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:

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

Grant Street Adventure: Chuchifrito Hut

We live on Grant and Lafayette above Sweet_ness 7 Cafe on Buffalo’s West side.  We moved here from the Elmwood Village almost two years ago and even though it’s only a 15 minute walk between the two vastly different Neighborhoods, we still feel like we’re braving a new frontier.  Unlike the Elmwood Village, Sweetness 7 Cafewhich is for the most part thriving as we speak, the West Side is just getting its legs back after years of spiraling decline.  One surprising source for the slow but undeniable revitalization is a burgeoning immigrant population which has contributed to new business growth in countless ways.  Once known as a thriving Italian neighborhood, the West Side has become enriched by the arrival of newcomers from Puerto Rico, Somalia, Sudan, Burma, and many other places in the world.

Recently we enjoyed a very different kind of lunch for us from the Cuchifrito Hut, a Puerto Rican food stand right across from our apartment.  Smoked pork with fried plantains and rice with pigeon peas.  We had enough meat left over to fashion pulled pork sandwiches for dinner later on.  We sautéed some onions, added the pork all chopped up,  BBQ sauce, served it on buns dressed with coleslaw from Wegmans deli and pickles.  We served Island Beans on the side, also from Wegmans deli.  A perfect solution for two meals on a day that was too hot to cook – inside that is.  Take a look at that pig!!