My dad is the master cooker/baker of about ten items, possibly more. He has the talent of becoming fixated on one food item (custard, sourdough bread, garlic bread) and perfecting it. He tries different variations and tests it until he has mastered the perfect yeast root beer (that was when I was in college.) And we all get to sample the attempts, which are all amazing. Sometimes he is happy with them and sometimes he wants to try more herbs or a different flavor, but he is always trying to better his recipes. I still think he should have a cooking show. Every time we return to Las Vegas, it is expected that he will make spaghetti. Last time, he made it after Blake left, so I promised Blake I would make it when I got home. It wasn’t AS good, but we managed to get by.
My dad is a retired construction foreman. You wouldn’t expect to see him roll up his sleeves and get flour on his hands for dough or crack eggs for custard and then make you (nicely) watch him make it, just so he can teach you of his ways. But he does. You wouldn’t expect him to watch cooking shows on Saturday mornings. Anyone remember Yan Can Cook on PBS circa 1990? He was a fan. When he comes to visit, we sometimes watch cooking shows and sometimes we watch Americas Test Kitchen for probably too many hours. When I was a kid, he wore an apron that said, “Look out McDonalds!” He is pretty amazing that way. My mom has a lucky set up these days, having a master chef for a husband. That being said, the first time I had his spaghetti, I forgot that Italian restaurants existed and assumed that my dad had morphed into an Italian mama, but no, it was still my dad. He begins with only fresh roma tomatoes, 16 of them. The year we grew roma tomatoes in the garden, my son and husband were “hallelujahing” because that meant dad’s spaghetti sauce.
You blanch those tomatoes and cut them up. Mostly they fall apart and that’s a good thing. Then you cut up garlic, you decide how much. Then an onion or two. And you sauté them in olive oil. Yum. Then you put it all into a crockpot or pot and add some meatballs and Italian spices and a big can of tomatoes and some tomato paste and let it sit there for a looooong time. And occasionally stir it. And remark at how delicious it smells and try not to sneak too many tastes, so that you aren’t hungry at dinner. (Dad, I’m talking to you!) Then you add olives and mushrooms and call yourself the spaghetti master. Spencer, my son, says he and Grandpa are the spaghetti masters and he is right. It’s important to pass these traditions down.
Now, not only does dad make it for us when we come, but he makes it for birthdays, missionaries, friends and maybe now, all of you who are lucky enough to live in the vicinity of Las Vegas. I’m talking to you Monica and Ryan, you lucky bums. And he totally would make it for anyone. That is just the wonderful person he is. He is giving and caring and thinks about other people. He never has a bad word to say about anyone. That is a rare and special gift. I was talking to my dad the other day. He called just to see how I was doing. I am so lucky. I think he thought he was off the hook because he isn’t a woman and therefore, won’t be part of my “Other Mother” series, but someone this amazing can’t be kept secret. He must be shared with the world! So, watch out dad, this won’t be the last time I talk about how great you are. XO
My recreation of dad’s spaghetti. I guess it will have to do since he lives 24 hours away and apparently can’t come over and make dinner at our house every night.
My dad and I at in n out. Yum. He came and helped out with our kids in Utah when Blake’s brother passed away. What a great dad.