I find myself with the dubious task of trying to find something for my 15 year old son to do. I’m not sure if you have the same problem but he is at a stage in his life that he is old enough to stay at home by himself (yeah, for a little bit of mom independence) but not old enough to have a summer job. There are some jobs that he could have done but we did not apply in time. So my options for him are to keep him busy and off the computer for at least part of the time. So far we have come up with these few alternatives:
- reading (the newspaper, a book, etc.) something that is not a computer screen
- household chores: taking garbage out, walking the dog, cleaning his bathroom, steaming the floors
- looking for a volunteer position that he can do a few hours a week
- finishing the James Bond Marathon (more on that later…)
- learning life skills: cooking being the most important one
I was in the grocery store yesterday and noticed that there was a new product that has frozen veggies all ready to prep for making spaghetti sauce. There was ground beef on sale and I had the other ingredients in the pantry so it seemed like a slam dunk. I am not a great cook. I think I enjoy it then I get bogged down in the minutia of chopping, measuring and adding just the right herbs and spices. Good cooking is contingent on doing the proper prep work. This is what drew me to this bag of frozen veggies: it is all done for you. The frozen bag of veggies consisted of onions, celery, carrots, green peppers and red peppers – all chopped up into little pieces. The whole 750 gr. bag cost $2.00. I couldn’t even buy all those ingredients and chop them up for two dollars. It was a bargain!
Compliment’s Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce
1 TSP (5mL)
1 LB (500 g)
1 PACKAGE (750 g)
½ TSP (2 mL)
2 TSP (10 mL)
1 TSP (5 mL)
1 CAN (796 mL)
1 TBSP (15 mL)
½ TSP (2 mL)
6 TBSP (90 mL)
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
LEAN GROUND BEEF
CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
COMPLIMENTS VEGETABLE MIX FOR SPAGHETTI
GROUND BLACK PEPPER
DRIED ITALIAN SEASONING (see recipe below)
CRUSHED TOMATOES or strained tomatoes
|1. BROWN BEEF IN A MEDIUM-SIZED SAUCEPAN WITH OLIVE OIL OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT, THEN ADD GARLIC, VEGETABLES, PEPPER AND ITALIAN SEASONING. COOK FOR 5 MINUTES.|
|2. ADD REMAINING INGREDIENTS, BRING TO A SIMMER AND CONTINUE SIMMERING OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT FOR 30 MINUTES. ADJUST SEASONING WITH SALT AS REQUIRED.|
|3. SERVE OVER COOKED SPAGHETTI AND TOP WITH FRESH GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE.|
In order to really teach my son the subtleties of cooking it’s important that you follow all the directions and then make some adjustments for your family’s taste. We don’t usually buy Italian seasoning, as it turned out, we had all the ingredients to create our own blend. So back to the Google cookbook we went and found a recipe that appealed to me (I was not too keen on the ones that had added sugar or salt). I stuck to the basics and we made our own Italian Seasoning. I have to say I would double the amount that the package suggested (1 tsp.) because there are a lot of vegetables in that bag! You may want to try 1.5 teaspoons first and add more at the end if you wanted. I would feel comfortable putting two level teaspoons.
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
Mix all the ingredients together and store in a glass jar. This makes about a quarter of a cup.
We also added one whole Bay leaf (as my dad said you can’t make spaghetti sauce without it). I added that once the sauce started to simmer. I also doubled the amount of water listed.Three tablespoons did not seem like enough. You can certainly add just that amount but I think you will see that the sauce was a bit too thick. My new found friend in the kitchen is strained tomatoes. I discovered these at the local International Bakery (really, it’s mostly an Italian bakery…truth be told). It is straight up tomatoes and a bit of water. Because they are strained there does not seem to be the acidic after taste that canned tomatoes can add to a dish. Although I like stewed tomatoes for stews I prefer this pureed (clean) flavour better.
I love the addition of the balsamic vinegar it added a depth that I’ve never tasted in a spaghetti sauce before. There was also a bit of honey, that I would have omitted (as I don’t like anything sweet in my spaghetti sauce) but my son insisted that you needed to add it to take away the acidity of the tomatoes. Who am I to argue with a Teen Chef. I was pretty stoked that he really enjoyed the whole process and the learning experience. The recipe was not complicated but it had a few more steps than other things that we have cooked together.
I have reached out to some of my blogging friends and asked them to share some of their easy to make, no fail, kid friendly recipes to make with my son. Next week we may bake or try out a meatloaf. So many wonderful recipes to chose from. I will be sharing our attempt at making it together and sharing links to all of their websites. Stay tuned…
Do you cook with your teens?
Post a link to your favourite recipe!