Gifts promote well-being in both the giver and receiver. A beloved friend gave me a Valentine’s present of heart-shaped pasta; immediately I created this red sauce so I could enjoy my new treasure. May we indulge in this excellent covering for either pasta or spaghetti squash; follow my easy instructions, if your dietary needs call for a vegetable rather than a starch with this piquant accompaniment.
My mother’s favorite language of love was that of gift giving. She always blessed her children with bountiful offerings, from Easter to St. Patrick’s Day, and on every holiday in between; thus, I learned at an early age the power of contributions from the heart. As a result I love to shower favor upon others, as well as graciously receive their inspired kindnesses.
This same act of generous sacrifice plays a lively part in my relationship with my Father in heaven, for I constantly seek to offer myself to him. In doing so, I must slow down, move forward cautiously, relax, and especially trust the process; in this way, I proffer my life to my Maker moment by moment. Results are a glorious existence; he has healed all my material matters!
I was specifically made to ardently search for the highest good in everything; this is especially true in my interacting with God. However this process often brings tension, for resistance arises.
We see an explicit example of this opposition in our practice of eating: here polarity is experienced between a desire to quietly absorb pleasure, allowing gratitude in, and a friction arising out of our need to resolve storms present in our beings. Taut emotions can result as we struggle to calm overactive minds, so we can enjoy our food. This dichotomy in our bodies can be countered with prayer. Great grace is needed, however, if heightened feelings cause us even to miss the opening blessing over our nutriments.
Grace, mercy, and thanksgiving are of the highest order. When the above happens to me while eating, I immediately search my heart for honest moves of gratitude, which usually include my two favorite gifts from God: I have vibrant health (because I am able to eat sanely) and an immense supply of resources, including the highest quality of food.
These two endowments were not always present with me, for I knew excessive physical and financial poverty in the past. At one point I had a 226 pound body, that couldn’t stop eating compulsively; now it is clothed better than Solomon in a size small. All devouring of my economic supply has likewise ended. An apt example of this is the recent demolition of my computer, at which juncture I stood, looked out my window at the river below, and spoke the word: all things come together for good for those that love God and are called according to his purpose. Joyful faith rose in me, I was convinced that increase was on its way.
Indeed it was! For after waiting patiently six weeks, I now publish my blog with the fastest of computers, an I-7 laptop equipped with a new wireless keyboard, mouse, printer, and monitor setup. In addition to the outstanding quality of these, I have a fiber optic internet connection, instead of DSL, with 90 times more power and a monthly fee that is slightly less!
This unheard of upgrade, a sign of the Father’s immense love for us, was further outdone by the monetary provision for this loss. First, great deals gave me $700 worth of equipment for $280; next, my Lord moved on the hearts of three separate parties to help with my needs. He outdid himself, however, for the full amount was exceeded by half again as much, or $140 was left over in gift monies! This is just one simple example of how my needs are always met today. Our Father, who owns the cattle on a 1000 hills, indeed showers us with blessings, if we but believe.
He loves each and every one of us! Right now, his heart is reaching out, to set us free from all wounds that hinder his glory from manifesting in our lives. He is only about goodness, as my testimony proves.
Back to my friend who gave me the Valentine’s gift of heart-shaped pasta. Let us learn the beauty of giving and receiving: what goes around comes around, for she is now anxiously awaiting my recipe for red sauce. This beloved one initially obeyed God by giving me this gourmet food, which in turn equipped me to reach out with my cooking/writing ministry; hence, she is reaping the benefits of her offering with this post.
My prayer is that our gracious Father meet us today with all our particular needs, thus releasing his promised healing in us, who dare to receive it; then, we can go to his world proclaiming his outstanding goodness!
Simple Red Sauce for Pasta or Spaghetti Squash Yields: about 2 quarts of sauce. Total prep time: 1 hour/ active prep time: 30 minutes/ cooking time: 30 minutes. (Spaghetti squash requires approximately 1 1/2 hr to bake.)
4 tbsp oil (Coconut oil is best for flavor and quality here; avocado oil will also do; olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)
1 medium/large yellow onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef
1 lb romanesco or 3/4 lb mushrooms (I like to use romanesco for variety’s sake; it is a green variant of cauliflower, which is available in the organic section at better supermarkets.)
3 tbsp butter, if using mushrooms
2-15 ounce cans of tomato sauce (Hunt’s and Simple Truth, at our local Fred Meyer’s, make inexpensive organic tomato sauces.)
1-15 ounce can of water
2 tsp dried oregano (Trader Joe’s carries a superb, organic dried oregano for $1.99!)
1 tbsp dried basil (Also available inexpensively at Trader’s.)
1 tsp sugar (I prefer organic; available at Trader’s and also in a more economical 10 lb bag at Costco.)
2 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste (Real Salt is important for optimum health, available in nutrition section at local supermarket.)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, more to taste
5 extra-large garlic cloves, minced (3 cubes of Trader’s frozen garlic is better here.)
1/4 cup tomato paste (Open a 6 ounce can and freeze individual 1/4 cup servings in small plastic bags, to be thawed as needed.)
Pasta or a 4-5 lb spaghetti squash (This spaghetti squash yields 4-6 servings.)
Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved
- If using spaghetti squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees; pierce squash with a fork multiple times; place on side on foil-covered cookie sheet, and bake for approximately 1 1/2 hour, turning halfway through, at 3/4 hour. Cool 10 minutes for handling, cut lengthwise, take out seeds, and scrape out “noodles” with a fork, when ready to serve.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a 3 quart saucepan over medium heat; add a small piece of onion; when it sizzles, add rest of onions and sweat (cook until translucent); see photo.
- Fry beef in sauté pan; salt and pepper generously before cooking; drain fat if there is a great deal of excess, when finished. Proceed to next step, while meat is cooking.
- If using romanesco, clean and cut into very small pieces, add to translucent onions, and cook until somewhat soft, about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the cooked beef to onion mixture, along with tomato sauce, water, herbs, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and garlic. Blend well. (Set aside sauté pan.)
- Cover saucepan with a splash shield, which is available at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (see top photo); bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium/low and simmer for 30 minutes. Go to next step.
- If you are using mushrooms instead of romanesco, clean them by brushing off dirt with a mushroom brush, cut into small chunks. Heat butter in the sauté pan, cook mushrooms in hot butter for several minutes, until slightly limp, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and juices to sauce.
- Meanwhile if serving with pasta, boil a large pot of water, to which 2 tbsp oil (any kind will do) and 2 tsp salt are added.
- When sauce has simmered for 30 minutes, blend in tomato paste; cook for several minutes, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Boil pasta 10 minutes before serving, or if using spaghetti squash, split baked squash in half lengthwise, take out seeds, and scoop out noodle-like membrane with a fork.
- Pour hot sauce over noodles and top with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
- Note: may freeze small individual containers of leftover sauce, to be conveniently thawed for future use. This is dynamite!