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February 7, 2010

Super Bowl food and my not-so-wicked stepmother

WhoDat.jpgI'm already bored with the snow and I haven't even dug my car out yet.

One thing it's done is made me forget about posting anything about Super Bowl food, except for the top five unhealthy ones. Before the snow, I was thinking of looking into whether any restaurants were doing anything this past week. (I know, for instance, that Regi's American Bistro in Federal Hill has been running New Orleans specials.)

And I haven't even asked you yet what, if anything, you're serving during the game tonight.

Yesterday I made my stepmother's spaghetti sauce for Super Bowl dinner tonight. (That is, it will be eaten in front of the TV.) ...

This is not a fancy Italian sauce, and it's not even a homey comfort food southern Italian sauce. My stepmother was from Nashville. Can you have a southern spaghetti sauce? That's what this is.

My father married her a year after my mother died, which I resented because I was convinced he only married her because he wanted someone to cook for him again. But we ended up getting quite close in the decade after my father died. She turned out to be a fine grandmother to Gailor, who was too young to remember my mother.

My stepmother did have peculiar food habits. For instance, she could never eat the same breakfasts two days in a row. I would come downstairs and she would be fixing kippers or chicken livers for breakfast for herself -- something different every day.

And she wasn't much of a cook. Once when we were visiting over July 4, she served me some meringues she had made. They were surprisingly delicious -- dry and crisp. It wasn't until after I had eaten several that she announced she had made them the summer before and just discovered them in a tin on the back of a kitchen shelf.

Well, I didn't die.

Anyway, I'm getting away from Super Bowl food and my stepmother's spaghetti sauce. It's the one thing I ever got her recipe for, and I'm going to give it to you here only because if I don't someone will ask for it. It's easy and I think it's good, but I'm not pretending it will change your life.

Grandmother Dorothea's Spaghetti Sauce

4 pieces of bacon

2 medium onions, chopped

2 medium green peppers, seed and chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon butter

4 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, unseasoned

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (not paste)

2 tablespoons Worchestershire Sauce (very important)

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Freshly ground pepper, salt to taste

While chopping the veggies, except for the mushrooms, cook the bacon slowly in a large skillet. When done, set aside and cook the veggies in the drippings until translucent. 

Cook the mushrooms in another frying pan in the butter until lightly brown.

When the mushrooms are done, add to the other vegetables and brown the ground beef in the mushroom pan. 

Put all the ingredients together and simmer covered at least one hour. Add water if necessary. Freezes well.

Makes 4 servings.

I'm not sure what she did with the bacon, whether she crumbled it and added it or not. I don't.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 6:43 AM | | Comments (31)


Thanks for sharing those family memories, EL.

Captcha: survivor wanted

You eat the bacon while the mushrooms brown, is that it?

You eat the bacon for dessert. I already siad under another topic but since you asked here, jambalaya for the Super Bowl, for good luck. WHO DAT SAY DE GONNA BEAT DEM SAINTS!

it sounds remarkably like my mom's sauce! Her main trick was to keep stirring the meat while it was browning so that you didn't have big hunks 'o meat but rather fine almost pureed meat that was homogeneous with the rest of the sauce.

I'm not sure why but my father used to call it Mexican spaghetti sauce.

Let us all hope the Saints win, and the other team is sent back in defeat to that second-rate-city in that a second-rate-state.

I am for the Colts and Indiana. While cheering Peyton Manning on to his second Super Bowl Victory I will be eating pizza burgers and drinking Hop Wallop from Victory Brewing.

The only recipe my mother has ever used for spaghetti sauce is brown the meat, add onion, and a jar of sauce. I still use this recipe with the addition of fresh garlic and I use Bove's Sauce instead of Ragu.

The difference is this one has more vegetables obviously in it. EL

Elite Elephant Lover--never afraid to stake out a contrarian point of view!

I'm actually from Indiana and can assure you that Baltimore does not compare favorably to Indianapolis. To call Indianapolis a second-rate town when you live in this pit is ludicrous.

Go Colts!

I'd rather live in Newark than Indianapolis. And I'm a Midwesterner born and bred.

I would be very interested in exactly what people have against Indianapolis other than the whole stealing of the Colts thing.

