It’s finally starting to feel like fall here. Well, okay, it’s eighty, but overcast-ish, and it’s supposed to be cooler for the weekend. My college baby is coming home tonight, hurrah!! So that means time down with my girls and something yummy in the crock pot. 

ImageAh, Italia, it’s in my blood, so I’d love to share a recipe from my family, the D’Cerbos. . You’ll have to bear with me. I’m not a recipe gal. I use a recipe once, then I alter it, either to improve it for my taste, or sometimes just to use up ingredients I already have in the fridge. This particular one is terrific for that. Especially those veggies that might not make it another day. 

You will need. (all approximate. I just wing it ’til it looks good!) 

one pound of ground turkey, or (if adventurous) italian sausage- One medium onion, chopped—two or more whole cloves of garlic—two cups of mixed chopped veggies which should include, zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and could include, celery, potato, red beans—or anything else that sounds good!—a small can of garbanzo beans, drained—several cups of good quality chicken broth—one can of diced tomatoes—oregano, salt and pepper—small pasta, like elbow or penne—green beans and/or fresh chopped spinach. And hot bread and fresh parmesan cheese to serve. 

First. Make a nice environment for yourself. Maybe throw an Italian Tenor on the CD player, or a great audio book. LIght a candle and keep it near you while you chop the onion, (It neutralizes the gas that makes you cry!) Open a bottle of wine, or make a nice cup of tea.

Ready? Okay then. In a saute pan, brown the turkey and the chopped onion in a little bit of olive oil. Do the same to the whole garlic cloves to sweeten them. Put them all in the crock pot. Dice up your veggies, taking a moment now and then to conduct the music (careful, knife is sharp!) or dance a few steps or exclaim at the brilliant metaphor your author of choice just employed, or hey, tell your husband how much you admire him and watch him hide his smile. Add all the veggies, except the fresh green ones, the broth, the spices to taste, and even a dash of wine if you can’t quite finish that second glass. 

Now, let the crock pot do it’s work. Set it on high for about four hours, or low for longer. Twenty minutes before you are ready to eat, add in the green beans, spinach, if using, and the pasta. Put some crusty loaf bread in the oven. 

Ding! It’s ready! Spoon it into bowls or mugs, add a generous amount of parmesan and be careful, it’s hot! And sooo good for you. 

I grew up in a house of terrific cooks. Both my parents were gourmets, making their own pastas, sausages, pickles, ice cream, you name it, we tried it! I was a toddler in Atlanta in the sixties and I remember my mom serving quiche at a dinner, no one had ever heard of it! Needless to say, they all loved it. She did the same thing with octopus stew, a recipe she picked up on her travels in Greece. The guest eyed it with suspicion, tasted it reluctantly, then ate it all and asked for seconds! My parents were big supporters of the arts, so they entertained often, many times for fancy fundraisers and they always did their own cooking. After dinner, in the music room, we would hear a song by the soprano of the opera, or a solo by the violinist from the symphony. It was so magical, and I grew up knowing that I wanted to have that kind of art and life in my home. 

My brother who was a year older than I, learned to cook first from my parents and I followed suit. It was a joy to grow up in a house filled with music and delicious food and exotic animals. I’ll get to that next. My brother collected things, well animals. Oh, not just horses and gerbils, but lions and crocodiles and what not. You haven’t really gotten to know your neighbors until you call them to ask if they’ve seen your lion. Sorry, it broke out of the stable. Oh you did see him. Great, just keep the kids inside and we’ll be right over. Big kitty likes to play, but a four hundred pound kitten is a handful. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the soup is almost ready, the smell is heaven, the bread is hot and buttered. Wine glasses are raised.

Salute! To your health. 

Shari, in an Italian mood. 10-18-2012