The cuckoo clock at my grandparent’s home hung high on the wall in the living room above the television set. I can remember being thrilled every time the bird would jump out of the little door and chirp at the top of each hour.. Four chirps would proclaim that it was four o’clock. Sometimes if we were busy playing and were not in the same room, Grandma would say, “ It’s almost time for the birdie.” and I would take my place on the floor below and await his appearance.
When I grew up and had a home of my own I knew that I would have to have my own cuckoo clock. Through the years my children were accustomed to its hourly proclamations, and it never ceased to take me back in time.
When my daughter began dating I decided we were not going to fuss about her being a minute or two late every weekend, or what time her watch said versus what time our home clock said, etc, so I made this basic rule. Curfew is 11 o’clock. The bird comes out at 11 0’clock and before he gives his final 11th chirp you have to be in the door. Period. Well, she was a good girl and followed rules very well, but believe me there were a few times when the bird was getting ready to close in his wings and she would be flying through the door. Now that I look back, it was a simple yet effective rule. Later, one of her friends suggested that she should have duct taped the door shut. But she never did. She knew Mom was way too wise for that!
The simplicity of a pleasant childhood memory passed down to your own family to enjoy is exactly what many of us do when we share recipes.
Now I have to admit I am not the best person to share my recipes. Well, at least not the “famous” ones. You know, the ones that you take to social functions and everyone rants and raves about thinking you are the best cook since Martha Stewart. Looking through my files this morning I noticed that
I always write the date and the name of the person who gave me the recipe on the top right corner of my card. But all of my handed down recipes aren’t neatly written on 3×5 index cards. Some are on napkins, the back of a church bulletin, and the one I am sharing with you today, given to me by a dear elderly lady named Hazel who worked for me in my restaurant years ago, was written on a cardboard box. Hazel, who always wore a very neatly ironed dress and apron and pinned back her hair with bobby pins, always liked coming to work at an early 5 a.m. This way she could make homemade noodles, pies, and sauces and be out the door and headed for home,” before it gets too hot”, she would say. I remember the very day she gave me this spaghetti sauce recipe. I was sitting on a stool watching her make it and I asked her to give me the recipe. “I really don’t have a recipe,” she said “ I just put things in.” I quickly grabbed a box that was sitting close by, tore off a hunk of it and grabbed a pen and told her as she was putting the ingredients in to tell me the amounts . To this day, some 27 years later, that is how that recipe appears in my files.
It’s fading ink and worn brown image brings a smile to my face each and every time I run across it, and I think fondly of a lady who taught me how to make many wonderful dishes.
A little on the sweet side, with a small amount of spice, it was a sauce that made the spaghetti definitely like the lady who made it.
Hazel’s Spaghetti Sauce Recipe ( large batch)
4 lbs. Ground beef
1 lb. Ground sausage
3 cups water
1 small finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves
3 cups tomato puree
12 oz. Tomato paste
3 teasp. Salt
1 teasp. Pepper
1/2 teasp. Cumin
1 Tblsp. Sugar
Basil ( measure to your liking of this herb)
Brown the beef,sausage and onion in a little olive oil in a dutch oven or deep heavy pan. Add the tomato sauce and puree. Stir well. Add salt,garlic cloves,pepper,cumin, basil and sugar. Mix well. Add the water.Bring to a hard boil, then turn down and simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.