toxic masculinity or road rager?

Do you know who this driver is? I seriously almost hit 911 on my phone and I don’t talk on my phone, I don’t text on my phone, I don’t do anything on my phone when I’m driving other than listen to music.

I first encountered him when I was at the light on W. King Rd. waiting to turn left on Sproul. There is a left turn arrow, no right turn from across the King and 352/Sproul intersection.

When I approached the light it was red. Then it changed to green with the left turn green arrow. I had my signal on I started to proceed through the intersection. As I am proceeding through the intersection, this guy driving a Volvo wagon decides he’s going to not have a turn signal on, but he’s going to turn right as I’m turning left. So I beeped my horn.

I made it through the intersection and he immediately hopped on my tail so close there couldn’t have been 5 inches between his front bumper and my rear bumper. And he did this all the way down 352/Sproul including when I had to stop for a UPS truck and then there was a mail truck on the other side.

He did this bumper speed up kind of tailgate at me all the way down the road. I have never experienced in my life something to come so close to road rage, and it was kind of scary. (And I was thinking to myself is this what people call toxic masculinity?)

He pulled up alongside me when I was at the light at the bottom of the hill at 3252 facing the Linden Hall townhouses. He rolls down his window and told me “I needed to get a clue.”

I looked at him and I said “I don’t know what you’re talking about you have a no turn on red there and I was going through the intersection legally.” He then proceeded to curse me out and give me the finger so I took his photo. As I was taking his photo he told me “Here’s a photo for you!” and kept giving me the finger. There were some verbal expletives thrown in, and I’m not really sure what or in what order because I was just trying to keep my calm, truthfully.

When I first moved to Chester County, I don’t remember people being this way. It’s sad and scary that this kind of behavior is considered acceptable. This man could have harmed me, and almost did with his vehicle.

If I had gotten his license plate I would have gone straight to the police. As it was, I had to pull into a parking lot to stop shaking. I hope he treats his friends and family better than he treated me.

Be safe out there.

it’s about the mural

I have always been a big believer in mural arts projects because I think they are just so cool. Literally art in unexpected places.

We drove past this on our way home from my COVID shot #2. I think it’s beautiful and I will have to go back at some point with a regular camera to take better photos.

Thank you West Chester. With all the bleak and bleary of the last year, this was literally kind of joyful to see. And as a woman, the subject matter was awesome.

Happy Friday. (And yes, COVID shot #2 is less fun, but it’s done and I am distracting myself with things like this.)

time passages

Time Passages by Al Stewart.

It was late in December, the sky turned to snow
All round the day was going down slow
Night like a river beginning to flow
I felt the beat of my mind go
Drifting into time passages
Years go falling in the fading light
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Well I’m not the kind to live in the past
The years run too short and the days too fast
The things you lean on are the things that don’t last
Well it’s just now and then my line gets cast into these
Time passages
There’s something back here that you left behind
Oh time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
Hear the echoes and feel yourself starting to turn
Don’t know why you should feel
That there’s something to learn
It’s just a game that you play
Well the picture is changing
Now you’re part of a crowd
They’re laughing at something
And the music’s loud
A girl comes towards you
You once used to know
You reach out your hand
But you’re all alone, in these
Time passages
I know you’re in there, you’re just out of sight
Time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

Al Stewart. My husband and I both love his music. He is one of my earliest music memories. As in I liked to listen to him. My tastes were somewhat eclectic. I didn’t like the Doobie Brothers (and a friend’s cousin was a roadie in the 70s), and as sacrilegious as it sounds, I never got The Grateful Dead. I think the first time I heard Al Stewart was down at a friends house in Bethesda, Maryland. These two sisters who are still my pals had two older brothers, one of whom used to take us to Kemp Mill Records in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I loved that music store more than any other I was ever in. They always were playing the most fabulous music, and no disco biscuits need apply. Now to those in my peer group who were devotees of Plastic Fantastic and Mads Records, this will come as a surprise, but there was nothing better than Kemp Mill Records in my opinion.

So this morning I had an earworm when I woke up and it was Al Stewart’s Time Passages. Hence the post title. And how does it tie to this post that is most definitely a ramble? It just does.

We all have music that evokes memories. Al Stewart reminds me of first Kemp Mill Records along with The Little River Band. Later on, Al Stewart would remind me of The Point in Bryn Mawr. The Point was where the original Main Point was, and Al played there when I was too young to be allowed to go there. But I made up for lost time when The Point opened up in the same spot as the original Main Point.

