I started off my Saturday morning at 4 AM when I peeled myself off the heated mattress and put one foot onto the cold wooden floor of this almost 100 year old house. Even rising that early left little time for coffee, for I had to assemble my regalia and dress before my ride arrived and we would make the almost 3 hour trek to graduation. I knew I was in for a long day, so Mr. B, who I awoke with my alarm, volunteered to make dinner and have it ready and waiting when I arrived home later in the day.
Cold morning, long drive, and too little sleep didn’t matter when I took my rightful place on the stage and extend my hand in congratulations as the students passed by, now graduates and ready to move on with their dreams. It’s one of the things I love the most about what I do, especially when the graduates are older and have made so many sacrifices to achieve their success. The joy and love is overwhelming and usually keeps me buoyant–and awake–as I make the seemingly doubly long trek back home.
It’s the feeling of love that carries me though the front door and across the threshold and, of course, the heavenly and intoxicating aroma of Mr. B’s magical dinner and when he rounds the kitchen corner, dish towel in hand, to kiss me, he exclaims, “I’ve made something you’re going to love.” Then, he takes my hand and leads me right into the kitchen and straight to the stove and proudly lifts the lid of the pot and tells me, “I’ve made lamb Bolognese for you.” And, he pronounces it in an old-school Italian accent that draws the word out into at least eight syllables.
I’m startled and he sees the shock register on my face. It’s not something that we’ve ever made before and I’m as shocked by that as I am by the alluring waft of deliciousness that rises, along with the steam, from the pot. But, before I can say anything, he already has a sample on a spoon and it’s headed straight toward my lips, “Here–taste this,” he says as I open my mouth and fall into pure bliss–the lamb, the tomatoes, the bits of carrot and just enough oregano and garlic are unlike anything I’ve ever had before. So, I take off my coat and shoes and graciously accept the glass of wine he brings me and wait, as patiently as possible, while he puts the water on to boil the fresh pasta and puts the bread into the toaster oven.
I already know that I’ll sleep well, a day filled with love and now, the promise of a bowl of pasta and a glass or two of wine. Not bad for a Saturday evening only days into a New Year.
1 pound of grass-fed, New Zealand lamb
1/2 a small onion, finely diced
2 ribs of celery, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 can of tomato paste (6 ounces)
2 cans of water (12 ounces)
1 bay leaf
oregano, salt, and fresh pepper to taste
1. Brown the lamb in a pot and when nearly cooked, add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; cook until the vegetables are soft and cooked through.
2. Add the tomato paste, water, bay leaf, and oregano, along with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Let cook, adding more water as needed, until fragrant and complexly flavored.
4. Serve with fresh pasta and Parmesan cheese and a glass or two of red wine–plus, fresh toasted bread to sop up any juices that remain.