Andy

Family, Memories, Goodbyes

This weekend was a whirlwind of traveling, family and emotions. Friday we drove up to Seattle for the weekend. Originally it was just for my grandma’s 95th birthday party. But with my other grandma’s recent passing away we were also there for her memorial.

It snowed a little bit in Portland and Seattle on Thursday and Friday but thankfully the freeways were clear enough to drive up there. There was still quite a bit of snow at my parent’s house, though! We stopped for lunch in Longview, WA (got Mexican food and they surprised us with some ice cream at the end!) and then drove the rest of the way to Seattle without having to stop. Logan did great in the car!

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Friday night Michael went out with a friend who lives in Seattle and I hung out with my parents. My brother Andy flew in from Philly for the weekend so it was great to see him, too!

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Saturday was pretty low-key. I had intended on going to the gym in the morning but I was still coughing pretty badly from my month-long bronchitis so I decided to skip it and just rest for a few more days.

Around lunch time my aunt showed up to put together Grammy’s flowers for her party. My aunt Sheila used to own a floral business and she does an amazing job with flowers! She got 95 roses for my grandma’s 95th birthday. 🙂

My mom and brother worked on making the snacks for the party and Michael and I drove to Dick’s to pick up burgers for everyone for lunch. 😀

Finally it was time for the party! One of my aunts put together a bunch of old pictures to put on display. I love seeing old photos of my grandma:
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She was so stylish! She looked like a movie star in her old photos. The cake turned out nice:

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There were red roses everywhere for the party. So pretty!

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The theme was a tea party! Everyone was supposed to wear a hat. My cousin Anna brought some extra ones, and she has some pretty awesome fancy hats, for everyone.

Hahaha!
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Look at my Grammy sneaking a little bit of frosting off her cake:

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I love how this photo turned out:

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Me and my brother:

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My aunt made a little speech and then we sang happy birthday and she blew out her candles. She seemed SO happy!

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It was such a good party! Everything turned out so nice. There was a bunch of her favorite foods and little finger sandwiches–sparkling cider, tea, coffee. A ton of family came and a bunch of my grandma’s friends and her old neighbors came by. It was so sweet how many people came to wish her happy birthday.

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My little dude was a rockstar, too. He got passed around and wasn’t freaked out by so many people. And we got some good photos with his great-grammy.

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After the party we hung out at my parent’s house with pizza, some beer and sports on TV.

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Sunday morning was the memorial for my Grandma Mary. It turned out to be a really, really nice service. My dad’s friend was the officiant and I got to see everyone on my dad’s side of the family. Most of them I haven’t seen since my wedding.

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The service was so beautiful. A bunch of got up to talk and share stories and memories of her. I’m really glad I had typed up what I wanted to say so I could just read it because I don’t think I could have gotten through it otherwise.

After the service there was a little reception with lunch. We got to talk and catch up and spend some quality time with family. My aunt Chris had this book made of old photos and I loved looking through it–funny how much my brother looks like my dad!

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We had hoped to hang around a little bit longer and spend more time with everyone but unfortunately Logan was coming down with something and had his first fever on Sunday. It got pretty high and we wanted to get home to get to the doctor before they closed. So we said our goodbyes and hit the road.

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We picked up Bella at her foster mom’s house (she was so happy to have a little weekend party of her own!) and then I took Logan to the doctor and got him some medicine. He’s doing better now but it was kind of scary when his fever got so high.

It was a wonderful weekend. Ups and downs, happiness and sadness. It was so amazing seeing both sides of the family and spending so much time with them, but also bittersweet because part of it was for saying goodbye to my Grandma Mary.

Homemade Sauce

One of the things Michael and I kind of miss from our “old life” was how we used to cook together. We’d find a recipe and open a bottle of wine and hang out in the kitchen talking and listening to music while we cooked dinner. I loved that part of our relationship. This year things have changed, obviously.

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These days it’s a lot of tag-team action. When the Witching Hour arrives, I feed Logan and get him to bed while Michael starts cooking dinner for us. It’s worked well so far, for sure, but hasn’t been fun.

So we decided to try and re-create a recipe that my brother made when he visited us in April.

It’s funny. We talked about making Andy’s spaghetti sauce for about a week but something always came up. Then the other day I was out for a walk with Logan and I stopped by the store to get the tomatoes that Andy said were a must for the sauce, and when Michael got home later that day he had also picked up tomatoes!

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So now we have tons of cans of tomatoes for this spaghetti sauce!

Per my brother: “The key is to get San Marzano tomatos, they are pricey but worth it (about $4-5 here in Philly for a 28oz can) (http://www.cento.com/sanmarzano/sanmarzano.html). I have tried a lot of different tomatoes and those Cento ones have the best flavor and texture.” So FYI.

I got Mr. Fussy-Pants-who’s-teething-and-cranky to bed:

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And Michael started on dinner. He doubled Andy’s recipe (and I froze the leftovers for later). It was a lot of garlic to mince and onions to chop!

I poured the wine for us, and for the recipe:

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We put on some music, drank some wine and talked like adults while we waited for the sauce to cook and the spaghetti squash to bake.

Sooo I have a complaint about people who cook–and don’t follow recipes. It’s so HARD to recreate what they did! My aunt Sheila is like that. She’s an amazing cook and the food is always amazing but she’s one of those “throw it all in a pan” chefs and you can never do what she did. She gave me a bunch of her recipes like 15 years ago and they never turn out as good as if she made them. My brother Andy is like that. He just kinds of wings it and it’s always delicious.

Andy's Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

  • A couple shallots, small dice (sometimes I will go with half a sweet onion if I dont have shallots)
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • Oregano and Basil (fresh or dried)
  • Crushed Red Pepper (optional, for a little zip)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Red Wine (optional, use a lighter or heavier wine to give it a more delicate or robust character depending on what it is being served with)
  • 1 can of San Marzano tomatoes, pureed (you could slice or dice them if you like chunky sauce)
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large stock pot (heavy bottomed) over med-high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan (maybe a 1/4 cup or so). Heat the oil, then add your shallots and cook until softened, then add garlic and cook for about a minute.
  2. If you have Mushrooms, Olives, or other things to add to the sauce, do it now and cook until they soften.
  3. If using DRY herbs, toss them in.
  4. Add the wine and let it reduce.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and bring to a soft boil then reduce heat and simmer until you have a consistency you like (30-60 minutes depending on how moist the tomatoes were).
  6. Throw in some S+P at the end and if you use FRESH herbs, add them last.
  7. Serve over pasta and whatever else you like to put red sauce on. Garnish with grated cheese and enjoy!
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The final product:

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Both Michael and I went to the store to get the special tomatoes for the recipe on the same day without talking to each other, and yet neither of us thought to pick up a loaf of garlic bread. FAIL. So we had the not quite classy gluten-free toast with butter and garlic. 😉

The sauce was decent but not the same as when my brother made it. We followed his recipe and added kalamata olives to it. It was definitely spicy! So that was good. I froze the leftover sauce and when we defrost it we’re going to add some cooked ground beef to the recipe and I think that will make the sauce even more flavorful.

I’m glad Michael doubled the recipe because it takes a long time to make it. So now we’ll have an easy dinner later on. It’s also low in calories–especially if you use spaghetti squash instead of pasta!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite homemade pasta sauce recipe?