Savory Spaghetti Sauce with a Splash of Something Special
by Amanda Wilson
Most people can probably say there is one person in their family that is an amazing cook. That person for me is my grandmother. Below, I detail a recipe I learned while watching my grandmother cook. The only time I ever witnessed my grandmother using a measuring cup was when she used it to water the plants in her kitchen window. The closest I saw her come to following a recipe was to double check she had all the ingredients on hand before starting to cook or bake. I remember watching her as she bent over her thick volume of Converse Family Recipes, a homemade cookbook containing all the recipes that have been passed down from mother to daughter since the Converses came to America, to consult a recipe for the evening’s meal. The Table of Contents was browned with age and slightly crinkled where my great-aunt’s typewriter snagged the page. Just thinking of that book—the smell of the pages, the texture of the construction paper cover, and the cool silver rings holding it all together—makes me salivate. I still associate the “old book smell” with amazing food.
When I was 4, maybe 5, I asked my gram how I could be a “good cooker” like her. She looked at me, smiled, and said, “Don’t overthink it. Smell the ingredients, taste as you go, and keep an eye on it.”
I took that advice to heart and use it whenever I cook. Sure, I refer to cookbooks for baking and use measuring instruments because I still can’t eyeball a teaspoon or ¾ of a cup like my gram, but when it comes to the savory, I stick with Gram’s philosophy. I have mastered chili and spaghetti sauce, two family favorites, but it took years of practice before I earned my gram’s stamp of approval.
With that hard-earned approval from Gram, I felt confident enough to start tinkering with the recipes to suit my own taste and needs. The recipes are sacred, so I don’t veer too far from the originals. I just add a few herbs, change out the spices, and add a heaping dose of magic. While my kitchen witchery entails stirring blessings into food and making my own cleaning products, both of which include herbs I grow and harvest myself, that is not what defines a kitchen witch. In fact, a kitchen witch need not work in the kitchen at all. This title refers to witches who work with what they have—witches who are resourceful, witches who weave magic into every mundane aspect of their day.
A few weeks ago, my mother accepted an invitation to come for dinner, giving me the perfect opportunity to put one of my charms to the test. On the morning of our dinner date, I got out the crockpot, as spaghetti sauce tastes best when it’s been simmering for several hours (all day is best!). Using the rising sun for a boost of energy, I carefully added and stirred in magic. I knew my magic worked when she called a week later saying she won $50 on a scratch ticket. I hadn’t told her about the blessing I added, so I knew she wasn’t making it up for my benefit. The sauce was charmed to bring luck, stress relief, and prosperity. While $50 from a scratch-off isn’t significant prosperity, it was amazing luck and relieved the stress she was feeling when she had an unexpected expense come up.
Below is my recipe for this blessed sauce. As I said before, I don’t use exact measurements when I cook savory foods, so keep the following in mind:
Don’t overthink it. Smell the ingredients, taste as you go, and keep an eye on it.
Amanda- Spaghetti Sauce (with a splash of something special)
Quick Note: The following ingredients are based on sauce made in a 2-quart crockpot. If you have a larger crockpot, adjust as necessary.
1 lb. 93% lean ground beef (Ground turkey or tofu are acceptable substitutes.)
½ a sweet onion, chopped (about 1/3 c.)
1-2 tsp. minced garlic
1 jar (24 oz.) of your preferred spaghetti sauce
¼ c. margarine (Feel free to add more.)
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
½ Tbsp. vegetable oil (I tend to use one capful.)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
1/8 c. sugar
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp. sweet basil (I grow and harvest my own basil, but store-bought works too.)
1 Tbsp. dried thyme (I recommend using organic thyme.)
First, I get out everything I need and set up my work area. I chop the onions, mince the garlic, and set out all the ingredients where they are accessible but not in the way. Then, I go to the window that faces the rising sun. The moon is so often suggested in spell work, but many seem to forget about the moon’s companion, the sun. When I can feel the sunlight warming my skin, I close my eyes and feel its power fill my body with energy. I envision the blessings I will stir into the sauce: stress relief, good luck, and prosperity.