The Point ran in Bryn Mawr circa 1998 to 2005. Al Stewart was there often and other musicians I loved like Shawn Mullins and Sophie B Hawkins. The original Main Point began circa 1964, and closed in 1981 the year I graduated high school.

So I have been thinking about time passages. This year is my 40th high school reunion from Shipley, and thanks to COVID-19 no reunion. I remember 1981. Back then, almost 57 just seemed so very far away, yet here we are.

Mini Term, Spring of 1980

I have a nice life. I am blessed and am where I am supposed to be, with the person whom I am supposed to be with. Added bonus? He knew and remembers my younger self. I think that makes me really lucky. And I know I am loved. I can’t say that about everyone I know.

The past year with COVID-19 has taken many of us on mental road trips. My stepfather, who is British by birth, remarked that over the past year he had many memories of his childhood in England, including World War II float to the surface. He said that he found it interesting that these memories are still intact and that we needed the quiet of life imposed upon us by a global pandemic to allow them to float back into our consciousness. It’s kind of true.

Life and time march on no matter how we try to stop it. I see women who look fabulous, but haven’t figured out those really short skirts and impossibly high heels they are still wearing in defiance of the aging process would be better suited to their nieces and daughters. They remind me of this woman I remember from the Main Line when I was in my 20s. She liked frog statues in her garden and had a killer figure….but she would wear pantyhose and hot pants and summer heels and sandals for summer shopping. Especially memorable? Her patriotic July 4th hot pants. It always made me feel a little sad that she wasn’t taking aging well. Now I guess she might have been approaching some point in her 40s back then. But every time I see one of my own contemporaries or slightly younger struggling with the aging process, I think of this woman.

A friend of mine turned 60 the other day. I can’t believe it. I remember when her son used to ride a scooter through our old neighborhood when he was a little guy. Now he’s a grown up, out of college, with his own life.

One of my closest friends oldest child just took his SATs. He totally rocked them. He smiles at me when I tell him I remember when he was hatched. But I do. I remember him so clearly as an infant. And another one of my close friends has her daughter graduating from college. Another kid I love and remember as a little girl. Now she is this beautiful young woman. Even my niece of whom I have these memories of her and her little fashion shows changing her outfits multiple times a day is now a college freshman.

Sometimes I just sit here and think about where time has gone and what it took for us all to get here. And I marvel. Another friend and I were facetiming recently and we were talking about remembering when our parents were the age we are now. And all of the stores we used to love to visit in Bryn Mawr when we were kids like Katy Did and that marvelous book store next to it. And all of the antiques stores and Eskil’s Clog Shop. And of course, wanting to be old enough to go to the Main Point without our parents freaking out.

Volunteering (in costume) at Historic Harriton House in Bryn Mawr 1970s.

The memories of a more innocent time. And a lot of them have resurfaced in the time of COVID-19. And just like my stepfather noted, the memories are still here, we just need quiet to visit them again.

Lots of memories of my late father. He’s been gone since 2005. But I have had all sorts of memories resurface. Like him helping a neighbor plant either azaleas or rhododendrons in a seersucker suit one time when he came home from work. Or running around the day of my sister’s wedding (which was held in my parents’ house) touching up paint because caterers and florists and whomever had marked a couple of walls. Or the little girl memories of going with him on a snowy December night to the rail yards in his red VW bug to get a Christmas tree. Or going shopping on 9th street (Italian Market) with him and visiting all the merchants he had been going to since he was a kid in some cases.

Other things I am remembering of late? Fabulous garden parties in amazing gardens in Philadelphia. I do not remember which non profits benefitted (Philadelphia Parks Alliance, PHS, or a garden club ?) from all of them but I remember how lovely they were. No artifice and beautiful gardens. I think one was at Ernesta Ballard’s house in Chestnut Hill. I remember Thatcher Longstreth’s wife Nancy was there. She was in wheelchair.

Other memories? Shipley Mini Term the spring of 1980. I did an internship in the City Representative’s Office in Philadelphia. My godfather was the late Dick Doran, and at that time he was the City Representative under Mayor Bill Green. Bill Green and Dick Doran knew my father from St. Joe’s Prep. When I was growing up they were around a lot. Dick Doran gave a wedding toast at my parents’ wedding. And I remember when Dick was Chief of Staff to Milton Schapp. I remember that in particular because my father was not a fan of Harrisburg, and I was really little and didn’t know where Harrisburg was.

