Allen’s Amazing Meatballs

Allen’s son, Tyree called me a few days ago asking for our recipe for Sunday Sauce.  He’s planning to cook for a group of about 15 people this week, and he was adamant that I also include instructions on how to make the meatballs that go with the delicious sauce.  It occurred to me that I don’t actually have the meatball recipe, as it exists only inside Allen’s head.  Wanting very much to help Tyree out, I patiently sat and transcribed the recipe as Allen dictated it to me at home that evening.

It turns out the recipe is really very simple and I decided to share it here (below).

The recipe for Sunday Sauce can be found on my July 22, 2012 post entitled:

Sunday Sauce Again.



1 lb hamburger
1 egg
1 small yellow onion
2 to 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup panko whole wheat bread crumbs
teaspoon of milk
2 to 3 tablespoons grated parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine all ingredients, but don’t over mix
2. You should get 12 – 15 small meatballs (less if you make large ones)
3. Brown the meatballs in cast iron skillet (2 -3 mins on all sides)
4. Add to sauce for the last hour of cooking

The Real Deal

On a recent work trip to Newport News, VA, I went in search of a meal at the end of my last full day there. This was trip number two to the area in as many weeks. All the nights previously I’d dined with colleagues at various spots located at the Peninsula Town Center close to the hotel. This time, however, I was on my own, and I was bound and determined to have an “authentic” experience.

Before heading out, I told a friend on the phone that I wanted to eat at “some old crab shack by the water,” and NOT the famous Joe’s. My friend wished me luck as I hung up the phone to embark on my quest. Success! I simply Googled “Crab Shack Newport News, VA” and I found the perfect spot! I enjoyed a delicious meal of Snow Crab Legs and a baked potato on the side at The Crab Shack on the east end of the James River. Not only was the meal fantastic, but the sunset was perfectly suited for my Instagram obsession. Click, click, click.

Another great place to try if you’re ever in the area is Smoke. I had BBQ lunch there twice. Delicious!

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Sunday Sauce Again

I have a dear friend in the hospital with baby number two and I promised to make this amazing Sunday Sauce from Wegman’s for her and her family to have when she comes home.  It’s a hearty and nutritious sauce that gets its flavor from seared meats, sauteed garlic and onions and 5 hours of slow simmering.  I made good on my promise today and took some pictures along the way.  The recipe at the bottom makes enough sauce to feed an army, so I decided to cut it in half to make it a more manageable delivery for my friend.  There’s still plenty for several meals, however, and the good news is, it’s excellent even after freezing.

1/4 cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 pkg (about 1 1/2 lbs) boneless country spare ribs
6 links Italian Classics Hot Italian Pork Sausage
2 pkgs (8 oz each) Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Chopped Onions (4 cups)
8 Tbsp (20 cloves) minced Food You Feel Good About Peeled Garlic
2 cans (6 oz each) Tomato Paste
4 cups water
6 cans (28 oz each) Italian Classics Coarse Ground Tomatoes
4 Tbsp dried basil
14 Homemade Meatballs (see related recipe), cooked
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in large braising pan on MEDIUM-HIGH; add ribs and sausage. Cook, turning, 2-5 min, until meats are browned on all sides. Transfer meats to stockpot; set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to LOW. Add onions and garlic to braising pan; cook, stirring, 10 min, until veggies are translucent.
  3. Raise heat to MEDIUM; add tomato paste. Cook, stirring, 3-4 min, until paste just begins to brown. Add water, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom of pan. Bring to simmer.
  4. Transfer tomato paste/water mixture to stockpot. Stir in canned tomatoes and basil. Bring to simmer on MEDIUM. Reduce heat to LOW. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 hours. Add cooked meatballs. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 hour.
  5. Carefully transfer meats to clean serving platter; cut meats into manageable pieces. Transfer sauce to serving bowl.
Chef Tip(s):
To get every bit of goodness from cans of tomato and tomato paste, rinse them with water and add that liquid to your sauce.

Check out my Sunday Sauce post from July 7, 2011

Coffee Syphon

On a recent trip to Toronto, Allen picked up a coffee syphon for my birthday.  I can’t say I’ve ever brewed a finer pot at home.  I’m pleased to report that in 27 easy steps, you too can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.  Ok, it’s only 6 steps plus clean up, and all for a cup of coffee well worth any labor of love you put into it.   Below, check out the photos I took of my first time using the coffee syphon, step by step instructions and video footage.

Now that I’ve made coffee in it a few times, I have the process pretty much down to a science with just the right amount of grounds and boiling time for the taste I enjoy.  My particular coffee syphon was made in Taiwan and the message on the packaging is very cheerful, informative and encouraging:

Have a Nice Coffee Time!  What kind of coffee do you like?  French or American?  Strong or Mild?  Much or Little?  You can have any type using our Coffee Syphon.

Modify brewing time and amount / grind / flavor of coffee to suite your taste.  Practice makes perfect, you’ll soon be an expert!

Below is the 6 step process for making coffee in a coffee syphon.

Watch my (short)  YouTube Video:

Lucinda of Lancaster

After our stay in Manchester, we headed for Lancaster where our hosts put us up in the charming Sun Hotel, a traditional English pub and hotel with a history going all the way back to 1610.  The Sun is located in the center of Lancaster, which is a vibrant university city with cobbled streets and stone houses filled with a wide array of shops, bars and restaurants.  Allen and I were struck by the number of boutiques and specialty stores we saw featuring such high end brands as Barbour and Patagonia, and specialty items like binoculars, telescopes, bikes, model trains and fishing gear.  With a population of about 46,000, Lancaster seemed rather small to us, but apparently it’s a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, which has a population of almost 135,000 and includes several outlying towns.

