Archive for May, 2012

Super Yummy, Super Easy Pasta Sauce

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

I really do prepare items other than cookies in my kitchen.  My monthly recipes have tended to be baked goods that my grandchildren love.  To this collection today I am adding something that I started making for the daddies probably about 40 years ago.

When asked what favorite they would like for a birthday dinner, the answer was for many years – spaghetti.  To them that meant spaghetti with meat sauce.  A few years ago I served again this for Christmas lunch.  ”May I have more” was heard from young and old.

I came upon this recipe in a Good Housekeeping booklet that was inserted into an  issue of Good Housekeeping magazine before it was included in the publication of their cookbook.

This is a thick and slightly sweet pasta sauce with meat that is so easy to put together.

Good Housekeeping Meat Sauce

1 pound ground beef (I use ground round)

2 teaspoons of olive oil

1 medium onon, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (original recipe called for 1, but I love garlic)

1 can tomatoes

12 ounces tomato paste

4 teaspoons sugar

2 teaspoons oregano leaves

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1 bay leaf

In Dutch oven over medium heat, in hot olive oil, cook ground beef, onion and garlic until meat is well browned;  if there is an excess of fat, spoon it off.  I usually do not need to do this since I use a minimum amount of olive oil and lean beef.

One of my sons, growing up,  refused to eat anything that had discernible pieces of tomato in it so I would put the tomatoes in the food processor and quickly blended them.  To that I added the tomato paste and combined the two into a smooth mixture.

Then stir this mixture and remaining ingredients into the meat mixture.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 35 minutes or until sauce is very thick, stirring occasionally.  Remove the bay leaf and it is ready to serve.  This makes about 4 cups of sauce for pasta.

I served the pasta and sauce with homemade hard rolls and a green salad.  Maybe sometime I’ll also share the recipe for the hard rolls.  They are not quick and easy like the sauce, but so good that the time and effort are worthwhile.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  I am going to take advantage of my 5th Wednesday rule.  (If a month has 5 Wednesdays, I take the 5th one off.)  I’ll be back in June talking about the Wiggles and Crunchy Munchy Honey Cakes.  I hope you visit again.


I met Wrigley, the goat

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

I met the cutest goat this week – Wrigley.

Wrigley is no ordinary goat.  He is a goat who travels in good company – with 5 guys who have been walking from Arizona to Wrigley Field in Chicago to Crack the Curse against the Chicago Cubs (they have not been in a World Series since 1945 – see last post) and to help find a cure for cancer by collecting donations for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Fund.

And further Wrigley has his own TWITTER account.  He daily tweets his thoughts about the day’s journey.  On Tuesday evening at 6:55PM he tweeted, “I can see Illinois.  These guys can’t push my cart fast enough.”  (Due to all the St. Louis traffic and the act of going over the bridge Wrigley was confined to his cart for the day’s travels.

I had written last week about the arrival of the Crack the Curse crew + Wrigley in St. Louis.  Arrive they did.  On Monday they visited the Cardinals Kids Cancer Center.  The children enjoyed petting Wrigley and giving him treats.  Cheez-its seemed to be a hit with the goat.

Locker Dome, a sports social media website,  ( had offered the group including Wrigley a place to stay for the night.  Accompanied by my grandchildren, I stopped by the Locker Dome office, and we met Wrigley.

Here my grandson, granddaughter, two of the Crack the Curse crew and I are attempting to pose with Wrigley.  I think he was ready for another handful of Cheez-its and not for standing still and being petted.

The fellows + goat headed for the river front to visit the Arch and to visit with others at the Arch.  They all stopped by Busch Stadium and talked with a few Cub players and many Cub fans who had make the trip to St. Louis for the game.  The fellows had tickets for the evening game between the Cubs and the Cardinals.  Wrigley did not have a ticket.

Wrigley went back to Locker  Dome, where an intern was waiting to goat-sit for the evening.

Tuesday meant back on the road and over the border into Illinois.  They are on their final leg of the 1900 mile trip.  On Tuesday, May 15 they camped out in Alton, IL.  Now the trek northward to the Friendly Confines with its ivy covered wall (and Wrigley the goat has been quoted as saying he would like to get a taste of that ivy) begins – 25 miles (or so) a day.

If you want to see the Crack the Curse entourage, they will be reaching the Springfield, IL area on Saturday, May 19; Bloomington, IL about Monday, May 21.  These are estimates based on a 25 mile a day.  They plan to continue sticking close to the old Route 66 (I-55) on roads that allow walkers.  If they will be near you, why not drive out to visit them.  They love snacks and Wrigley also does.  You can give them contributions to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Fund.  Donations can also be made at their website:

You can follow their progress by checking the blog: Their daily post typically goes up about 10:00PM.  They are also on Face Book at Crack the Curse.

I have so enjoyed following the daily updates from Matt and the fellows and now the tweets from Wrigley.

Thank you for stopping by Grandma in the Mailbox.  Next week I’ll publish a recipe from the past.  Hope you visit again.




Crack the Curse

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

I am a baseball fan; I am a Cub fan – the diehard kind of Cub fan.  The Cubs are always waiting for next year – maybe that will be a good year.  Is there a curse against the Cubs?