Perhaps it was that internship while I was a junior in high school that made me interested in observing politics…but never having a desire to run for office. But I remember it was a fascinating time. Ed Rendell was the District Attorney. I remember Thatcher Longstreth taking me to meeting with him in CIty Hall, although he was not a City Councilman again until after I had graduated from high school. He was the nicest man.

That was kind of a golden time in Philadelphia City Hall. Much like the era of Richardson Dilworth, who was not only a beloved Mayor of Philadelphia, but grandfather to one of my oldest childhood friends. However even with the golden time, there was political infighting and even a messenger in City Hall who believed in aliens, and yes had a few tinfoil hats.

Other memories that have floated up to the surface was of all things a plant sale my mother used to work on when I was little. The plant sale at The Hill Physick Keith House. They would stage the plants in the side walled garden that had a gate out to Cypress Street.

The Hill Physick Keith House holds a lot of memories. I remember playing quietly as a very little girl in the curtains in the room with the big desk and beautiful inkwell when my mother was a volunteer there. I actually have a pair of antique drapes that once hung in the house. I do not remember why they were removed, only that when I was little they were going to be thrown out, so my mother adopted them. For a while they hung in our house in Society Hill which had windows of a similar scale to those in the Hill Physick Keith House. Now they live in a blanket chest. I have no reason to keep them, but so many why as to not let them go.

Yes the drapes from the Physick House.

So here we are, It’s 2021. My hair is turning gray and white but is still mostly brown. I gave up the idea of color when I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost 10 years ago. There is a link between hair dyes and breast cancer. So when I heard that I was done with the semi-permanent color I used to use back then. Now when I look in the mirror sometimes I see my father’s mother which kind of freaks me out that I can so clearly see her face in my face at times.

Soon I will be getting my second COVID-19 shot. But I still am keeping it close to home with the COVID-19 of it all. But it also means I can keep on gardening.

I will close with was this where my teenage, childhood, or young adult self though I would be? I am not really sure because after all, within this life we live, we actually live several lives as we go throughout our life. So yes, I definitely can’t answer that. I only know I am home and grateful for my life, and each stage of it.

Thanks for stopping by.

push push push

I make no secret over the fact that I am completely over the push push push of realtors/real estate investors of all forms soliciting business since COVID19 hit.

First you have the slimy ones that send the postcards announcing they’ve been trying to reach you 95 times by postcard but they can’t find your phone number.

Or they are robocalling you via off shore call centers with heavily accented individuals reading from a script. And whether it’s postcard or robocall they all have friendly names like “Dan” or “Steve” or “Brian”.

Next come the regular residential realtor variety from the various and sundry companies you recognize. Like today’s solicitation which came addressed to both our name and “occupant“.

Dear occupant and she wants our business no less?

Of course there were other amusing things about today’s postcard from someone at Compass in Devon. Like for example it says it’s from their “Upper Main Line” office and lists a phone number. I tried to call the phone number on the postcard listed as the main office number because I want to be put on a do not solicit list. Only the number on the postcard isn’t a valid general office number and you get the recording from the phone company that this number doesn’t exist.

Now that’s just sloppy marketing and lack of proofreading, which if I was in the market for a new home or a realtor, this would knock this person out of the running right then and there. Details matter.

Then there’s the house that’s on the front of the postcard that says “just sold“. It’s one of the McMansions crammed in off of 352 on Shirtz Farm Lane…. which once upon a time was an actual farm. I made no secret of how I loathe farm to development conversions.

I guess our comparables are all going up in the area because this woman claims to have sold this house which is on a postage stamp sized lot for over $1 Million. And again…if you saw where it was it’s right there on 352 after the railroad underpass! It’s a marvel, those prices.

This is a development that once it finally got started if you blinked, you missed the houses going up. And it’s still got piles of dirt everywhere, it’s rather unattractive. Million dollar Lickety Splits.

Just so we’re clear, I have quite a few dear friends who are realtors whom I respect immensely. They don’t send out things like this. And they would never refer to someone in a mailer by name and then occupant because that’s just kind of insulting. If you need a realtor I’m happy to refer you to one of the many fine individuals I know. And they are actually truly local to Chester County and live here.