On our first night in Lancaster, Derek and Yoke Sum took us to their beautiful home in nearby Garstang, and I was delighted to finally meet their lively and affectionate Lucinda Dog, a standard poodle, who I’ve heard tell about on countless occasions but never met.

Lucinda of Lancaster, Molly Jarboe

Lucinda of Lancaster, Molly Jarboe

We walked to a neighborhood pub for a meal of fish and chips and other local fare.  It turns out, dogs are allowed in pubs in England and Luci came along.  She had some important business to tend to on the way, so Derek lead us through a wooden stile to a lush open field and Lucy did her thing, and got a little running in as well.

Chorlton Allotments

One of the many cool things we saw in Manchester was the allotment that Graeme and Bernadette are members of along with a small group of other people.  It’s less than a block from their home and situated right on the edge of beautiful Chorlton Park.  One evening we walked through the park, watched a group of young men playing cricket for a while, then stopped at their Allotment before heading back.

In the UK, allotments are small sections of land often owned by local government and rented to individuals usually for the purpose of growing food crops.   They can also be self managed and owned by the allotment holders through an association. Some allotments are even owned by the Church of England.

– Original Allotments:
The history of allotments can be said to go back over a thousand years to when the Saxons would clear a field from woodland which would be held in common. Following the Norman conquest, land ownership became more concentrated in the hands of the manorial lords, monasteries and church. The reformation in the 1540s confiscated much of the church lands but they were transferred via the crown to the lords.

In the late 1500s under Elizabeth I common lands used by the poor for growing food and keeping animals began to be enclosed dispossessing the poor. In compensation allotments of land were attached to tenant cottages. This is the first mention of allotments. – from

These days, growing concerns throughout the UK about genetic modification, chemical pollution and contamination of food as well as the desire for the freshest possible local, seasonal food have caused a rise in the demand for allotment spaces, empty plots are filling fast and waiting lists are no longer a thing of the past.

– Some things in season now:
artichoke, asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, courgette, fennel, lettuces & salad leaves, mangetout, new potatoes, onions, peas, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, runner beans, spinach, spring onions, turnips, watercress, cherries, elderflowers, gooseberries, kiwi fruit, strawberries, basil, chives, dill, elderflowers, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), rosemary, sorrel

Mini Road Trip

Last week Native Offerings Farm sent out an email letting all csa members know that they harvested another bunch of greens from the greenhouse.  We were all invited to go down to the farm on Saturday to pick up one final share.   With visions of  arugula, tatsoi, and vitamin greens dancing in our heads, Erika and I packed Aksel up and headed down to the town of Otto where the farm is situated in a long valley in Cattaraugus County. It was a gray, rainy day, but the drive was beautiful because all the new green growth of Spring glistened as it bathed in the light that filtered through the fog.

Native Offerings Farm

The town of Ellicottville is 9 miles northwest of the farm, so after we picked up our greens, we continued the drive and had lunch at the Elicottville Brewing Co.  I picked up a growler of their American-style Pale Ale which is “Copper in color, mildly malty, and packed with citrusy Cascade hop flavor and aroma.” A quiet, peaceful day well spent.  (Check out My CSA Adventure Blog)

Ellicottville Brewing Co.

Woodstock Adventure – Hurricane Irene

I had grand plans of returning from a recent photo workshop in Woodstock, NY with loads of glorious food adventures to share, but Hurricane Irene put a damper on that idea.  In fact it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten as poorly as I did on this trip.  It’s a shame too, considering all the quaint little restaurants and eating spots nestled in and around Woodstock which is located in the Hudson Valley at the foothills of the Catskills.  Of course it’s not entirely Irene’s fault. With the business of photographing all day Friday in preparation for the workshop, a full day of class, more shooting and an evening lecture Saturday, it was difficult to plan for good eating even while knowing that a hurricane of historical proportions was about to hit that very night.  By Sunday morning the power was out all over Woodstock.  There were heavy downpours, high winds, trees and power lines down all over and flooding on the roads.  The workshop was postponed until the following morning and finding (good) food near by was next to impossible.

Fortunately I did manage to enjoy a wonderfull cup of coffee at Oriole9 Cafe on Friday morning before going out to shoot all day and on Saturday morning right before the first day of the workshop.  I look forward to eating and sipping at this cafe every time I visit the area.  And this is not your average cup of coffee!

First of all, all of their coffee  is organic, fair trade and rainforest alliance certified.  And second, when you order a cup of coffee you will be pleasantly surprised to see that you’re not getting regular drip coffee.  They bring out what must be an Americano which is prepared by adding hot water to espresso.  Compared to other coffee brewing methods, espresso often has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of suspended solids, and crema (foam).  And if you don’t like it black, they’ll bring you a side of steamed milk.

But don’t just go for the coffee.  They have a wonderful menu as well.  I was delighted to learn that they are in their second year of partnering with the Woodstock Day School in planning, planting and operating a farm on school grounds, which provides a live lab for students and fresh, organic vegetables for their restaurant.

Definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area!

I’ll be posting more about this trip on my other blog, Tender Ardour by and by.