Tasting by the Book (TBTB), a new concept in fundraising, arrived at the Abington Community Library (ACL) in October 2015. Resoundingly successful, the event will make a return appearance again this October!
Sharing special food delicacies prepared by local donating cooks not only guaranteed a marvelously varied array of appetizers, entrees and desserts for folks to graze on…but also introduced some unusual and delicious specialty food items to the crowd.
Pam Swift, creator of a fabulous red sauce and meatball dish, shares her reasons for loving our library…as well as her recipe below:
I would love to share my relationship with ACL because it is such a positive and happy experience. Growing up in Scranton ,we had a local library branch that I used often, so when I had young children I wanted them to develop a relationship with a great local institution that would benefit them for the rest of their lives and fortunately… our local library was so close to my home.
For many years my family used the ACL facilities. There was always a story hour or summer reading program to attend. They were tutored and did tutoring in the back of the library and played games on the computers . The Girl Scouts met there to trade cookies or have an impromptu meeting and …for all of this ….there was never a charge.
Like mother nature, we do take our little library for granted, it is always there.
Now my children are older, two of them have worked there and made life long friends with the other workers; my mother-in-law is there (sometimes twice a week) getting books! So, when I was asked to contribute to a cooking fundraiser it became a time for me to return the many favors I have received in the past.
When I was first approached I had no idea the vision the chair people had for a new and exciting way to support the library. I thought it was going to be in the tradition of a bake sale or some other vendor oriented fundraiser. Not until a few days before did I realize that this was an elegant and fun way to get involved and connect with local friends and cooks.
Things are always better with food and this fundraiser was great! There was such variety, but I especially was impressed by the pride each and every volunteer chef had in sharing a part of their family history with the community. There was such a sense of delight at each table you visited.
For my own recipe, I needed something that was not too difficult or time consuming, and that would be fun. I also wanted it to be something that people would want to eat and something that was a part of who I am.
My father’s favorite meat was always ground beef …anyway you could make it. However, spaghetti and meatballs were the top of the list. When my children were small my mom and dad would spend as much time as possible being with them, so we developed a Saturday night tradition of having that dinner. It was easy for all and everyone enjoyed it. I used my moms recipe and tweaked it as necessary with ingredients I had and what was on sale.
It became my “signature dish” for the TBTB. Nothing was ever written down and it doesn’t always come out the same. However, that is part of its charm!
This one’s for you Dad!
In a dutch oven:
2-tablespoons olive oil
1-large onion chopped & 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (I use a processor) simmer for about 5 minutes
Add: 2 cans of tomato paste and 2 equal cans of water
1- large can chunky crushed tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
water enough to fill each can about 2/3
After all above ingredients are blended and the sauce starts to boil put on very low
add 1-tablespoon oregno italian seasoning
2 tablespoons parsley
1 or 2 bay leaves.
2 large or 3 medium carrots cleaned, washed and completely processed till almost smooth.
Put a lid on the pot and stir every half hour for about 2 hours.
1 pound ground meat (your choice)
3/4 pound ground pork
1 cup chopped onion and 2 cloves chopped garlic.
2 cups bread crumbs. I make my own from stale bakery bread. When it gets really hard I put it in the processor before I put any wet ingredients in; you can add some Parmesan and Italian seasonings or use 1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs and some store bought Italian bread crumbs. I don’t add salt because bread is usually salty and add pepper to taste. Mix by hand and make into meatballs. I put them on a sheet pan (jelly roll size) with sides and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
I also cooked 6 hot sausages and added to the sauce for flavor for the TBTB.
Add all to sauce and cook. They should be ready in about an hour, but I like to cook them a longer time. Sometimes two or three hours, very low and to seal the flavors in.
It is ready to eat.
I usually let the pot cool to room temperature (sometimes overnight) on the stove before refrigerating. It freezes well, so you put it in small containers and make ahead meals.
It is really much easier than it sounds. I make sauce on day I’m home and go back to other chores while the sauce simmers.
Editor’s Note: Remember, TBTB is slated again for this coming October. If you would like to volunteer as a community cook or help in any other way, please call the library and one of the co-chairs, Angela Weinberg or Amanda Sheptak, will be in touch. Everyone is welcome!