Spaghetti Night

spaghetti and meatballs, family, dinnerHow many spaghetti nights have I savored in my lifetime? I shudder to think of it, particularly during these low-carb days when pasta is a no no. Shaking my head, I avoid the thoughts in my head and reach for the ingredients from the shelf.

Why Spaghetti Night, I wonder as I start rolling the ground beef (lean), eggs, chopped onion, and parmesan cheese into meatballs. What would happen if instead I made, say, meatloaf, or God forbid, chicken cacciatore? 

I smile as I begin to sauté the meatballs in the large pan. I suppose one doesn’t sauté meatballs, but I’m not frying them for heaven’s sake. Browning, that’s the word. I’m browning the meatballs as I envision the horrified reaction of my family if I served something other than spaghetti on a Monday night.

It all began with my guy, of course. Although he comes from an Irish mother and an Italian father, he only acknowledges the Italian genes. He may be tall, blonde, and blue-eyed, but he’s Italian, by God, and Italians love their spaghetti.

So one of the first nights our kids were old enough to sit down at the dinner table with us and enjoy a “family conference”  – I think they were 2 and 4 years old – the man explained that real Italian families eat spaghetti at least once a week, so which day should we designate as Italian night?

The meatballs smell heavenly, and as the rain beats against the kitchen skylight I’m thankful that it’s Monday. I scoop the meatballs to a platter and add chopped green and red spaghetti, red peppers, green peppers, yellow peppers, family, dinnerpeppers to the pan, as well as a few mushrooms.

My 4-year-old daughter, that fateful day 25+ years ago, suggested that Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays would be good spaghetti nights. She loved her dad and figured more would be better. My man’s eyes lit up and he agreed, “Okay!”

I put my foot down and replied, “Mondays. That’s it.” Thus, Monday Spaghetti Night was created.

The vegetables are sautéed and I add a bottle of Newman’s sauce. I could make my own, but Paul’s family does such a good job and the proceeds go toward charity. I add the meatballs and let everything simmer for two hours. When my guy comes home, he opens the front door, takes in a big whiff and exclaims, “Monday night!”

The kids are out of college and living on their own now. It’s just the two of us. But Monday nights are still, and always will be, Spaghetti Night.

Granddaughter Sophie wants to start the tradition with HER family.

Granddaughter Sophie wants to start the tradition with HER family.

Sharing the Divine

I can communicate with animals.

Just last night, I stared straight into my golden retriever’s eyes and said silently, “Henry, do you really like that plain yogurt I give you every night with your dinner?”

He stared back liquid pools of brown love and answered, “Anything you give me is full of love, and how can love not taste divine?”

I sat back in my chair, stunned.

I wasn’t surprised that I’d heard Henry’s words as clearly as a train whistle, or a fog horn, or a hummingbird’s wings. His words have rung loudly other times, although I admit the phenomenon is rare.

Most times I feel his answer; if you’ve never communicated with an animal, you don’t know what I mean. But some dog or cat lovers are nodding their heads. We humans usually don’t like to admit that there’s a language bond between species, probably because humans own the ridiculous assumption that we’re superior to every other being.

No, I wasn’t shocked because he answered me, but instead taken aback by his words.


Food and love, giving and receiving, cooking and eating, all are part of the Divine. With a capital D.

I raced to the kitchen, where earlier I’d placed half a dozen Meyer lemons from a friend’s garden. Henry watched me, knowingly, a little drool appearing on the side of his black, eating, love, communicating with dogs, food

I started measuring sugar, cracking eggs, pouring flour into a bowl, turning the mixer at full speed, then allowing the dog to lick the beaters as his special treat.

Lemon bars. Cooling now on the rack, ready to share with others.

Sharing the Divine.lemon bars, food, sharing, love

1/2 c butter

1/4 c powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1c flour

Mix all together with until creamed.  Spread in greased 8×8 Pan and bake at 350# for 15 – 20 min.


2 beaten eggs

1 c sugar

2 Tbl lemon juice and grated rind of 1 lemon.  Pour over hot dough, bake 20 min more.  When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.


Grilled Cheese

“Sit down and don’t move.”

This is the first time in my life I can order my mom around, and she has to listen!

She sits on the couch, back against the long floral armrest, head against an added pillow, legs straight in front of her on the rest of the couch, more pillows raising her feet.

“But,” she protests, “I know where the butter is, and the pan to grill the bread, and don’t use the new tomatoes, use the ones in the vegetable bin, and I’m not sure if the cheddar cheese is on the left side of the refrigerator, or the bottom shelf, and…”

“Stop!” I command. “I can figure it out.”

I’m not a kid any more. In fact, I’ve raised children, now adults, who thrived on my cooking, but my mom still thinks I can’t make a grilled cheese sandwich without her help.

I take a deep breath and look at her sternly but lovingly. “You need to keep your feet up right now. You’ve just had surgery. I have taken a five-hour train trip to stay with you and wait on you. So sit down and enjoy it!” I leave the room with a smirk on my face.

Of course, five minutes later I’m cursing under my breath. Where the hell does she store her pans? Her apartment is small, her kitchen as tiny as an elf’s, and it has already taken me 4 minutes, 38 seconds to find a knife to cut the cheese and a spatula.

No pan = no grilled cheese sandwiches, so I open more cabinets and grit my teeth.

“The bottom of the stove,” mom shouts from the living room.

I open the drawer below the oven, seemingly hidden until now, and sweetly shout out, “got it!” Why she couldn’t have told me that in the first place?  I whistle happily as I slice and melt the butter in the pan.

“Don’t use oil or that spray stuff, butter works best!” she suggests unnecessarily.

I walk briskly back into the living room. Tennis is on the T.V. “Thirty-love,” the commentator whispers excitedly. Yup, I think, it’s 30-0 right here, in this little apartment, and I’m the one not getting my serves in.

“Mom, luv,” I begin.

She looks up at me innocently. I walk over and fluff up the pillows behind her, check her water class. It could use more ice. “Yes?” she asks. “Do you need any help?”

“Not at all!” I answer. I pick up her glass and announce. “You need more water. Ten glasses a day – at least!” I bounce back to the kitchen and notice that the butter is turning brown. Whoops. As I add more ice to her glass, I throw some slices of bread in the pan. Race the ice water back to mom and her tray, then race back to the kitchen. Now the bread is turning brown, and I haven’t added the cheese yet.

“Damn,” I shout out.

Two seconds later, I hear the clip clip clip of her walker, and she is standing beside me, clucking and reaching out for the cheese, the butter, the tomato. In a span of three minutes, the smells of a toasty warm grilled cheese and tomato sandwich is wafting through the small three-room apartment.

“Yum!” she says, turning off the stove top. “Sit down and I’ll fix you a glass of diet coke. I’m starving, aren’t you?”

As she arranges a dish on her walker tray and sashays back toward the couch, I admit defeat, but also realize a cheery thought.

She’s healing quite well, much faster than the doctor’s prediction.