As I have said on other posts I have written about the sleazy real estate investors (house flippers) sending postcards to buy your house for cash, this is one of the byproducts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. As happened the last time there was a pandemic at the turn of the 20th century, it made people want to get out of cities and move into suburbia or less populated areas. Only I think circa 1918 they weren’t bombarding people with post cards.

I appreciate that realtors I’ve never heard of or are not particularly local love our area. I just wish they would stop soliciting me. Obviously I love where we live that’s why we’re here.

Happy weekend!

beef mac and cheese…my way

Beef Macaroni and Cheese

1 stick of butter

A few tablespoons of Wondra gravy flour

Dash of nutmeg

A couple of dashes of Tabasco

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese

8 ounce bag of shredded mixed cheddar cheese

6 ounces chopped Velveeta cheese (the kind that comes in a block)

14 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes

12 ounce can of vitamin D evaporated milk

1 – 1 1/3 cups buttermilk

1 lb ground beef

1 small red onion, chopped small

1 pound bag of Gemelli pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

I have never written this down, so bear with me.

First I sauté the pound of ground beef in a nonstick pan with the red onion. Salt and pepper to taste. Because I am using a nonstick pan I don’t grease it. Remove from heat.

In another pan I make my cheese sauce. It starts with a roux which is butter and flour. I just eyeball the flower and I use Wondra which is a great flower to use for things like this and gravies because it’s very fine. So I say a few tablespoons, it’s either that or a few dashes.

After the flour and butter have kind of cooked together, I had a dash of nutmeg and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce. Then I add the buttermilk.

I incorporate everything together whisking constantly and then I add the can of milk. Next I add the Swiss and Gruyere mix, whisking constantly until it’s incorporated. After that I add the cheddar and then I stir in the Velveeta chunks. As everything comes together you may have to add a little more milk. It just depends.

After it’s creamy and smooth I add the can of tomatoes which I do not drain. I then let the cheese sauce kind of meld together and I keep on stirring it. When I think it’s the proper consistency I turn it off and put a lid on it.

In a big Dutch oven I cook the pasta as per the package instructions and then drain. First I put the pasta back into the Dutch oven. Then I stir in the ground beef mixture. Then I slowly incorporate the cheese sauce until everything‘s together.

I always make a little more sauce than I am expecting but you just let your pasta sit for a few minutes with the lid on in the Dutch oven and the heat off on the stove and a lot of the moisture from the cheese sauce will be absorbed.

Serve with a salad and it’s magically delicious.

Thanks for stopping by.

vintage beauty gets gussied up

My new old chair

A few years ago I picked this chair out of a barn. For $45. Which is astounding because vintage furniture of this quality is highly desirable even used. And if you’re looking at the gorgeous mahogany of this chair this is also why you don’t need to chalk paint or faux paint every piece of vintage furniture. Sometimes it just needs to be recovered.

“Brown wood” is cool, pass it on.

It’s a Southwood Sheraton side chair. It was made in Hickory, North Carolina. It’s just slightly past mid century, this chair dates to 1973 when Southwood was founded.

Southwood was started in 1973 with the vision to become America’s premier maker of authentic, museum-quality antique reproductions, as well as offering traditional upholstered seating. They went out of business around 2013, sadly.

Anyway, The chair when it originally came to me was in a powder blue silk velvet. But the velvet had been drying out and getting very brittle over time and I knew I needed to start looking for fabric to recover this chair in. Enter a friend of mine whose late mother had amazing taste. She gifted me a remnant of vintage Scalamandre upholstery fabric.

So I called up my upholsterer Ken and said I have the fabric for the chair. He had coincidentally just start looking for fabric for me for the chair because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

Chair before makeover.

This evening my chair came home. It looks amazing! And I did save some money by supplying my own fabric. But that was just a fluke that the fabric was gifted to me. It’s just like the planets aligned.

Once again I am sharing with you the information on my upholsterer, Ken’s Upholstery. They pick up, they deliver, and their attention to detail is unparalleled. It has been a long time since I saw an upholsterer who is this good at his craft.

And Ken does nice little things for his customers like send you photos of whatever he’s working on for you from start to finish. And something Ken did for me was to put the original Southwood tag back on the bottom of my chair. I had not asked him to do that, I had asked him to just hang onto the original manufacturer’s tag!

