Usually I test my recipes several times before I post them. This recipe was such a big hit during Oscar night that I am going to post the first iteration. There are many versions of this sauce that are delicious but for once I am going to stop adjusting and just post as it is. The sauce has a strong tomato taste seasoned with Italian herbs. If you like these flavors this sauce is for you.
My husband and I have a new friend we adore. Her name is Tara and her home is in Berlin with her mother. This school year she is living with her American father and his family here in Santa Cruz. What is amazing about her is that she is truly bi-cultural. She loves German comfort food like dumplings, red cabbage with duck, and beef- or cabbage rolls. This is similar to food that her German grandmother prepares for her. I enjoy being her substitute grandmother and cooking her favorite meals. Early in the year she was a little homesick but now she enjoys life in Santa Cruz. After making meatloaf, stuffed cabbage, and several other German dishes it was time to change the menu, hence the tomato sauce.
Every Sunday I walk to our little farmer’s market around the corner and get whatever looks good. I haven't made a lot of pasta lately but when I went to the market this week I decided to splurge and make pasta with tomato sauce. I bought ground pork from a young farmer who raises pigs on a nearby farm. The meat was outstanding and I will get it again. I decided to get fresh pasta shells for my sauce and some crusty bread. Instead of a salad we had artichokes from the market. The sauce was easy to make while watching all the beautiful people on the red carpet. Tara had never seen the Oscars before and also enjoyed watching them while finishing her homework assignment.
As you probably all know, California has had a lot of rain over the last two months. But today the sun is shining and our neighbor’s fruitless plum tree is in full bloom. The beach is littered with everything that has washed ashore. It is time to collect some driftwood.
It rained and rained and rained some more. The trees fell to the ground and the wind was furious. I was lucky because I had electricity, so I cooked and cooked and cooked. I cooked a whole duck. I made a winter “farro" salad and tried a new recipe for hummus. I am working on these recipes, and will post them later. Cooking distracted me from the scarier and darker moments of the tempestuous weather. I was fortunate to be able to stay in my home and not having to evacuate like so many others.
Life is all about change and loss. What prompted me to write this was a sentence I read this morning from my blogging friend, Jo, at https://coastalcrone.com about being brave enough to change. At this stage in life, I have to contemplate changes I do not look forward to but have to face. And will have to deal with sooner or later. I usually push most of them aside. I prefer the joyful, well-lived life. Don’t we all.
But during those dark hours of rain and storm, I grieved for the loss of my oldest friends from Germany. She died last summer in a horrible car accident. She would be there forever, or so I thought. Gabriele has always been very special to me. She was like a sister. We met in boarding school when she was fourteen and I was fifteen. She fled East Germany with her parents and siblings and later worked her way to becoming a principal and advocate for special needs children.
During one of my visits, we went to a Turkish home and she told the reluctant father that his severely handicapped daughter had to attend school in Germany—by law. I was sure we would get in trouble. Another time, she saved my life when we hitchhiked as young girls in Germany. I remember so many stories full of laughter and tears, as well disagreements and hurt feelings. Why am I posting this? I am not so sure. I have mixed feelings.
What I want to say is: Be kind and gentle with the world and especially your friends. When we said goodbye last May in Germany, she hugged me and cried. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever see her.
“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.
In honor of my friend, Gabriele, I would like give you the link to one of her favorite recipes: seafood pasta.
Rouladen or Rinderrouladen is a quintessential German meat dish made with bacon, onions and pickles wrapped in thinly sliced beef. The gravy is an absolute requirement to round out this dish. It is usually served with boiled potatoes, potato dumplings, or Spätzle (depending on the region). I like red cabbage with my Rouladen, but you can serve it with any vegetable you like. The dish was once considered a recipe for common folk, but today it is enjoyed by many people as a festive dish or a special Sunday meal. Imagine braised meat flavored with mustard, pickles, prosciutto, enhanced by a rich gravy. If you like that, than Rouladen is the dish for you.
My love affair with Rouladen began here in the United States when Susanne, my friend and neighbor and an excellent cook, started making it for me. This dish is the best cure when I get homesick for Germany. It’s like soul food imbedded into my DNA. It’s not fancy or delicate, but homey and nourishing. I can’t wait to sit at Susanne’s inviting table and start eating.
There are many recipes for Rinderroulden (beef roll-ups), but I enjoy Susanne’s the best. She uses thinly sliced prosciutto that she buys at Trader Joe’s (instead of bacon) as well as cornichons (gherkin pickles). The butcher slices a piece of London broil into 1/8 inch thin slices. I find that this dish develops more flavor when made a day ahead.
My recipe for red cabbage ( here is the link for the recipe) goes well with Rouladen. Susanne serves boiled potatoes that she flavors with melted butter and parsley. Thank you Susanne, for being my friend and taking care of me for so many years.
For dessert I recommend something light and lemony like my lemon mouse, lemon pudding cake, or my lemon and buttermilk sorbet. Click on the photo for the recipe.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It means a lot to me and I would love to hear from you .
Comments in English and German are welcome!
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