Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mother's Mill Mountain Spaghetti Sauce

This is the spaghetti sauce I knew growing up.  It isn't Italian.  My mother never claimed it to be.  And, how she came up with the name is a mystery.

My hometown of Roanoke lies west of the Blue Ridge and east of the Allegheny mountains.  It's in the Roanoke Valley (which is at the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley) and surrounded by various mountains.  Catawba Mountain, Dead Man's Mountain, a few I don't recall their names and, the most well-known, Mill Mountain.  Mill Mountain has a huge star that is illuminated at night.  My parents apparently never approved of that star.  They didn't approve of Mt. Rushmore either!  But, I digress.

As children, we loved picnics on the mountain, visits to the Children's Zoo that sits on top of the mountain and performances at the Mill Mountain Playhouse, which is no longer on the mountain.  And we grew up under the star.

We also longed for Chef B's spaghetti in a can but we always got Mill Mountain spaghetti sauce and it is good, really good.  My children know it as grandmother's spaghetti and were always happy when it bubbled away on the stove.

Here's the recipe.  I've tweaked it just a little.

Mother's Mill Mountain Spaghetti Sauce

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup chopped green peppers (for us a mix of yellow, orange and red peppers--no green)
1 tsp garlic powder (I used two fat cloves of garlic, minced)
1 pound hamburger meat (I used ground sirloin)
1 8-oz can sliced mushrooms (I used 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms quartered)
2 tsp oregano (I used 1 Tbsp of a natural herb blend sent me by my blog friend, Tammy)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 24 ounce can of marinara sauce (I used some I had frozen from last fall)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large sauce pan, heat the oil.  Add the onions and peppers and saute over medium heat for five minutes.  Add the ground meat, breaking up well and saute for about five minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic and saute for one minute (or the powder and just keep going).  Add the mushrooms and saute an additional three minutes.

2.  Stir in the oregano, bay leaf, sugar, tomato paste and marinara sauce.  Simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes, stirring often.  Taste and adjust the seasons.

3.  Serve over pasta and pass the Parmesan.