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the way the chair turned out. My husband knows he will never be able to drink red wine in it but that’s OK. I love it! And once again I am a regular customer of Ken’s Upholstery , I am not getting anything as far as compensation in any way shape or form to write this post. I am just a very, very happy customer!

Thanks for stopping by.

My chair reupholstered.

a valentine would have been nicer…

This morning I woke up with the phrase good fences make good neighbors running loose in my brain. Why? Because of something that happened yesterday.

Yesterday by around 8 AM our neighborhood looked like a used car parking lot. A bunch of cars from outside the neighborhood kind of parked all around the giant mountains of snow left by the snow plows through no fault of their own. It has been cold so not much has melted, there has been a lot of snow, and no more places to put it. One of the vehicles, a white truck, was even blocking the edge of my driveway.

All this snow has shrunken our on street parking making everything more difficult. Even mail delivery.

The cars came from outside our neighborhood and across a major road. The cars came from a property that new people moved onto at some point in 2020 and literally built a giant garage on that seems bigger than the house when you drive by.

The house has a bigger and longer driveway with more space behind the house for parking than anyone in our neighborhood. And again, across a major road, so if I lived there I would not park in the neighborhood across the road because it’s like playing chicken to cross the big road, a state road, safely anyway.

These folks have a LOT of cars and seemingly just a lot parked on their property. But it’s their property, so just an observation. Of course it’s an observation I wouldn’t even think to make if they didn’t park multiple vehicles in a small neighborhood on a small road that was not really where they lived.

Since these people moved into the area they literally park a couple to a few vehicles on our street a great deal of the time. A little head scratching considering their driveway size, parking pad, and big old garage, but hey, they bought a property that has needed a boatload of work so ok, I get it, work trucks and equipment need room. And you want to be neighborly, right?

Their parking habits weren’t a problem until yesterday. Yesterday when they butted one vehicle literally on a neighbor’s bumper South Philly style and blocked the edge of our driveway. That and the mountains of snow made it an issue. Our houses are all the way at the end of the road so it was a little odd. Usually they take all the on street parking further up the road. And no one gave any of us the heads up they would be taking most of our on street parking at one end of the street. Which in winter weather is just nice to do right?

I actually didn’t say anything to the people. It was 8 AM or maybe earlier, I was in my nightgown and needed coffee. I figured I would have coffee and get dressed and then see what was up.

However, I didn’t do anything in the end because my one neighbor got in her car and drove to their house. She asked them nicely if they could move their cars. They were expecting someone that needed room to park and then there is USPS.

If you are parking too close to or blocking a mailbox around here they literally will not deliver the mail. I know because we had one of our vehicles out of the driveway a few days ago because the heating repair guy was coming to adjust something and needed room to get into driveway, etc. As they were leaving, the mail was coming and I was told although we were not blocking the mailbox it was close enough that if it happened again we wouldn’t get the mail delivered because they couldn’t easily pull up and pull out, they would have to back up.

The neighbor who went to talk to these people is literally the nicest person you will ever meet. She would give you the shirt off her back. Never mean, never rude, just lovely. The people in the car house were not exactly receptive to her. So she kind of said “ok” and left.

In the meantime I had dressed and was looking out the window again at the truck blocking the edge of my driveway. Agonizing over what to do. You see, no one wants to have to call the police on someone. Especially for something like this.

But I didn’t have to do anything in the end because next thing you know I see out the windows these guys walking down the road rather animatedly. I could not hear their conversation, but body language said “annoyed”.

These guys moved the cars. I was off the hook and didn’t have to deal with the fact that someone had parked blocking the edge of the driveway in weather that narrows everything.

But it still begged the question in today’s world of what to do. Do you try to be the nice neighbor and talk to them next time, or just call the police? I put it out there to my friends and some said just let police handle it, and some said bake them cookies and go talk to them.

Well by last evening I learned these people weren’t the people you baked cookies for or invited over for a cook out. These people called the police on my nice neighbor. Yes, the nicest woman on the planet and she was told not to talk to them, not to go to their house, and so on.

The police were super nice to my neighbor, and they had a responsibility to do their jobs, so that isn’t an issue. The issue is the not quite neighbors odd over-reaction to a simple, polite, and pleasant request from my neighbor. Not a next door neighbor obviously because they don’t actually live in our neighborhood, but an area neighbor from a neighborhood they use like a parking lot. My other issue? They did this to her in a fit of righteous indignation or whatever and they literally had blocked part of my driveway. That’s actually not ok.

