When I say “spaghetti night,” what thoughts come to mind?
Comfort meal? Quick and easy? Worst meal ever?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
I wasn’t laughing at the time – believe me – but the trauma has passed and it’s far enough “later” where the story can be shared. So without further ado, please allow my epic fail of an oh-so-simple-and-classic-dish be your entertainment for the day.
Make a bowl of popcorn and kick back. Feel free to laugh all you want. Unless you’re looking at me. Then please just smile, give me a hug and tell me it’ll be ok.
Step 1 – Don’t Make the Right Pasta Sauce
A few years ago we made our first attempt at homemade pasta sauce. We never thought about making our own from scratch. Aren’t you supposed to buy a jar and doctor it up with your own spices?
And then one night we had a fantastic sauce that had large pieces of sausage and ground beef. It had simmered all day in a large pot with root vegetables. The whole thing was completely homemade, from scratch. We’re a texture family, so if could figure out a way to make the whole thing smooth (without dumping a stock-pot full of sauce ladle by ladle into a blender), it would be our new pasta sauce from there on out…
Enter the immersion blender.
If you don’t have one of these things, you need one. Add it to your Christmas and/or birthday list STAT. We’ve used this thing on more occasions that I can even remember. In fact, we borrowed my dad’s for so long (literally YEARS) that they eventually gave us our own for Christmas a couple years ago. The hand blender also comes with a wisk and chopper attachment, which is perfect for making small batches of breadcrumbs, grinding nuts or my preferred use, chopping garlic for garlic butter.
Anyway, back to the bad sauce.
We started making our own sauce from scratch immediately. Our recipe was simple and after making a few batches, the ingredients were etched in my mind. There wasn’t even a need to measure! I made this recipe numerous times in the midst of post-baby fog and it came out magnificent every time.
Until last week. When I made it after 8 hours of sleep, without any distractions. Go figure.
I unintentionally tried to get “artsy” with the sauce. I skipped the store-brand tomato sauce and used Italian tomatoes imported from Italy – because that’s what was in the pantry.
These “special” tomatoes come whole in the can, so there wasn’t as much liquid as normal. An old, warm beer sitting in a closet, waiting patiently for the next batch of beer bread became a prime target. It was mild and wouldn’t made the sauce taste bad, right? The question I should have considered was whether it would make the sauce taste good…
A head of garlic was peeled and roughly chopped. Carrots, celery and two green bell peppers from the fridge were tossed in. There was one pound of ground turkey in the freezer, but the recipe called for a second pound of spicy sausage. Caution was thrown out the window and the turkey went in, alone.
“The ratio of tomatoes to vegetables seems low,” I thought to myself as I added a can of diced tomatoes.
With each addition of randomness, the original recipe became a distant memory.
To further add injustice, I didn’t even taste the sauce. The half tablespoon of Italian seasoning blend remaining in the small canister was dumped in. Half tablespoon of seasoning? Where’s the salt? No pepper? Had I lost my mind? Oh yeah, I should probably make mention that this recipe was being made in a 6 qt slow-cooker.
This sauce broke all the recipe rules and the family knew it. One bite of sauce-laden pasta and the jig was up. It was a dark pink, not deep red. Thin, not thick. Bland, not rich and spicy with flavors galore.
Additional proof: there are still 7 jars left in my freezer and two weeks later, no one has asked for spaghetti yet.
Mr. Crumbs announces to the kids “It’s Wednesday guys! What does that mean?!” The anticipated answer? “SPAGHETTI!!” (in unison)
The real answer since the last spaghetti night? Silence.
Step 2 – Don’t Make Enough Pasta
Before spaghetti night, we had three boxes of pasta in the pantry. There is determination to eat as much food as we possibly can during this challenge. At the same time, we can’t eat it all in one sitting. For the health of my family (and my sanity), there should always be a box of something for a last minute request of lemon caper chicken or Greek pasta salad. Besides, I know for a fact that if I make a whole box, it will not get eaten.
Surely I’m not the only passenger in this pasta boat. Make a whole box and there’s leftovers for days. Pasta for lunch, pasta for dinner, pasta for lunch again and there’s still some left!
My goal is to make 2 ounces of pasta per person at the table. This easily covered dinner plus a leftover for a lunch the next day. Using a kitchen scale made this easy and predictable.
Wouldn’t you know that my kitchen scale died just days before spaghetti night. Poor thing lasted me more years that it should have - I’m sincerely grateful - but it sure would have been handy to have on spaghetti night.
Eyeballing and guessing what 8 ounces looked like just reaffirmed my purpose for having a kitchen scale in the first place. My guestimate seemed small in the pot of boiling water, but the tiny glimmer of hope in my head was saying that fettuccine noodles were thicker and would “fill us up” so we didn’t have to cook as much.
Mr. Crumbs asked if I made less pasta than normal. Again, my conscious kicked in, telling me that all was a-ok.
That glimmer of hope needs a lesson in practicality.
As the noodles drained, reality set in. It was not enough. Noodles were served to the kids and ourselves and there were none left. Not.a.single.noodle. I crossed my fingers that no one wanted a second helping.
Step 3 – Serve Uncooked Bread
A single batch of leftover pizza dough became a loaf of bread one week. I knew the loaf would taste like pizza dough (because it was), but it would hold us over until the next batch of “real” bread. Throwing it away just felt like such a waste (which it is).
And just like any good loaf of bread, it’s key to bake it thoroughly. No one wants to eat raw bread dough with their spaghetti, right?
I could have used that reminder the day I baked the bread.
As we sliced this Italian-bread, fit for our Italian meal, a thick dark line of uncooked dough shone through the middle of each slice.
Not even the delicious, grass-fed Kerrygold butter could save it.
So there’s my epic fail at spaghetti night – what should have been a super easy dinner that everyone loves. Fortunately, my husband was very supportive. As I nearly cried at the table, adding much needed salt to the spaghetti sauce, he smiled and said to me, “It’s o-kay babe. Your meals are always amazing. It’s kinda funny that it all went wrong on spaghetti. But you know what? It would make a great blog post.”
I love you too honey. Thanks for not reaching for peanut butter and crackers after dinner. =)