The circle of life

Categories:casseroles, pasta

Last Friday, I took a pan of lasagna to a new mother of twins (she’s not a new mother, she has another tiny human now known as “big brother”). This week, I took a shepherd’s pie to a family whose matriarch is fading. The circle of life.

I always joke that an Episcopal woman will break down your door to bring you a casserole, but it’s true. The Women of St. Paul’s use an internet application called Meal Baby. There are slots to sign up for dishes so that we don’t all make the same thing, plus information on the recipient — the reason for the needed meals, likes and dislikes and how many you’re feeding.

No matter the recipient or reason, the slots fill up quickly. The families are always grateful, but it’s not all about generosity of heart. This particular ministry feeds all the cooks, too.

In the case of the family that is already grieving a loss, you may not have the best words but you can always say, “Bake until bubbly.” Sometimes that’s enough.

(I am particularly fond of my lasagna because it begins with my spaghetti sauce, which I adore. Extremely meaty, not too much tomato. Just, to my mind, perfect.)

Spaghetti Sauce

2 lbs. ground chuck

1/3 cup diced carrots

1/3 cup diced onion

2 large garlic cloves, minced

About a cup of dry red wine

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons oregano

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and Pepper

Brown ground chuck until bits of it have taken on a deep brown color and most of the fat has been absorbed back in to the meat. Remove from pan. Add carrots and onions and add a little vegetable oil if the pan is too dry. Saute until tender. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds. Add back the ground beef and add the red wine. Cook until wine reduces. Add the crushed tomatoes, the oregano and the paprika. Salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for at least 30 minutes.

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