So sadly now we know what kind of neighbors they are going to be. And I say sadly because literally everyone around here is so nice. From road to road, just nice people. Honestly coming from the Main Line which had changed so much by the time I moved to Chester County, it took me a while to get that neighbors are still nice.

And my neighbors especially? These are the people that in normal times we gather with and have cookouts with or just hang out. These are the people that taught me the lovely traditions of leaving each neighbor a small Christmas gift. These are the neighbors who will come running with jumper cables if your battery is dead. These are the people who gathered together to help when another neighbor had a house fire. These are the neighbors that will help you move tree debris in a storm. And all during COVID19 we have socially distanced outside but check on each other and say hello. These are the people you dream of having as neighbors. Good, solid, decent, caring, nice people.

So it’s really sad that these other people can’t see what nice people are about. Now we know. A Valentine would have been nicer. But there are some who don’t understand the golden rule of do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Try to be kind to one and other.

pizza, pizza

One of the things I think that has suffered in the pandemic is pizza. I just kept finding that the pizza we were ordering no matter where it was from, was uneven in consistency of product delivered to the customers. Sometimes when we would order, the pizza was fabulous. Other times when we would order not so much or rushed or they forgot things on the order (like a couple of times completely forgetting the toppings we ordered for the pizza) and with everyone suffering from pandemic economics, you don’t want to call and say “oh your pizza sucked.” So we stopped ordering pizza. And I started making pizza.

I am capable of making the dough but one of my really good friends told me about Wegmans pizza dough. You can buy regular or organic. I will keep a couple in the freezer now and the dough freezes nicely for the short term.

The day before you are going to make your pizza, put your dough in the refrigerator to thaw overnight. The day you are baking, get your dough out of the refrigerator and put into an oiled mixing bowl, and lightly oil top of dough ball itself, cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in your kitchen to rise for a couple of hours. Make sure it is in a warm part of your kitchen, or it won’t rise right.

I am not someone who can throw pizza dough, so next when I am ready to bake I get out my silicone sheet that I roll out pie crusts and cookie dough on, lightly flour and roll the dough out. It does take a few minutes to roll the dough out properly because you need to get it thin enough that it fits a sheet pan. I do not have a pizza stone so I use a half sheet pan, which is a little over 17 inches long and 12 inches wide.

I should mention that before I get my dough rolled out, I preheat the oven to 450°F BUT I bake it at 400°F. I have just learned from baking bread that everything works better when I preheat my oven slightly higher than I’m doing the actual baking. I do not do this with cookies or biscuits, however.

When I put the dough down on the sheet pan I do not use a silicone baking sheet on the pan I use that Reynolds wrap nonstick foil. The first time I made pizza like this, I used one of my silicone baking sheets and when we sliced the pizza we turned the baking sheet to ribbons.

I layer sauce, then toppings and it goes into the oven and baked at 400°F for 20-23 minutes. Everybody’s oven is calibrated slightly differently and I have discovered generally speaking the 23 minutes is my optimum cook time for my pizza. And that’s it. It’s very easy and it’s really good.

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from Wegmans Pizza dough. I had tried the premade dough years ago from Giant Food Markets and they changed how they made it because it went from being really good to being kind of gross. But the pizza dough from Wegmans is completely consistent. I have also been told that the pizza dough from Trader Joe’s is awesome.

And if you have small kids, making pizza is a really fun activity and it gets them familiar with the kitchen other than the microwave.

As for sauce and toppings that’s entirely up to you. You can make a little bit of your own sauce up but I recommend making it thick because it’s going on a pizza and baking in the oven. I have done it all sorts of ways I have made my own sauce with leftover sauce that I had from another meal, I have used Wegmans store brand premade pizza sauce, and Mezetta Spicy Marinara Calabrian Chile. The Wegmans sauce is well-made but for my taste I need to spice it up by adding herbs and garlic.

So yes my homemade pizza can also be considered semi-homade but try it! It’s fun!

Thanks for stopping by and stay warm today it’s cold outside.

snow day sauce day: bolognese

Well I woke up in the middle of the night and it was snowing and when we all got up this morning there was a fresh coat of powdery snow, so pasta it is. Snow day sauce day it is!

