Not long after my son got married, Angela asked me for the secret to my famous spaghetti sauce. Well, I'm not sure if she called it famous, but she confided in me that her spaghetti sauce didn't taste quite like mine when she made it. What exactly did I put in mine? Ha! How many women have been asked that question by their new daughter-in-law and, out of trying to stay one step ahead of their new "daughter," given her the recipe but conveniently left out the one ingredient that sets mom's apart from the rest. Like tabasco sauce in tuna fish salad. I actually read that one recently in Southern Living magazine, and may have to try it sometime. I love tuna fish salad, and I could see tabasco sauce taking it up a notch (famous chef talk from Emeril). But as you probably know and, if not, I'll clear it up now: I am not -- I repeat NOT -- a gourmet cook, a food blogger, or anything that resembles either of the two. I learned to cook from my sweet mother, Beverly Rae, who learned to cook from her sweet mother, Ella Mae, who learned to cook from her sweet mother, Charity Arnold. The three of us have always been just basic home cooks. Well, it's just me now because all three of these wonderful ladies before me have gone to their eternal home. But they did -- and I do -- cook basic food...you know, meat loaf, pot roast, mashed potatoes, potato salad, green beans -- just typical everyday food with a Southern twist to it. And by that I mean Paula Deen style -- lots of mayo, lots of butter, lots of cheese and sour cream, pork in our vegetables. When my kids were coming up, I did place my own personal spin on these beloved family favorites in an effort to make them more healthful for my young family. I substituted peanut oil for the pork in veggies, ground turkey for ground beef, baked and broiled more than fried. And hopefully, those small changes made a difference in the way my girls eat today because they both are very conscious of what they put in their bodies. My boy, on the other hand, not so much. He'll take his ranch dressing and cheese with a side of lettuce, please.
But back to the spaghetti. After much thought and prayer, I told Angela that I would indeed give her the special secret ingredient to my spaghetti sauce. But I made her swear with lifted hand never to repeat it or, God forbid, give it away. She agreed. But now that time has passed, and I feel it's my duty to the world to let the family spaghetti sauce secret be known. Or maybe I just wanna come clean. So here I go...
It's ketchup. Whuuuuut? Angela laughed. Yes, ketchup, I said. Then I commenced to spill out the long complicated story of how my "ketchup spaghetti" came to be. If I remember correctly, I was preparing spaghetti one night and realized I needed more sauce (My sauce of choice? Plain old original jarred Ragu). I was in a time crunch to keep dinner on schedule, so I reached for the only thing I had in the fridge that would sub -- a bottle of, yes, plain ol' ketchup. Of course I told no one but, to my delight, the sauce was some of the best I'd ever made. I mean, what isn't made better with a little sugar added? It also gave the sauce a texture that was pleasing -- smoother and creamier. So this is the actually "rather-short" story of my famous (or not) spaghetti sauce and how it came to be. I believe Angela added this special ingredient for awhile to her sauce, but hopefully in recent years she has had the good sense to leave it out. Actually, as long as I'm confessing, I might as well tell it all. I still put ketchup in my spaghetti sauce and no one, not one single person, has ever complained. But I'm sure many would find it ridiculous with all the really good sauces out there on the market, and the fact that you can make a perfectly delicious sauce with a can of Hunt's tomatoes and a few spices. But I happen to like my sauce with a side of high fructose corn syrup. I guess my son comes by it naturally. Don't judge.
The moral of this story? First, men are to never, ever compare their wife's cooking to their mother's. It's the first and sometimes last mistake made by newly married men. Ladies, pass this truth on to your husbands, your sons, your nephews, anyone of the male species who might ever possibly take a bride. Second, ladies, never, ever lie to your daughter-in-law. Just ain't the Christian thing to do.
Even if, however embarrassing, your claim to fame is ketchup spaghetti.
Posted by CC
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