Spring Is On The Way!

This morning I took Max for his morning walk and encountered the smell of spring faintly in the air.  I took a deep breath and let that familiar scent enter my lungs and process in my brain.  I smiled and exhaled with a sigh of relief…spring is on the way! The actual first day of spring is Friday March 20, however in my past experience with mother nature, she does not give a shit about our calendar. She will do what she wants when she wants.  If she decides she is going to bring down one more snow fall in March, she will do it.  Worry NOT, for it does no good…enjoy the transition period and before you know it, spring will be here exactly when it is supposed to be here.

According to the 5 Element Theory the period during the TRANSITION of the  seasons is marked by the element of EARTH.  Earth is the grounding or centering element.   The climate is damp (which would make sense around these parts with all the snow melting).  The organs are the spleen (yin) and the stomach (yang)  The color is yellow, the taste is sweet, and the feeling is thought.

I was introduced to this concept when I attended a presentation titled “Eating for Longevity-A Seasonal Approach” given by Teri Mosey.  The entire talk was fascinating and in stride with TICOS PACE.  We already kind of naturally do this right?…when it’s cold outside most of us crave a hearty soup.  Fruits that are not in season and are flown in, just don’t taste the same (they are also more expensive).  The problem is we get in our own way.  Distractions, media, ego and hectic lifestyles impede us from making decisions that our body actually wants and is good for us.  If we can quiet all the noise and listen to what our soul really needs for nourishment,  we can create harmony with our internal nature and the external world.

Recently, I have been giving a lot more thought to food and playing with ingredients I have never

Playing butternut squash

Playing butternut squash

cooked with before.  Some crazy stuff is happening with butternut squash right now! I am not sure if it will make me one with the universe, but it certainly can’t hurt.  If you are into this you can check out Teri Mosey’s website where she has posted different recipes that go with the seasons and other holistic nutrition services.  You can also check out Rhonda Parkinson’s write-up on The Five Elements Theory of Chinese Cooking.

So embrace this transition period, be thoughtful, and listen to your body…it knows best.  Spring will be here soon!

Ticos in the kitchen-Bolognese sauce

It’s Sunday, so that means it’s time to cook my meal for the week.  This week something new!  I was inspired from my visit last weekend to my sister from another mother Renee.  This is her sister’s recipe and she killed it, so good that I had to make it myself.

Renee making her sister's recipe last weekened

Renee making her sister’s recipe last weekend

WARNING, this is not one of those 15 minute meals, this takes some time, but the flavors are amazing…as I always say “anything worth having takes some time”.  If you are trying to impress a lucky someone, this should be a go-to recipe in your aresnal.  Sandra’s insturctions are on the money, and will leave people highly impressed with your culinary skills. Sandra is Renee’s sister and is soon expecting (congratulations Sandra!!) and her recipe was super easy to follow.  Typically, I am not a recipe follower…I usually rely more on my nose, taste, and latino intuition.  This time I pretty much followed the recipe, but did add a little crushed red peppers to give it a little kick.  I like my coffee strong and my food with a little kick.

Sandra’s Bolognese Sauce

1 yellow onion
2 slim or 1 thick carrot
Olive oil
2 pounds ground beef (80/20 or close to that)
2 small cans tomato paste
Red wine
Bay leaves, Fresh thyme

1. Chop:
-2 of the celery ribs
-3 cloves of garlic
really really fine. If you have a food processor, just chop into chunks and throw em in and pulse until finely chopped. Otherwise chop really really small pieces.

2. Heat a large sauce pot over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. At least 3 tablespoons, but you can eyeball it.

3. Add your chopped veggies and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook for about 15 minutes until evenly brown, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Dark brown is good, black is bad 🙂 Don’t worry if some pieces stick to the bottom it’ll all work out.

4. Add your ground beef and season again with salt and pepper. Brown the beef really well, breaking it up into bits as it cooks. This will take about 10 minutes.

5. Add two small cans of tomato paste and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Add 2 cups of red wine and deglaze the pan (scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom). Let the wine reduce (evaporate) by about half.

7. Add enough water to cover the whole deal by about an inch. Toss in 2 bay leaves and a couple sprigs of fresh thyme. Stir it all up good. Reduce your heat to medium and bring it to a very low simmer. Leave uncovered!

8. For the next 3-4 hours…..
From time to time (check it like every 45 mins or so) add about a cup of water to the sauce and stir it up. The flavor will develop from very wine-y to really robust tomato sauce over a few hours. Taste and add more salt and pepper if you like.

*After the 3 hour mark it starts to taste super awesome! So give it at least 3 to 3.5 hours.

**If adding mushrooms, sauté them separately in olive oil until cooked and add them after step number 7.

This was fun to make and will make your place smell amazing.  Also it involves wine, which means for me I am going to have a few glasses while I cook.  I acutally had to buy another bottle of red for it this morning cause I accidently drank too much of it last night (oops).   While I was making this meal, I was face timing with my mom in Costa Rica…and to my surprise she was cooking “Canalones”.  Maybe I’ll make those week.

Hope you enjoyed,

Much love

Alcides “Tico” Cummins

** I paired this sauce with some whole wheat  Fusilli Pasta (to keep it somewhat healthy) and Shaved Grana Padano Parmesan.  Thank you Trader Joe’s for the ingredients.  The sauce came out amazing, the flavor was so rich, however I will admit, I think Renee made it better.  Something about the consistency of hers was superior to mine.  Maybe it was the the type of wine I used, but I think she just has the touch when it comes to this dish.

Where all the magic happens

Where all the magic happens