Today I am making a Bolognese sauce. I do make a nod to Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe, but my recipe is very much my own. My sauce pretty much cooks all day. That’s why you make it on a snow day because you’re home.

I start with ground meat. My Bolognese has a pound of ground beef, a pound of veal, a pound of pork. If I can’t get ground veal I will use ground lamb.

The first thing I do is sauté two onions in a little extra virgin olive oil with five or six minced cloves of garlic. I use a sweet onion and a red onion. Once the onion is starting to get that slightly translucent look I add in the ground meat and a pinch of nutmeg and salt. I also add a large grated carrot. I do not add celery. A lot of Bolognese recipes call for celery.

As the meat browns, I keep stirring it to make sure it is consistent in size. When I serve this I want every bit of sauce to be married with a bit of ground meat. Then I add a cup of whole milk. Yes milk. You cook it until the milk solids kind of cook off which is about 20 minutes or so.

Next I add a cup of white wine. I will also use red wine. It’s basically whatever is open and I can get my hands on first. Today the wine was a little sweet it was this Moscato, but it cooks fine just the same.

As the wine is cooking down (again you want 20 to 30 minutes), I take one of those six or 8 ounce containers of cremini mushrooms and slice them thin. I add them to the meat onion and garlic mixture. I allow everything to cook together for about five minutes.

Next comes the tomatoes. Two 28 ounce cans of tomatoes. I like one can to be crushed, and the other can the whole Roma tomatoes in a purée. I shred the whole tomatoes by hand one by one into the pot and then I’ll incorporate the can of crushed tomatoes. Finally, I add a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.

The next step are the herbs. Oregano and basil, and to make it a little different I add a couple teaspoons of ground Aleppo pepper.

Now my sauce is cooking down on low and I will leave it to simmer for probably a few hours just stirring occasionally. And when I say summer I mean it is the lowest I can have my burner without turning it off.

I will then turn off the sauce and let it sit for a while. And then I will serve it tonight over pasta I could do linguine, but I might do just regular spaghetti.

All you need is a little grated Italian cheese and a green salad. Enjoy!

snow day = sauce day

Yes I make sauce not gravy. All of the sauce I make is based off of the way I learned to make it from my father and my Great Aunt Millie.

Millie lived at 11th and Ritner with my Great Aunt Josie and Great Uncle Pat (who we called PJ). In the early 2000s I won this awesome basket of Italian things courtesy of bon appétit and Epicurious. I came in second in this Italian cooking recipe contest. I did reload that recipe to the Epicurious website again in 2015.

But you don’t always have all the ingredients for any particular recipe and with all the snow outside, it was a snow day = sauce day but it was with what I had to cook with.

I started with sautéing two chopped red onions with six chopped cloves of garlic in a little olive oil. To that I added a tomato that came in a vegetable box that was getting a little disreputable looking and three bay leaves and some red wine vinegar (just a couple of good dashes.) Salt and pepper to taste. And 1 grated carrot. My father always did this.

Once the onion was starting to get translucent I added 10 oz of sliced up baby Bella mushrooms. I slice the mushrooms, I don’t buy sliced mushrooms.

Next comes 2 pounds of Italian sausage. 1 pound of hot and 1 pound of sweet. The sausage I had in I had gotten from the Artisan’s Exchange in West Chester. I had tried it on a whim and I have ordered it again. It’s really nice sausage. Yes it’s a little pricey but once in a while it’s OK to treat yourself and your family. The sausage is made by Mangia Famiglia. Usually my sausage comes from Cappuccio’s or the Shop Rite in West Chester. Shop Rites have great butcher sections and a wide selection of ethnic foods.

Next I added about 2/3 of a cup of milk. Today it was actually buttermilk because I had it left over. I don’t do as well with acid he foods as I used to so you do this with a Bolognese sauce and it also cuts the acid a little.

After the milk mostly cooked off I added 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes. One can was crushed with purée, and one can or whole plum tomatoes that I then squished up by hand into the sauce. Then I added a 6 ounce can of tomato paste.

Next I added some shredded fresh basil and dried oregano. And that’s pretty much it. I don’t have any fresh flat leaf parsley so I didn’t add any parsley. I simmer it on the stove and let everything come together and cook through. I am going to serve it with spaghetti and a nice salad on the side.

Snow day dinners. It’s homemade. Thanks for stopping by!