Back in 1945 the Cubs were playing the Detroit Tigers in the World Series in Wrigley Field.  William Sianis, a tavern owner, decided to go to the game – WITH his goat.  He even bought a ticket for the goat.  They got to their seats and were watching the game or at least Sianis was when it started to rain.  After the rain, came the sun.  After the sun’s warmth started shining on the goat, nearby fans complained of the odor of wet goat.  Sianis and the goat were asked to leave the ball park.  The Cubs lost the game, and they lost a fan.

Sianis stood outside Wrigley Field and invoked a curse, promising that the Cubs would not play in another World Series in Wrigley Field because his goat had been insulted.

The Cubs lost that World Series and as predicted the Cubs have not played another World Series in Wrigley Field.  In April 1969 just before his death, Sianis is said to have lifted the curse.  However, still no World Series.

From time to time fans come up with ideas for breaking the “curse.”  Last winter some fellows who had worked together at Denali National Park in Alaska came up with an idea.  They were baseball fans, and all but one was a Cub fan.  They would walk from Mesa, Arizona, the site of Cub spring training to Wrigley Field to break the “curse.”

Since all the men had been touched by cancer – a friend or a family member having suffered from cancer, they decided that as they walked,  they would try to raise money for cancer research. Money that is donated is given to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  Hutchinson is a former baseball player who died from cancer.

They decided to take a friend with them – Wrigley, a goat that they purchased on Craigslist.

The fellows departed from Mesa, Arizona, on February 25, the birthday of the late Ron Santo, a Cub star who lost his life to cancer.  The fellows walk about 25 miles a day.  Wrigley walks about 4 or 5 miles a day.  Then he rides in a utility cart that the guys adapted for Wrigley.

They camp out at night and fix their own meals.  As they have journeyed closer and closer to Chicago, word has spread about their journey.  Well wishers bring them food and water and money for the cancer fund.  Some have provided lodging for them overnight.

They have walked through a dust storm in New Mexico and were near the outbreak of tornadoes that occurred in Oklahoma a few weeks ago.  They along with Wrigley huddled in a truck stop with other travelers until the storms passed by.

As I write, the guys and Wrigley have completed Day 74 of walking and spent last night in Cuba, Missouri.  They will arrive in St. Louis this weekend when the Cubs are there to play the Cardinals.  They hope to see the Monday night game.  Who will goat-sit, I wonder.  Then it will be up Route 66 (I-55) to Chicago.

Next Tuesday they will start the final leg of  their trip.  I’ll figure out when they will be nearby using the 25 miles a day formula and then journey over to see them.  I’ll take some treats for men and goat and a donation to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.  I hope to get my photo taken with Wrigley.

If you want to follow the Crack the Curse crew, you can “like” them on Face Book at Crack the Curse.  They also have a website: At the website is a link to donate to the Hutchinson fund or to buy a tee shirt or sun glasses.  Each night as they settle in, they post an account of their day on Face Book and on their blog:

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  I hope you stop by to visit again sometime.





Time for a Birthday Cake

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

My granddaughter who lives 20 minutes away just celebrated her 8th birthday.  I have been the official cake baker for this princess all the way back to birthday #1.

She and her brother and I had a conference about the theme for her cake.  We have had a running joke for several years.  Her brother once wanted a car wash cake so she and I planned how to make it.  Then shortly before his birthday he changed the theme to his currently favorite Pixar movie.  Since that time I have been trying to sell the car wash theme each year.  My granddaughter looked at me and shook her head.  Maybe next year?

Eager for summer to come and eager to put on a swimming suit and head to a beach or pool, she selected a beach theme for her cake.

That sounded easy.  She and her brother went through the Play Mobile people that I have in the playroom.  They found a mother in a beach chair reading a book, a beach umbrella, two little ones to whom they gave ice cream cones and various beach toys.

My grandson requested the Play Mobile catalog and checked out other options, but I decided we had enough for a great cake.

The cake would have water (lake or ocean), and it would have a sandy area for the “people.”  I thought that raw sugar might work really well for sand.  The children weren’t sure so I poured some into a small bowl.  They looked at it; they tasted it, and it won their approval.

I baked the traditional (for this family) white cake using a box and a half of white Duncan Hines cake mix.  The cake was baked in a 2 inch deep 9 X 13 inch pan.   I stirred up my favorite butter cream frosting (recipe in the recipe archives).  Deep blue was added to half the frosting for the water; the white provided a base for our sandy beach.  I had found some beach creatures (octopus, dolphin, sea horse, whale, and fish) in the cake decorations at Hobby Lobby. These marine animals were placed into the blue water.

The raw sugar sand was sprinkled liberally on the white frosting.  Finally the sunbathing Play Mobile family was stuck into the sand.

One cake ready to party.  Mom put 8 candles into the water and we all sang Happy Birthday as the birthday lass huffed and puffed and blew the candles out – with a little help from her younger brother.

It is so much fun to make birthday cakes for my grandchildren.  They always greet the cake with smiles and “come look at what Grandma made” when I walk into the house with the cake.

Thank you for visiting Grandma in the Mailbox.  I have been following the walk from Arizona to  Chicago by 5 guys and a goat named Wrigley.  They are raising money for cancer research and trying to break the “curse” against the Chicago Cubs. My grandchildren enjoy hearing of  their adventures on the road.  They have reached Springfield, Missouri, as they tred northward. Check in next week to read all about it.