Spaghetti Meat Sauce

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I never knew that Italian-Americans had their own language until I started dating one. They use word “macaroni” when referring to any and all non-long-noodle-shaped pasta; they insist upon calling mozzarella just “mozz”—pronounced “mutz.” Somehow, their Mediterranean linguistic witchcraft transforms “capocollo” into “gabagool.” Many—but not all—of them also have the strange habit of dubbing tomato sauce (specifically, tomato sauce spiked with meatballs and sausage) “gravy,” though from this outsider’s perspective, there seems to be no rhyme or reason regarding who calls it what. But hey, I grew up believing that “slippy” was a real word—so who am I to talk? Continue reading

Creamed Spinach and Cheese

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I’ve got some bad news for you. You can follow this recipe exactly as written; you might even like what you end up with. But whatever you do, your ultra-’50s creamed spinach—a.k.a. frozen greens mixed with gloppy canned soup; tres chic—won’t be as good as the dish I made for Thanksgiving last month.

Why? Because barring some sort of crazy cosmic coincidence, chances are that your spinach, unlike mine, will not be hand-squeezed by a Moo. Continue reading

Cranberry Sauce

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A serious question, worth serious consideration: Why don’t we eat cranberry sauce, like, all the time?

I get why other foods are slotted into the once-a-year special guest category. Latkes, as we all know, are a real pain in the ass to form and cook, with the grating and the squeezing and the frying and the draining; so, I would imagine, are tamales, which is why assembling them has become an annual tradition for zillions of Mexicans and Mexican-American families. You don’t throw together an incredibly labor intensive dish like these any old day—you save them for capital-O Occasions, both to justify the work they require and to lend the event where you’re serving them an extra air of celebration. Continue reading

Roast Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing

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Let’s talk turkey.

Mikey and I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time this year, a slightly terrifying prospect that ended up going surprisingly smoothly. I only broke one brand-new glass in the process! And dropped a full container of yogurt at one point, which spurted all the way across the room. Oh, and I also dropped a sheet-pan-sized cracker while attempting to flip it over halfway through its baking time, shattering a good quarter of it and getting various kinds of seeds all over the counter. But other than that: smooooooth sailing. Continue reading

Banana Cream Pie

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TGIPS. (Thank God It’s Pie Season, obviously.)

I mean, sure, it’s not the season for this kind of pie. This one isn’t crafted from seasonal, indigenously American ingredients, humble orange things that grow on the ground or just below its surface. No, it’s really more of a cold-weather pie—a blind-baked crust topped with tropical fruit and a fridge-chilled filling, albeit one that doesn’t necessarily scream “swimsuit weather.” Hell, eat enough of this gut bomb, and you might just never wear a swimsuit again. (Unrelated: ask me about my post-honeymoon, post-election-depression bloat!) Continue reading