That probably pretty much covers it, I'm guessing. :-) EL

EEL, in my case, it is also a Michigander's hatred of Indiana and a personal dislike of towns described as "good places to raise children." In my experience, those are boring places with no culture and bad restaurants.

Plus children need to be stretched. If they aren't, they grow into small minded adults.

EEL, yea it's about the Colts. I know you are from St. Louis, so the only thing I can compare it to would be if the Cardinals (the baseball team...not the football team) would have packed up in the middle of the night and moved out to Phoenix.

If you get the chance, watch the documentary that Barry Levinson did about the Colt marching band. It really does a good job of showing how much the Colts meant to this town.

Amy, this pit? Well, if that's how you feel perhaps you should go back to Indiana with your corn, your "One Day at a Time", and your little pink houses for you and me.

I don't blame Bidwell for heading west. Unlike the billionaire owners here and other cities the Cardinals are all he has for income. He had to go where the money is.

I will say I am very glad I lived in a boring small town when I was raising my daughter. However, I have no desire to move back. Overall the weather is much nicer here. As far as culture and restaurants I think St. Louis is on a par with Baltimore.

Indiana wants me, lord, I can't go back there!

Years ago when we bought our first house in Baltimore, my in-laws arrived from the Midwest for their first visit. I'll never forget that when my mother-in-law got out of the car she was looking at our little house in rapture, saying "It has a STYLE!" I understood what she meant when we looked at houses in the Midwest. (Needless to say, we decided to stay here!)

EEL, while I'm normally an advocate for free markets, I'm a populist when it comes to sports.

I admit I'm a hypocrite. Then again, as Voltaire wrote: "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

Anyway, as to St. Louis being like Baltimore, I can see that. I also think Baltimore is like Cincy. There are a lot of similarities between these border towns with one foot in the North and one in the South.

RoCK, I do believe that line goes to Emerson.

I believe the original is, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." It is Emerson, not from "Self Reliance," but another of his well-known essays.

Dang...I obviously need to reread Emerson.

Lissa, there was a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education which suggested that Emerson be dropped from the syllabus altogether.

Oh, Voltaire or Emerson is of little consequence. I still can't stand Indy.

Neither Voltaire nor Emerson would have liked Indy, I'm sure.

Dahlink, they are always proposing crazy stuff like that. Emerson is good enough that he'll always find his readers, I suspect.

Coming late to this one, but...

While cheering Peyton Manning on to his second Super Bowl Victory I will be eating pizza burgers and drinking Hop Wallop from Victory Brewing.

How'd that turn out for ya...?

...I know you are from St. Louis...

Wasn't that football team once known as the St. Louis Browns?


The St. Louis Browns were a baseball team that moved to Baltimore and became the major league Orioles in 1954.

St. Louis' football team was the Cardinals, before they moved out to Phoenix. Now they have the old L.A. Rams.

I thought it was the Cleveland Browns in football?

Well sean atleast the pizza burgers were good and I had a great Chianti Classico to go with them.

I had forgotten that the evil city of Baltimore had stolen the beloved St. Louis Browns. It was a little befor my time but I can still be mad.

C'mon, EEL, Baltimore didn't "steal" the Browns from St. Louis -- rather, Bill Veeck tried to move the team to Milwaukee or Baltimore, but was blocked by his fellow AL owners, so he was forced to sell the team to a group which moved it to Baltimore. Veeck was a great showman, but he sure had a way of cheesing off the people who could have helped him the most.

The Cleveland Browns relocated to Baltimore before the 1996 season.

So Baltimore's baseball and football teams both used to be called "Browns" in their former cities.

If my name was "Browns," I'd change it, too. Despite "Boys on the Side."

The St. Louis Browns were always second fiddle to the Cardinals. Stealing the baseball Browns was like SF taking the NY baseball Giants. Sure Brooklyn cried over the Dodgers, but how much heartache was there in NY when the Giants left?

The Browns were set to move to Los Angeles, but were blocked by owners. They eventually moved to Baltimore.

Read more about the Browns at their blog and websites at and

Download the Browns Fan Club newsletter at: Read about Tommy Lasorda being almost a Brownie.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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