June 30, 2010

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe – Schill Family Spaghetti Sauce

My goodness, it's certainly been a while since the last time I was able to share a recipe here on Chronically Vintage with all of you. While my (personal) diet hasn't exactly been putting the menus at five star restaurants to shame lately (ahh, the joys of being ill ;P), that doesn't mean that notions of of food haven't been dancing through my head. In fact, I find that the blander - or less diverse - my day-to-day eats become, the more I start daydreaming about treasured favourite dishes, exciting recipes I'm eager to true, and delicious thoughts of food in general.

Few recipes in the whole world conjure up such instantaneous memories of childhood suppers as this hearty, robust pasta sauce does for me. Oh how, I used to adore it when my mom would make a giant pot of this marvellously tasty spaghetti and meat sauce, the scent of green peppers, onions and tomatoes simmering away together into an almost magical final product that nourished our bodies and souls alike.

{Though four different varieties of tomato products are called upon in this dish to help give it its rich flavour, you don’t quite need a full shopping cart of tomato sauce – unless you want to serve a very large crowd, for which this recipe would be perfect as it multiples wonderfully well. Vintage Hunts Tomato Sauce advertisement via Shelf Life Taste Test’s Flickr stream.}

Though my mom’s family isn’t Italian at all, this recipe is one that’s been developed and handed down through the generations, residing now in my cookbook (and still routinely made by other family members as well). It’s a dish that I feel needs little to no adaptation (and given my penchant for playing around with recipes, that really says a lot).

Aside from the fact I often make this with ground chicken or turkey instead of beef (or forgo the meat entire and toss in large quantities of vegetables), there is nothing that I do to tweak this scrumptious recipe. It is perfect to me exactly as it – but, should you try it out for yourself, please feel free to edit it however you wish (that’s so much of the fun of cooking after all!).

Wonderful Wednesday Recipe – Schill Family Spaghetti Sauce


•2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or other mild flavoured cooking oil)

•1 very large (or two small) green bell peppers, deseeded and finely chopped

•1 medium sized white or yellow onion, finely chopped

•1 1/2 cups sliced or chopped fresh button mushrooms

•2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or crushed)

•1 can (28oz/800g) can tomato sauce (or equal quantities of tomato sauce or pasatta di pomodoro)

•1 can (28oz/800g) diced tomatoes (or whole/sliced tomatoes that you dice up yourself)

•1 can (6oz/170g) tomato paste

•1/3 cup tomato ketchup

•1 ½ to 2lbs (680 to 910 grams) lean ground (minced) beef, well browned and drained of excess fat (lean ground turkey, chicken, veal or pork can be used instead, if desired)

•1/2 cup strong beef stock (homemade or good quality store bought; use vegetable or chicken stock if using ground chicken or turkey)

•2tbsp white sugar (optional, but I feel it does a marvellous job of cutting through the acidic bite of all the tomato products used in this recipe)

•Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper (both to taste)


In a large, heavy bottomed pot (or Dutch oven), warm the olive oil over medium heat and add in the vegetables (except for the garlic). Sauté for a few minutes, stirring often, until the onions have turned translucent, then add in the garlic and cook for about one minute. Add in all of the other ingredients and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Cover the pot and cook the spaghetti sauce for at least 1 1/2 hours, stirring from time-to-time, to ensure it doesn’t begin to stick to the bottom of the pot. You’re aiming for a moist, but no soupy, sauce, so continue cooking further if you think the sauce has yet to thicken up enough (I’ve often simmered this sauce for four or five hours over low heat, and in fact try to do so when time permits, as I find the longer cooking time really helps to intensify the flavours).

Taste sauce to check for seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if desired. Remove pot from heat and let the sauce stand for ten minutes before ladling it over spaghetti (or any other pasta), a heaping bowl of freshly grated parmesan accompanying it to the table.

Leftovers will keep for at least four days in the fridge, and can also be frozen (this sauce freezes like a dream) for at no less than three months in a freezer-safe container.

This hearty sauce is truly a meal in itself, but should you wish to accompany your heaping plate of pasta with something else, a light green salad or some steamed veggies (like string beans or zucchini circles dressed with a little olive oil and sea salt) makes a lovely accompaniment.

Serves 4 to 6 people (at least)

Bon appétit!

June 22, 2010

“Thank you” doesn’t even begin to cover my gratitude

My dearest friends, a month has passed since I last sat down to write a new entry for this blog. During that time – as many of you may know from the two posts my husband, Tony, kindly put up in my absence – I’ve been contenting with some serious health issues. One of which landed me, rather suddenly and unexpectedly, in the hospital during for a spell.

The outpouring of support, care and concern that we (Tony and I) received from has been nothing short of staggering. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to just how to express my profound thanks to each and every one of you who left comments on Tony’s posts and/or emailed us privately about my situation.