Once you feel energized and ready to work some kitchen magic, plug in your crockpot, set it to high, and pour in your preferred pasta sauce—I prefer Prego, traditional or meat-flavored. Drop in a few heaping spoonfuls of margarine and shake in some grated parmesan cheese, enough so there is a thin layer covering the top of the sauce. Sprinkle in some sugar (the amount of sauce, the size of the crockpot, and your taste preferences will determine how much to put in). I add about ½ teaspoon when I start the sauce and usually add a pinch here and there until I’ve reached that perfect balance—not too sweet but no acidic bite either. Give it a clockwise stir and put the lid on the crockpot.
Now, it’s time to start the meat! Put a large frying pan or skillet on medium-high heat. Add just a splash of vegetable oil and sweat the garlic. Then, add the onions and turn the heat to high so you get a nice crisp edge on the onions. If you prefer softer onions, keep the heat at medium-high. When the onions and garlic are tender, add the hamburger, using a spatula to break the meat into smaller bits. Add a pinch of salt and pepper periodically, chop, and let the mixture sizzle. Turn the heat down to medium/medium-low when the meat starts to brown.
At this point, the crockpot is nice and hot, so give the sauce a clockwise stir. When you are working to attract something, always stir clockwise (or deosil). If you want to banish, then you will stir counterclockwise (or tuathail). If your crockpot gets hot quickly, you’ll want to do this sooner to prevent the sauce from burning. As you’re cooking, start thinking about who you’re cooking for; think about the love you feel for them. Take a pinch of thyme and sprinkle it over the hamburger, add another dash of pepper if you like a little kick, and remove the pan from heat. Drain any grease you may have, then add the mixture to the crockpot.
Tip: To prevent overflowing your crockpot, add a spoonful or two of meat at a time, then stir it in, repeating until the pot is full.
Now, it’s time for some witchy fun! Pick up one bay leaf and, holding it in your power hand, think of a blessing you wish to bring to your loved ones through the sauce. When you have the blessing clear in your mind, envision your loved ones receiving the blessing, then hold the leaf over the pot and crush it in your fist, letting the bits fall into the sauce. Stir clockwise. Repeat with the remaining two bay leaves. Next, add the basil to taste. Instead of shaking it in, pour it into your hand. Use your fingertips to sprinkle it in while thinking about the prosperity and good luck it will attract. Sprinkle, stir, taste, repeat. Keep in mind that the flavors will blossom as the sauce cooks, so start small.
Turn the crockpot down to low, give it three more heartfelt stirs, then put the lid on and go about your day. I get to work from home, so I stir the sauce with intention at least once every three hours. Stirring with intention sends energy to the sauce through the spoon. I tend to use sequences of threes, but do what feels right for you. If you think random is better, then randomly stir with intention, my lovely witch. When the pasta is done, get a ladle and dig in!
Spaghetti is a simple but delicious meal you can easily prepare and share with family and loved ones. It is versatile enough that you have the option to tweak it to meet anyone’s satisfaction. My son loves mini wheels, but I prefer thin spaghetti. It really doesn’t matter what kind of pasta you use because it is the sauce that matters. Feel free to tinker with the recipe as well. If you like green peppers or Cajun spice, toss in to your liking! The only ingredient you cannot leave out is LOVE.
Enjoy and bright blessings to you, my beloved readers!
Classic Pasta Sauce - Tonya's Adaptation -
- 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef Ground turkey or tofu are acceptable substitutes.
- ½ a sweet onion chopped (about 1/3 c.)
- 1-2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 jar 24 oz. of your preferred spaghetti sauce
- ¼ c. margarine Feel free to add more.
- 2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ Tbsp. vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/8 c. sugar
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp. sweet basil I grow and harvest my own basil, but store-bought works too.
- 1 Tbsp. dried thyme I recommend using organic thyme.
- 1 package of favorite pasta
- Prepare ingredients. Add oil to a large sauce pan over medium high heat. Add in onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
- Add in ground beef and cook until browned and season with salt and pepper.
- Add in jarred sauce along with sugar, bay leaves, Parmesan cheese, basil, and thyme. Pro tip - if you add in too much sugar, add a squeeze of lemon juice to balance it out.
- Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer. I started mine on a Sunday morning and let simmer all day until dinner. Keep an eye on it, and stir regularly. Remove bay leaves before serving.
- When ready to serve bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add butter to the sauce and stir until melted. Then add in the pasta water and stir until will combined. Finally, drain the pasta and add to the sauce and mix until the pasta and sauce perfectly brought together.
- Optional: Top with basil and Parmesan