated the milk, butter, and sugar for this morning’s cinnamon rolls (they’re awesome, by the way). I think it was a fitting way for you to go out.

I hope someone will find a use for you in the future, dear, unloved, GE stove top. You can use this post as a letter of recommendation if needed.


My Kitchen Is a Phoenix


I’m losing a cabinet, but gaining an oven. I’m. So. Excited.

 No school for Sid and it’s the last day before my kitchen is out of commission for a couple days, so he and Sarah are supervising while I make spaghetti sauce and toast panko for chicken cutlets. I’ll probably (shh) make some cinnamon rolls, too–I like to have coffee and pastries ready when we have folks working on the house.

Yes, folks, it’s a very special time in my life: my first kitchen remodel. The counter tile over the dishwasher started falling off this summer, so we’re getting new countertops.

But. Even more exciting: I’m getting a second oven. My lifelong dream! Our current setup is a wall oven, and then a rangetop over an IKEA cabinet. We’re gonna rip out that cabinet, slide in a regular gas stove/oven, and then I’ll be able to host Thanksgiving (or bake twice as many cookies at a time) whenever I want! Yay!

Tomorrow the guys are coming to rip out our present countertops and cabinet, and Joel Lonborg (an amazing guy who has done all the work on the house for us, including when our basement flooded right before Memorial Day weekend 2013) warned me that I won’t be able to cook or do dishes for a couple days.

I don’t really know what those words mean–I can tell it’s a sentence, but my brain won’t comprehend it? But I see sushi in my future.

Anyway: here’s a shot of our kitchen now (our backsplash was removed so the counter guys could make a template), and I’ll post pics as we go forward. Also, if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, I can’t recommend Joel and his company, All in One Restoration and Maintenance, enough. They’re talented, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and do great work.

Twin Peaks Dinner Party

Happy Monday*! Clown Motels, Donut Bread Pudding, #SCOIP & More

Donut Bread Pudding with chocolate sauce. Serve it warm topped with vanilla ice cream and life your best life. Oprah approves.

Happy Monday*! I’m writing this post now because I had a rough night with Sarah. She’s been sleeping through the night for the past four-plus months (yes, I’m spoiled), but with her top two teeth coming in, she’s been waking up in the middle of the night crying–she didn’t get back to sleep for two hours last night, so she slept in, and so she missed her morning nap (Mommy Writing Time), and so here we are. Wow, that was a fascinating story. Next: would you like to see the 5,000 pictures of my kids that I took in the past two days?

*This was then bumped to Tuesday after I got sidetracked by sewing questions and started researching ribbed trim. I am a laugh a minute!

Moving right along:

Clown Motel

This gets its own subheading because it is one of the coolest projects I have ever seen. Let me explain: No, there is too much. Let me sum up–my friend and comic book writer Christopher Sebela (We(lcome Back, High Crimes) created a Kickstarter to live at a Clown Motel for a month. It was funded in four hours. Here’s the video:

Tonopah, NV is an incredibly long drive from Portland (12 and a half hours), and the hotel is weirdly amazing. It’s adjacent to a pioneer cemetery full of miners, there are dozens of feral cats, and actual clowns showed up the other night. Sebela’s updates are priceless–there’s a week left for you to follow him on Twitter and experience living in a Clown Motel for yourself.


It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast–and not just because I got to guest host once! This is an excellent, fast-moving, action-packed podcast that effortlessly takes all the ins and outs of the X-Men (and related superhero entities) and makes them accessible–and entertaining–for both diehard fans and newbies alike. Trust me, you’ll feel both geekier and smarter after you listen.

So I was incredibly excited when they announced SECRET CONVERGENCE ON INFINITE PODCASTS, a nine-episode crossover event combining more than 15 hosts from Fan Bros Show; Into It; SILENCE!; Less than Live; Journey into Misery; Wait, What?; House to Astonish, War Rocket Ajax, and Rachel & Miles X-Plain the X-Men, airing October 29-November 29.

While I’ve been aware of War Rocket Ajax, I haven’t listened to any of the other podcasts–I might go through and select an episode from each before #SCOIP begins. I’ll let you know!

Twin Peaks: Fun Donut Times

After the fun and excitement of our Twin Peaks dinner party, we threw a Twin Peaks brunch this past weekend! I’ll have a separate post on that later, but in the meantime, I found a recipe to use up leftover donuts when your husband buys way too many donuts for a brunch: this Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding was amazing. I just used plain glazed donuts from the grocery store.

That’s all I have for now–as usual, I have a million posts running through my head (Star Wars!) and I can only hope to catch them and type them up.

10 Item Wardrobe Silk Trouve Blouse

Quality Clothes?!?

10 Item Wardrobe Silk Trouve BlouseHey everyone! Sorry for the unexpected hiatus. I have a ton of ideas rattling around–half-finished posts about my brother’s baby shower and Anne of Green Gables as a feminist tome, as well as recipes, but right now I want to ask you about quality clothes: where the heck do you find them?

A couple years ago I decided it was time to class it up and bought some blouses. Like a lady. My favorite was a silk blouse I got at Nordstrom on sale. It was perfect. I wore it until I was six months pregnant!

Anyway, I was wearing it out to lunch yesterday (because it’s the perfect item to wear for any occasion), when my friend pointed out … a small hole in the back, where the sleeve meets the body of the garment.

I went to mend it last night, but as soon as I saw it, I knew my blouse’s days were numbered. The silk was shredded. I did a quick fix by hand, but I’m only stalling the inevitable.

Ugh! On the one hand, I’ve had this blouse for two years and I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it. On the other, I was hoping it would last for five years!

Do I have unrealistic expectations, or should I be looking at other brands? The blouse was by Trouve.

Dear readers: recommendations? Do you have brands or items of clothing that have stood the test of time? Please enlighten me!