Each day when he came to visit me at the hospital, Tony would print off and bring all of your messages and comments, and when I returned home (but wasn’t yet well enough to use my computer), he would read them out to me from his laptop. I don’t think a single day passed that I wasn’t moved to the point of tears by the staggeringly beautiful care and friendship that shone through your words.

From the very bottom of my heart, thank you so much, everybody, for your support, companionship and concern during this rocky time. Your meaningful words lifted my spirits greatly and truly meant the world to me.

While this "elevated" medical situation is far from over still, I wanted to begin posting again – albeit on a considerably less frequent basis than usual (perhaps one or two posts a week, but we'll just see how things go as the coming weeks unfold). I miss you all – and blogging! – so much. Chronically Vintage is an integral part of my life, and going so long (especially when the hiatus was unplanned) without writing new posts has felt nothing short of alien.

Yesterday marked the summer solstice, the beginning of the warmest (if in you live in Northern Hemisphere, that is) season of the year, and one of my favourite annual events. I don’t know exactly what summer months have in store for me health-wise on a day-to-day basis, but as of the Monday before last (14th), I do at least know when I’ll be having (gallbladder removal) surgery: August 25th.

{I’m on strict doctor’s orders to take things super easy this summer, but on days when I can, I plan on blogging from my bed or the sofa. Now, if only I could look as gorgeous as this lovely vintage gal while doing so! :D Vintage image from Saltycotton’s Flickr stream.}

In the days leading up until the end of August, amidst and ongoing assortment of medical visits, and when my (pesky! ;D) health permits, I hope to be able to blog, to connect with you all, and to keep the spirit of Chronically Vintage going strong.

Sweetest dears, thank you again for your tremendously thoughtful comments and emails, knowing that you understand the situation and are there me has been an invaluable comfort.

With the utmost of appreciation and love, I wish you each a sublimely beautiful, highly memorable, and entirely enjoyable summer ahead!

June 11, 2010

An update on Jessica’s situation

Hi everyone,

Let me begin by expressing – on behalf of both Jessica and I – tons of thanks for all of your kind and understanding comments and emails. I’ve shared them all with Jess as they’ve come in and can tell you that they’ve truly meant a great deal to her.

I wanted to post to let you know where things are presently at. Initially when Jessica had gone into the hospital (for a severe gallstone attack – the second one that week) we’d been told by numerous doctors that they wanted to do an exploratory surgical procedure, and this opinion held for the first 2-3 days. However, instead of going that route it was decided to temporarily hold off, and to run a number of tests (ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, ongoing blood work, etc) over the coming days, while keeping Jess in the hospital (though her white blood cell count appeared normal, certain enzyme levels were elevated which made her doctors suspect she might be running an infection, so pretty much from the get-go they pumped her full of intravenously administered, heavy-duty antibiotics). They also just wanted to monitor her because of the severity of the attacks that’d she’d been having (I should mention, this issue relating to Jessica’s gallbladder popped up for the first time ever at the end of this past March).

Frighteningly, Jess experienced an immediate anaphylactic reaction to the dye (called “contrast dye”) that was used during the CT scan and suddenly became unable to breathe (her throat swelled shut within moments of the dye being administered). Fortunately however, they stopped giving her the dye and got her on oxygen quickly, so in the end she didn’t lose consciousness (or worse, though I shudder to think of such things). I’m happy to say that she made a complete recovery from this experience, but I think she very nearly dodged an unexpected bullet there.

All of the tests confirmed what prior ones (done before she was in the hospital) had already shown, and as Jess had had an appointment scheduled with a surgeon on June 14th (the appointment was made by her GP weeks ago) to discuss her gallbladder situation (we’ve been led to believe by the doctors at the hospital that this surgeon will make a decision as to when Jess will be having surgery, and what kind of surgery that will be), they sent her home from the hospital a few days after her enzyme levels dropped back down near normal levels, with instructions to rest and not overexert herself as much as possible.

Unfortunately, her time in the hospital paired with the around-the-clock antibiotics they gave her (while beneficial in certain regards) caused some of Jessica’s (pre-existing) chronic conditions to flare-up extremely badly, and she continues to battle with those flare-ups plus the ongoing gallbladder area pain that she’s experienced since her first attack back in March.

These things coupled with her orders to rest as much as possible, means that she’s not able to return to blogging on any sort of regular basis for the time being. I know that she misses Chronically Vintage and her blogging friends very much though, and that she’ll start posting again when her health permits.

In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed that her appointment with the surgeon goes well on Monday and that it results in her getting closer to a solution this medical problem. (Either Jess or myself will continue to keep you updated in the near future.)

Thank you very much for your ongoing kindness and understanding,
Antonio Cangiano (acangiano@gmail.com)