grandma’s spaghetti & meatballs

This is exciting; it’s the first posting of pictures from my new camera!  I received my beautiful Canon EOS Rebel T2i last Friday, just in time to be introduced to the world on a nice day hike/snowshoe from Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs (about an hour northeastish of Fairbanks).  We’d planned the day trip with another friend, as a bit of a last winter fling before spring break-up (the AK term for the season when all that snow out there melts) really sets in.

We started out with a couple mile hike to Angel Rocks, which is a really neat place full of unique rock formations that have formed on the hillsides.  There wasn’t much climbing around on rocks, since we all had snowshoes on, but I’d love to go explore a lil’ more another time.  We started out with a pretty vague agenda: get to Angel Rocks and see how we feel from there.  We felt good, so we decided to tackle the remaining trail to Chena Hot Springs, which made it an 8.5 mile trip.

There was a bit of trailblazing through waist-deep snowdrifts, but overall everything went smoothly.  We had a beautiful view from up at the top of the trail!  If only the wind had let up a bit so we could’ve stayed up there and enjoyed it a bit, but oh well.  I suppose it’s an even more special memory for the fact that it was appreciated so briefly.  After a few more hours, arriving at hot springs by the end of our hike was a much appreciated reward!

Now, on to the food!  We love the second-hand store here in Fairbanks.  I go there every Friday on my work break, and almost always find some surprise treasure.  Joe’s been hunting for some new sweaters, so recently we’ve been swinging by there a couple times a week, or whenever we’re doing errands.  Joe’s prized find last week was a pasta maker, in great condition.

We don’t eat much pasta.  The only noodles you’ll find in our cabin are soba noodles, and even those get eaten rarely.  I try to eat only grain products that have been soaked or fermented, and pasta sure doesn’t fall in that category.  But, Joe had this pasta machine, and he really wanted to try it out, so I thought of a pasta meal I could be excited about.  In the future we’re gonna try sourdough noodles, or noodles made with sprouted flour, but for the first go around, we kept things simple.  One surprise: I didn’t realize homemade pasta had so much egg in it!  Knowing the noodles had a good dose of healthy protein made me enjoy them a bit more.

But I’m not sharing the pasta recipe.  It was good, but we’ll come up with a healthier one before too long.  For now, I’m sharing the part of the meal that excited me a whole lot more: my grandma’s spaghetti & meatballs.  For much of my life, I would’ve told you I hated spaghetti.  It’s one of my dad’s favorite meals, so we ate it many times growing up, and I always found it boring and not all that tasty.  Something about the ground meat mixed into the tomato sauce just didn’t appeal to me; I would sometimes ask my mom to keep a bit of the sauce separate for me before she added meat to the rest.

Then my mom tried this recipe, from a much-loved cookbook my grandma had put together.  And suddenly, there was a spaghetti I liked!  The sauce was perfect, thick and smooth and flavorful, and the meatballs were hearty and also deliciously flavorful.  From that point on, my “I hate spaghetti” stance was a bit more moderated.

Joe & I still had a bit of ground moose frozen, left from making empanadas.  Since the days are warming up and we’re reaching the end of being able to stick things outside and keep them frozen without any effort, we’ve been trying to eat up our frozen food.  We’re also leaving Fairbanks in a couple weeks for our summer jobs, so have another good reason to eat the food we’ve got laying around.  So, when Joe got his pasta machine, and I was brainstorming what kind of pasta dish we could make that sounded good to me, I thought of that moose meat and immediately went to grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs.

I barely tweaked the sauce recipe; it’s mostly the same as what came from grandma’s Kentucky kitchen.  The original meatball recipe calls for grated parmesan cheese, which, my mom insists, is what makes it so yummy, but of course that wasn’t an option for us.  If you’d like to add some, go ahead and throw in a quarter cup or so.  If you’re not a meat-eater, I’ve seen lentil “meatball” recipes that I’m interested in trying, or you could just make the sauce; it’s absolutely delicious by itself!

Grandma’s Spaghetti & Meatballs
serves 4

olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz crushed tomatoes
6 oz tomato paste
1-2 cups water
1 tsp basil
1 Tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp evaporated cane sugar
1 tsp oregano
fresh ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pan.  Saute onion and garlic until transparent.  Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 2 hours, adding a bit of water to adjust thickness if needed.

1/2 pound ground meat
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (we used some of our whole wheat sourdough)
2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup milk (we used coconut milk, since it was the only non-dairy milk around, and, although it seemed a bit weird at first, it totally worked fine)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and use your hands to mix thoroughly.  Shape into about 24 meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until cooked through.  Gently add to the sauce and cook for about 10-15 minutes more.

Enjoy!!! 🙂

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3 Responses to grandma’s spaghetti & meatballs

  1. Great photos and a great recipe!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thrifting for kitchen equipment is the best, isn’t it? I personally have an ever-growing thrifted glass collection. And your spaghetti sounds wonderful! 🙂

  3. A classic! Congrats on the new camera! I want a new camera :(.

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