Sunday, September 2, 2012

Microclimates

I have kvetched here frequently about our non-summer, so bear with me while I do it again. While our days usually end with sunshine, almost all of them this summer have begun with heavy fog that hangs around until late morning (if we are lucky) and even early afternoon (on the really crunky days). And it has been windy as well as cool. I've worn shorts exactly twice this summer and had only a handful of days when I could comfortably sit out on the deck.

The San Francisco Bay area is famous for its microclimates. It can be hot as the hinges of hell out in the Livermore Valley while it's overcast, blowing a gale and chilly here by the bay. My friends in Marin are wearing bathing suits and shorts while we put on sweaters and long pants, not 10 miles apart. One day years ago, My Beloved left his business in Novato when the temperature was in the 90s and drove home 15 miles, where the temperature was 60.

There is an up side to all this cool weather. One has only to read about the weather in our suffering Midwest to feel a little gratitude for our natural air conditioning. I can also remember the sticky, humid summers when I lived back east and I have no desire to experience them again. But, the best part about chilly summer is that you can happily eat more wintry fare.

This spaghetti sauce, for example. A Bolognese that has passed through my friend Meredith's imagination, who gave me the recipe. She adds unexpected ingredients such as ripe olives and cinnamon to her version and, since she taught me how to make bolognese forty years ago, I rarely stray from her recipe.

I didn't have spaghetti in the house, so used penne instead. It's still wonderfully flavorful, only easier (and not quite as much fun) to eat. You can save this until fall arrives for you, or make some now if you are living, as we are, in a chilly little microclimate.

Meredith's Spaghetti (with some embellishments)

1/2 cup chopped onion
(3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped)
1 pound ground beef
1 can chopped tomatoes (16 oz)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
12 sliced mushrooms
1 cup red wine
2-3 Tablespoons Italian herbs (oregano, basil)
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf (if they are small, 2 bay leaves)
sliced ripe olives
(Cinnamon or allspice to taste)

Soften the onions in a little olive oil. Add the beef and brown thoroughly. Add the rest of the ingredients, mixing thoroughly, and simmer for about 2 hours. If it's too thick at serving time, add a little water. If it's too thin, you can thicken it with a little tomato paste. 

Serve over pasta and pass the Parmigiano.

2 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

That pasta would be great on any day. Nice photo. Love the cheese on top.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, thanks - my photography doesn't equal yours, but it's fun to try.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012  

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